There once was a man in a town among towns. Was a lot his property and estates, his titles and reputation, he had inns and taverns and Turkish baths, he had children and grandchildren. He was also healthy and even happy.
There was another man far among faraways. Didn't have this or that, diamonds or other. But he was healthy and happy too.
The man who had everything got curious about the man who had nothing. People around kept talking about him. How could a man with nothing be happy? Our man was intrigued. Curiosity... It's not easy to hush once it takes over, makes a man hit the roads. As such, our man left his comfortable and warm house, to visit this man who had nothing.
When he arrived, he found the man he was looking for sitting in a naked room with a few worn out clothes and furniture. After an exchange of greetings he asked timidly: “May I ask your permission to ask you a question?”
Well, this was a question in itself but our man didn't seem to be aware. The estimable reverence didn't seem to mind, he nodded solemnly.
Upon which, our man asked “Where are your possessions?”
It's not good etiquette to answer a question with a question but the reverence reflected a mirror and asked:
“Where are yours?”
Surprised was our “man with so much”... Wasn't it obvious? Still, he answered the question not to compromise his manners.
“I'm a passer-by, I've come and I'll be going.”
The one with nothing answered as if he was waiting for this reply:
“I am a passer-by too in this world, I've come and I'm going.”
The Persian story of the ring with “This too shall pass” is famous.
When I was travelling the world as a solo woman, people always asked me if I was not afraid. My take on it was always “If no permanent damage is done, all is fine; it's just adventure.” I knew, from experience, that things that seemed troublesome at the time turned into fun stories later on. Whatever hardships you faced, you took a shower, had food, slept through the night, you were like brand new.
However, the key point here is... As long as no permanent damage being done. Unfortunately, in some cases, permanent damage can be caused. In such situations, it is not so easy to say “This too shall pass.” On the other hand, we humans are habitual creatures and we get used to everything.
The caption underneath this photo reads:
“How many days does poverty last father?”
“40 days my son.”
“Would we be rich after 40 days?”
“No son. We'd get used to it...”
Even with worse situations... Yes, there are worse situations. I have read stories of paraplegics. After a disabling accident or unexpected sudden illness, people are devastated. However, after some time passes, they get used to the new situation, psychological tests show that the overall happiness turns back to previous levels and stays the same. We are resilient.
That is, mostly... There always are those of us who cannot bear their situation and decide the only way out of the darkness is ending their life.
I used to see those people as weak links in the chain. I was brought up with the belief that taking one's life was a big sin, that you'd be burning in hell forever if you did. In fact, that fear held me from committing suicide during my adolescence years when my parents were going through an ugly divorce with constant fights involving physical violence. I don't know if I would have acted on it had I not been installed with the fear of hell, but it certainly was a deterrent from even contemplating the thought for long.
Anyway... Now, as someone with half a century behind her back, so many experiences and so much reading, writing and questioning, I am an agnostic and I do not judge those who commit suicide. Who knows that we don't get another chance at life after we die? Perhaps they are in a better place. Or perhaps, they are still struggling with their demons. Who can say? What I know is that this is what life on this world is, this is what humanity is. We all have our existential problems and no one is immune from this, not even the richest or the most famous. You may or may not like Jim Carrey, but I find his quote very illuminating:
To me, the other part of the story is more important. That is, thinking that moments of glory shall pass too. As someone who has been on the front cover of a national newspaper, I have sort of an idea what that means. I know people who are trying to reach every country, aiming for Guinness World Records. I follow some of them and see how they are after the spotlights and the interest that comes with it. However, in the end, they all fade away into the distance. A new person, a younger traveller, or someone after a more daring adventure takes their place under the flashlights. It all is transitory. Yes, sure, some last a bit longer, but in the end, all fade.
So “This too shall pass” is a good reminder to let go of your pride at such times.
However, there is a flip side of the coin here too. Because, if you see everything as passing by, you feel no need to do anything. So it is more about finding the balance and doing things with the knowledge and apprehension of our, our lives' and possessions' transitory nature.