Contentment Stories

I Wish You Enough

Speaker Bob Perks was at an airport when he ‘overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her departure and standing near the security gate, they hugged and he said, “I love you. I wish you enough.” She in turn said, “Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy.”

They kissed and she left. He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say goodbye to someone knowing it would be forever?”

“Yes, I have,” I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me.

So I knew what this man experiencing.

“Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever goodbye?” I asked.

“I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, the next trip back would be for my funeral,” he said.

“When you were saying goodbye I heard you say, “I wish you enough.” May I ask what that means?”

He began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more.”When we said ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them,” he continued and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Goodbye.”

He then began to sob and walked away.

My friends, I wish you enough!’

Source: Bob Perks. Used with permission

The Stone Cutter

There was once a stone cutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.

One day he passed a wealthy merchant’s house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stone cutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merchant.

To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever imagined, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. Soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. “How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a high official!”

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around. It was a hot summer day, so the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. “How powerful the sun is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the sun!”

Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. “How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a cloud!”

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. “How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the wind!”

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it – a huge, towering rock. “How powerful that rock is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a rock!”

Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed. “What could be more powerful than I, the rock?” he thought.

He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stone cutter.

Source: unknown.

The Discontented Pig

Long, long ago a pig lived in a house at the edge of a village, and every day he worked in his garden. His was a most magnificent garden, and every year he won awards for producing the finest vegetables in the entire kingdom.

However, after many years of tending his garden in good weather and bad, the pig began to grow tired and discontented. He figured there must be an easier way to make a living. So he shut up his house and set off to find a new and easier way to make money.

Eventually he came to the home of a cat named Thomas, and from the house rang out the sweetest music. The Discontented Pig marvelled as Thomas expertly played his violin. “Surely this must be easier than tending a garden” thought the pig and he asked Thomas to teach him to play the violin.

Thomas handed the pig a violin and bow and showed him how to play. But when the pig began to play the music was terrible…more like the sounds of bleating pigs than the sweet lullabies of Thomas. “this is terrible” cried the pig. “I thought you would teach me to play!”

“And that I will” replied Thomas, “but mastering the violin takes many years of practise and hard work.”

“Then I think I’ll look for something else”, answered the pig, “because this is as hard as weeding my garden.”

And so the pig set off down the road again, until he came to a house where there lived a dog who made cheese. “This may be just what I’m looking for” thought Pig. “After all, I love to eat and I could make the most delicious cheeses both for myself and to sell.” So he asked if the dog would teach him to make cheese.

“That I will” agreed the dog, and the two set about making cheese. But turning and kneading the cheese was hot and thirsty work, and after a while the discontented pig stopped for a rest.

“You can’t stop now” cried the dog. “The cheese will spoil. There can be no resting until the job is finished.”

“This is just as hard as growing vegetables” answered the pig. “I need to find something easier.”

And so he set off down the road once more, until he came across a man taking honey out of beehives. “Ah, honey gathering” thought the pig, “this is just what I’ve been looking for. I can fill my belly with delicious honey and certainly it does not look hard to gather.” So the pig asked the man to teach him how to gather honey.

The man readily agreed. He gave the pig a pair of gloves and a veil to cover his face and showed him how to lift honey out of a hive. But when the pig tried for himself some bees got into his gloves and under his veil and stung him. “How do I do this without getting stung?!” cried the pig.

“Why you can’t” said the man. “You cannot be a beekeeper without sometimes being stung.”

“Well then this is just too hard” said the pig as he waved the man goodbye.

As the little pig continued down the road he came to the realisation that every kind of work has something unpleasant about it. So he turned around and went back to his home and his vegetable garden. He hoed and raked and weeded and sang as he worked. And there was no more contented pig in all that kingdom.

The Clock Thief. A Parable About Contentment

Once upon a time there was a rotund little man with dark brooding eyes who was obsessed with collecting clocks. The world is filled with an almost limitless number of clocks – grandfather clocks, grandmother clocks, cuckoo clocks, alarm clocks, digital clocks, analogue clocks, big clocks, little clocks, medium size clocks. And our rotund little clock collector with the brooding eyes was obsessed with collecting as many as possible. By day he thought about clocks, by night he dreamed about clocks. He visited antique dealers to buy old clocks, perused the shelves of department stores to buy the latest clocks, scoured garage sales to find unwanted clocks.

Soon he had so many clocks he had to build a warehouse to hold them.  And each time he found a clock the process was the same. He’d hold the clock, feel the contours, listen for its tick, and then take it to his clock warehouse. When he arrived he’d undo the super heavy duty padlock on the barbed wire fence. Then he’d drive to the front door, look to make sure there was no one else around, and only when he was sure no one was able to peer on his magnificent collection, he’d quickly unlock the security locks, rush into his warehouse, shut the door behind him, and carefully place his latest acquisition in its allocated place.

He was however haunted by each visit to his clock warehouse. It was as though each time he opened and shut those doors someone was whispering in his ear: “Hans of Sweden has more clocks than you…Jillian of London has rarer clocks than you… If only you could get another clock, then you’d be happy.” On occasions the whispering was sinister:  “Is your warehouse secure enough? People might steal your clocks…” At times the whispering was indignant “Why should low income earners get a clock concession. Why don’t you get a clock concession too?”

