Teachable moments can sneak up on us unexpectedly. We were sitting in a restaurant waiting for our food when, out of the blue, my grandson Zachary leaned against me in the booth, and said, “Saba, will you tell me a story?” I was tired, and all I wanted to do was eat and relax, but my grandson had just made me an offer I could not refuse:
Once upon a time, I began, there was a king. He was not a nice king, and he had taken almost all of the people’s money in taxes. They marched and protested but to no avail. “That’s not MY problem,” the king responded. “That’s YOUR problem! I need money to run my kingdom, and if you don’t have enough, that’s just too bad!”
The people in the kingdom met everyday, but no one had a solution. Then, an elderly man spoke up: “I would like to see the king!” he said.
“You?” People responded. “What do you think YOU can do when nothing that we have tried has worked?”
“Can’t hurt,” the man responded and off he headed toward the palace. When the King saw him, he said, “If you have come about the money, you are wasting your time. That’s not MY problem! That’s YOUR problem…”
“Oh no, your majesty,” the man answered. “I haven’t come about the money. I came because it is such a nice day, and I want to invite your Highness for a ride in my boat.” The invitation took the king completely by surprise. “It is a nice day,” he allowed … “OK, I’ll go.”
The man rowed his small boat to the center of the lake. Then to the king’s shock, the man took out a hammer and an awl and began to drill a hole in the bottom of the boat! ”Stop!” shouted the king. “I am going to drown!” ”Oh,” the man said casually, “That’s not MY problem. That’s YOUR problem. You see, I’m just drilling the hole under my own seat!”
“I understand what you are teaching me,” the king said softly.
“Everything we do,” Zachary chimed in, “affects others,” and a proud Saba was glad his young grandson grasped one of life’s most important lessons.