Sunday, October 18, 2009

Playing is its own reward

A wise friend told me this story last week. It really helped me put a few things in perspective.

Once there was a clever old man who lived in a suburban neighborhood. One day, this old man was in his sumptuous study, trying to take a nap, when the sounds of children playing on his front lawn woke him. This had been a recurring problem, and the old man decided to put a stop to it. Now, an ordinary ornery old man would have run out waving his cane and chased the kids off his property, but this ornery old man was clever. He stepped out his door, identified the ringleader, and said to him, "Oh, you children. The sound of your playing brings me such joy. If I pay you each a dollar, will you come back and play on my lawn tomorrow, just as loudly as you are today?" The boy agreed, and the children all came and played on his lawn the next day. Every day that week the children came and played on the old man's lawn, and every day he paid them each a dollar. However, when the next week came, he only gave each child 50 cents. The children came and played, but their fun became less boisterous. Over the next week the old man gradually paid them less and less, until one day, the children complained. "We're playing as hard as we can," said the ringleader, "and all you can give us is 5 cents a day?"
"I'm sorry," said the old man, "I'm only a poor old man. That is all I can afford."
"Well, then this isn't worth our time," said the boy, as he led his gang of children away from the house."
And the old man never had a nap interrupted again.

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