A man zoomed noisily into a narrow street in a rundown neighborhood. He was driving a brand new Porsche car, all shiny black and chrome. Its beautiful new alloy wheels glinted like silver. Its sleek contours spoke volumes about its performance on the road. Its engine purred mutely, holding all the horses under the hood tamed perfectly, ready to do the driver’s bidding at an instant’s notice.
The driver was a debonair young man. He braked the symphony on wheels with a flourish and leaped out of the car to enter the house he was visiting. The street was quiet after he left. There were, however, two pairs of curious, eager eyes that caressed the beautiful toy standing outlandishly in the dusty street. The eyes belonged to two boys sitting in their front yard a few houses away.
You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.
~Robert Louis Stevenson
The man was gone for almost an hour. Meanwhile, the boys drank in the car with envious relish. They caressed it with hungry eyes- too reticent to touch it. They couldn’t keep their eyes off the phenomenon.
Just then the man came out of the house and lingered with his friends on the door step, saying his goodbyes. The boys held an urgent conference between them and quickly came to a decision. The younger of the boys, bolder and more daring than the older one, stopped the man as he was about to get into the car.
We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.
~Winston S. Churchill
“Please mister”, he began, diffident and audacious at once, “will you give my brother and I a ride in your beautiful car?”
Amused, the man grinned kindly. “Sure”, he said. “Where is your brother?”
“I’ll just bring him”, the little boy darted off unable to believe his good luck. He reached the other boy and picked him up bodily, carrying him to the car. Surprised and quizzical, the man opened the door for them and the both piled into the front seat.
Chattering nineteen to a dozen, the boys asked questions of the man. They wanted to know everything about the car. The make of the engine, its power, its performance- everything. The man was amazed to see that the little fellows spoke of cars with an unselfconscious confidence which is born spontaneously in a passionate heart. More than willingly, the man talked about his car the way a parent would talk about his child to an appreciative audience.
When they returned from the drive, the younger boy again picked up his brother and carried him back to their yard. Then he ran back to the man for a final word.
“Why do you carry your brother?” asked the man before the boy could say a word.
“He cannot walk sir. He has polio in both his legs”, the boy replied stoically.
“I am sorry to hear that. I bet you take care of him though. You are a good boy.”
The boy smiled shyly and said, “How much does that car cost?”
“I don’t know exactly. You see this car is a gift”, the man replied, smiling.
“Who gave it to you?!”
“My brother did.”
“Oh man..! That’s so amazing! You didn’t have to pay for it at all?!”
“Not a penny”, the man said grinning.
The boy went quiet. He lowered his eyes. The man saw a little chin quivering with suppressed emotion. The boy bit his lip but couldn’t stop the tears from spilling over.
“I know what you are thinking. You wish you too had a brother who could do something like that for you instead of you having to take care of him. Am I right?”
The boy looked up, all his soul in his eyes.
“No mister. I wish I could gift my brother a beautiful thing like this. Someday when I am older, I will.”
With a firm handshake and his head lifted to the presence of a vision, the boy walked back to his brother. The man, humbled by a thought which had never occurred to him, drove slowly away. He was much richer now than he had been when he had entered the street in the morning.
A powerful seed had been planted in his heart.
I heard this story many years ago.. It brought about a shift in my perspective as effectively as if someone had picked me up bodily and turned me around. You might have come across this story before, but isn’t a thing of beauty is a joy forever? 🙂