Friday, March 2, 2012

The General and his Vase

Once upon a time, in old China, a great general retired after many years of military service. As he wanted to stay busy, he decided to start collecting antiques.
One evening, he sat in his study to admire his latest acquisition:  a small, very beautiful (and pricey) porcelain vase. Observing it under the sunset light, he rejoyced at the exquisite patterns the ancient craftsmen had worked into it.
Suddenly, a careless move and the vase slipped from his hands. He tried to catch it, but its slick surface was hard to grasp. As the vase was falling, the general dove down to catch it before it reached the floor. A close call, but he managed to stop the fall inches from the disaster!
The general's heart was pounding hard and fast. His breathing was frantic. Carefully holding the vase, he slowly stood up, sat at his table and relaxed.
He felt so relieved he had prevented the loss. 
Still, something was not right. He should have been elated, but only felt puzzled. 

"In all my campaigns," he thought to himself, "in all these years, charging the enemy, leading my men into battle, at times facing armies much bigger than mine… I have never felt such fear as I just now did, realizing I very well might lose this vase ..."

The General looked at the vase again, a most beautiful object indeed. Smiling, he opened his fingers. 

The vase dropped and shattered into pieces.

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