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King Solomon's ring

I love to re-read the Yiddish folk tale of King Solomon's ring (not to be confused with the Seal of Solomon). If you aren't familiar with it, I suggest you learn it because it's a wonderful story. In the fashion of all good fables, or parables, it has a moral, and you probably have heard that:

This, too, shall pass.

Wise words to contemplate, indeed.

In the story, Solomon sends his guard on a seemingly impossible quest to find a magic ring that has this amazing power: If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy. Of course, he fails to find this extraordinary treasure until his time is nearly up. The guard tells his tale to a humble junk dealer who engraves those timeless words on an old ring and gives it to the guard who then turns it over to his king.

It's easy to see how these words might give comfort to those who are struggling with something -- health challenges, money woes, relationships gone awry. Just hang in there and things will get better, right?. But what about the "happy man" who realizes that privileges and comforts and pleasures also don't last forever? The words apply equally to him. How is that good? If everything will pass, then why bother with anything? Why fight the good fight? Why enjoy life? Why work hard? Why care?

The answer, of course, is that life is not about status or things; rather it is about meaning. You get to create the life you want, with every thought, deed, interaction or intention. You get to live each and every moment with a heart full of conviction, compassion and love for yourself, for your beloved others and your fellow man. Whether life is easy or hard, good or bad, going your way or going against you, you always have a choice in how you live it. And the wisdom of a live lived with love and compassion is in how it smooths out the ride and brings meaning to all you do.

This week, take encouragement from this: You always get to choose your thoughts and actions. There will always be times when things are good: be humble, grateful and vigilant. There will always be time when things are not so good: assess, adapt, work your plan and be patient.

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