I am happy to announce, by the time you are reading this, I will have completed my third extended quarantine in China. This time 10-days in the luxurious suburbs of Beijing. Doing this now three times, I have figured out a flow to get through the days. A combination of eating meals, snacking, work, conference calls, exercising, chatting with friends, reading, and some television series binge watching. Plenty of time for reflection, and you get to know yourself really well. I appreciate ESPN as I could stream football, basketball and men’s and women’s college soccer. I absolutely love ESPN’s “30 for 30” series and thoroughly enjoyed the segments on Michael Vick and Michigan’s Fab 5.
This quarantine also fell on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in the Jewish religion. It is the Day jews all over the world ask for forgiveness for their sins and pray for better times ahead. I couldn’t help reflecting on the theme of “forgiveness” and “resilience” from all of the sports shows I watched, and how important these are to living a happy life. So that’s the focus of today’s Monday Morning Mojo, forgiveness and resilience.
To begin, my son, Samuel, shared a parable with me he heard from the services he attended in Los Angeles with Lisa and Jacquelin. The story is about a miser and has lessons related to charity and forgiveness. It goes something like this:
Forgiveness & Charity
According to the story, the richest Jew in Kraków, Poland in the 17th century was Yossele the Miser. He was known by this title because in the community he was reviled for his stinginess and refusal to contribute to charity despite his great wealth. When the Miser died, the townspeople who long despised him refused to bury his body for several days. Out of scorn, they eventually buried him in the back of the cemetery, an area normally reserved for paupers and other societal outcasts.
Within a week of the Miser’s death, strange occurrences began to unfold in the town. All the poor began beseeching the local rabbi for money because the weekly allowances they had regularly been receiving from an anonymous benefactor had ceased arriving. Eventually, the rabbi realized that Yossele was the source of these charitable donations, and in fact, the notorious miser was very charitable. He just did this without seeking recognition.
Immediately, the rabbi commanded the entire town to converge on Yossele’s grave and beg for forgiveness. And on the tombstone which read “Yossele the Miser,” the rabbi added the word —the Righteous One. According to the story, the rabbi who suggested this also requested to be buried next to the Holy Miser.
The tale underlines one of the highest forms of charity according to many philosophers — giving anonymously.
To me, this is also a cautionary lesson about being too quick to judge. Here is a photo of Yossele’s tombstone today in Poland.
During the quarantine, the importance of resilience to achieving success was top of mind. I listened to Viola Davis’ book on tape, “Finding Me”, while exercising throughout the days. Her whole story is about resilience. The Michael Vick and Fab 5 “30 for 30” series are also all about resilience. Continuing on the theme of parables, I found this story from the College of Education at University of Texas at Austin worthy of a wider share.
The Farmer and the Donkey
One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway-it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all of his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down.
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.
As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off, and take a step up.
Yes I Can
The topic of resilience reminded me of all of the great films I have seen around a favorite sporting event of mine, the Olympics. Here is one short film on resilience prepared for the Paralympics years ago in Rio De Janeiro I think is just brilliant.
Celebrating The Life of Tricia Hartner
Upon landing in Beijing for my ten-day quarantine I also learned a very good friend of mine, a fantastic wife and mother, passed away. Tricia Hartner, and her husband, John, adopted me into their life when we all first landed in Taiwan some 31 years ago. I was what is called the “Dian Deng Pao”, literally meaning a lightbulb, and more popularly known as “the third wheel” in English. Tricia was always such a positive person and fun to be around. Her obituary read, “Tricia’s sense of adventure, kindness and overall sparkle were known to many as she maintained friendships from all parts of her life. She was selfless; close to the end of her bout with cancer, she asked that the attention not be on her passing but on others.” We lost a good one in Tricia and she will certainly be missed. I feel very fortunate to have known her.
That’s it for this week’s Monday Morning Mojo. I am out an about in Beijing and happy to be out of quarantine. I hope you have a great week ahead.