There is a fairy tale about a poor, little, old woman who is very cheerful by nature. She runs errands for her neighbours and lives by what they give her in return for her services or in plain charity. During one of her carefree sojourns, she sees a pot lying in a ditch. Though she doesn’t have anything worthwhile to keep in such a pot, she decides to retrieve it from the ditch. When she gets to it, she is amazed to see gold coins overflowing from the pot.
She carries the heavy pot full of gold coins thinking that she has become awfully rich until she feels tired and incapable of going on. She puts the pot down for a while. When she picks it up again, alas, it’s no more a pot of gold coins but just a mass of silver. Her happiness does not dwindle. Silver is better, she mutters to herself, because it’s less trouble. Thieves won’t be attracted by silver as much as by gold.
But the next time she puts the mass of silver down out of fatigue, it metamorphoses into a lump of iron. She smiles to herself. Such a load of iron can create a lot of things. But soon the iron changes into a plain stone. The woman’s happiness doesn’t diminish a bit. “I needed something like this to hold my old gate in its place,” she tells herself.
When she reaches the crumbling gate of her ramshackle cottage, however, the stone takes life and becomes a monstrous creature with four lanky legs and a long tail. It walks away squealing and whinnying like a heartlessly naughty boy.
“Well,” says the old woman to herself, “I’m in luck! Fancy seeing the Bogey-Beast all to myself. It has left me with a great sense of freedom too. I feel uplifted. That’s just great.”
I have often felt like this old woman except that I was never as cheerful as she. I watched my treasure metamorphosing into many things – lower in degree each time – as I grew older and older. I cursed myself, fell into depression many times, and became an utter cynic [who still has a heart at least for kittens]. Time passed. Life kept playing its usual games with me too just as it does with most others. I wonder how many people manage to escape those beastly games of life. People have their own survival strategies. I too survived though with a lot of scars in the soul.
Those scars are in our destiny, I believe. Maybe one should learn to feel uplifted each time a scar imprints itself in our souls. Maybe we need to learn cheerfulness from that little, poor, old woman.
PS. A person whom I like much has been in depression for quite some time now. He reminded me of this little old woman. Let me take the liberty of dedicating this post to him.