Monday, August 18, 2014

The Three Most Important Questions

Almost always during breakfast and lunchtime, I read to my children.

They each grab a book from the library bag or one off their bedroom shelves and gnosh while I tell the story.

One of my favorite author/illustrators is Jon J. Muth and one of his most profound pieces of children's literature landed in my hands today while the kids devoured pasta and plums.

The tale is called, "The Three Questions," and is based on a book with the same title by Leo Tolstoy...the famous Russian novelist who wrote "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina."

Muth's version is about a young boy named Nikolai who is on a quest to find the answers to the following:
  • When is the best time to do things?
  • Who is the most important one?
  • What is the right thing to do?
Along the way, he meets a heron, a monkey, a dog, a tortoise and a panda who help to teach him that ultimately, there is only one important time and that is now......the most important one is always the one that you are with....and the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side.  For in the end, this is the reason why we are here.

The beautiful part of the story which my children know all too well and through their actions teach that Tolstoy's lesson is that of the obvious.  Something happens when we grow older and suddenly, our experience has a tendency to turn into baggage and we make the simple complicated. 

We're all on a path.  The people that we engage along the way are purposeful.  The circumstances we encounter are the right ones at the right time, even if they are painful.  The most important players in our story vary as does the timing.  The greatest challenge is being open to doing the right thing in that moment knowing that it may change tomorrow.

For now, I was comforted by the fact that my children seem to get it, even if I'm a bit thick headed.  They understand that it's not that hard and that you don't have to decide about tomorrow today.  You just have to be here in this moment, now, and the rest will unfold exactly as it's supposed to.

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