Whenever the whispering started the rotund little clock collector with the brooding eyes was sure he could see someone out of the corner of his eye. But the moment he turned there was nothing.

One day the rotund little clock collector came to his warehouse with his latest prize. He was pleasantly surprised not to hear the whispering inside his head. But his pleasant demeanour ended the moment he opened the warehouse door. There was someone else in the warehouse, right in front of him, a tall, wiry fellow with impish eyes. In his hands the tall, wiry fellow with impish eyes held the most exquisite antique cuckoo clock. It was not one the rotund little clock collector with the brooding eyes had ever seen before. “Who are you?” demanded the clock collector.

“Why I’m a thief” said the tall, wiry fellow with impish eyes. With that he carried the exquisite antique clock to a shelf, placed it gently down and gave it a quick dusting. “Oh, don’t worry, it’s not stolen. It’s mine, and it’s my gift to you.”

As the tall, wiry fellow with impish eyes spoke his voice sounded familiar to the rotund little clock collector with the brooding eyes. Yes, that was it, this was the voice of the whisperer; this was the voice that whispered in his ear each time he unlocked his warehouse.

“A thief! A thief!” cried the rotund clock collector. “But a thief would be removing clocks from my collection, not adding to them! What sort of thief are you?!”

“Oh, I haven’t come to steal your clocks” replied the tall, wiry fellow with the impish eyes. “ You know my voice, don’t you? You’ve heard me many times before…” At this the tall, wiry fellow with the impish eyes leaned in close and whispered “Hans has more clocks, Jillian has rarer clocks, if only you could get another clock, is your warehouse secure? Why do lower income earners get a clock concession?” He continued “I’ve been here every time you’ve visited your warehouse. I haven’t come to steal your clocks my friend. I’ve come to steal your contentment.”

Who or what is the contentment thief for us today?

Source: Scott Higgins

I Love My Garbage Man

I had been working much too long on this job. I guess things could have been worse. I certainly wasn’t doing hard labor. But going door to door asking questions as a representative of the federal government wasn’t the most satisfying position either.

It was August. It was hot. I had to wear a tie.

“Hello. My name is Bob Perks and we are doing a survey in this neighborhood…”

“I’m not interested! Good bye!”…slam, lock.

You can’t imagine how many times I heard that. I finally caught on and began with “Before you slam the door, I am not selling anything and I just need to ask a few questions about yourself and the community.”

The young woman inside the doorway, paused for a moment, raised her eyebrows as she shrugged her shoulders confused by my rude introduction.

“Sure. Come on in. Don’t mind the mess. It’s tough keeping up with my kids.”

It was an older home in a section of the valley where people with meager income found affordable shelter. With the little they had, the home looked comfortable and welcoming.

“I just need to ask a few questions about yourself and family. Although this may sound personal I won’t need to use your names. This information will be used…”

She interrupted me. “Would you like a glass of cold water? You look like you’ve had a rough day.”

“Why yes!” I said eagerly.

Just as she returned with the water, a man came walking in the front door. It was her husband.

“Joe, this man is here to do a survey.” I stood and politely introduced myself.

Joe was tall and lean. His face was rough and aged looking although I figured he was in his early twenties. His hands were like leather. The kind of hands you get from working hard, not pushing pencils.

She leaned toward him and kissed him gently on the cheek. As they looked at each other you could see the love that held them together. She smiled and titled her head, laying it on his shoulder. He touched her face with his hands and softly said “I love you!”

They may not have had material wealth, but these two were richer than most people I know. They had a powerful love. The kind of love that keeps your head up when things are looking down.

“Joe works for the borough.” she said.

“What do you do?” I asked.

She jumped right in not letting him answer.

“Joe collects garbage. You know I’m so proud of him.”

“Honey, I’m sure the man doesn’t want to hear this.” said Joe.

“No, really I do.” I said.

“You see Bob, Joe is the best garbage man in the borough. He can stack more garbage on the truck than anyone else. He gets so much in one truck that they don’t have to make as many runs.”, she said with such passion.

“In the long run,” Joe continues, “I save the borough money. Man hours are down and the cost per truck is less.”

There was silence. I didn’t know what to say. I shook my head searching for the right words.

“That’s incredible! Most people would gripe about a job like that. It certainly is a difficult one. But your attitude about it is amazing.” I said.

She walked over to the shelf next to the couch. As she turned she held in her hand a small framed paper.

“When we had our third child Joe lost his job. We were on unemployment for a time and then eventually welfare. He couldn’t find work any where. Then one day he was sent on an interview here in this community. They offered him the job he now holds. He came home depressed and ashamed. Telling me this was the best he could do. It actually paid less than we got on welfare.”

She paused for a moment and walked toward Joe.

“I have always been proud of him and always will be. You see I don’t think the job makes the man. I believe the man makes the job!”

“We needed to live in the borough in order to work here. So we rented this home.” Joe said.

“When we moved in, this quote was hanging on the wall just inside the front door. It has made all the difference to us, Bob. I knew that Joe was doing the right thing.” she said as she handed me the frame.

It said: If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep the streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Martin Luther King

“I love him for who he is. But what he does he does the best. I love my garbage man!”

Source: Bob Perks Copyright 2001. Used with permission