Overcoming Hardships


Henrylito D. Tacio

Mr. Tacio, who hails from Davao, is a correspondent of the Asian edition of Reader’s Digest. He is the first and only Filipino journalist to have been elevated to the Hall of Fame in science reporting by the Philippine Press Institute. In 1999, the Rotary Club of Manila bestowed him the Journalist of the Year award. He is also East Asia’s contributing editor of the People & the Planet based in London.

For comments, henrytacio@gmail.com

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”—Anne Bradstreet in The Works of Anne Bradstreet

Kurt Bucher, author of the anecdote I am sharing here, called him Ben Sadok. He was a man who hated people and loved nothing more than to cause others pain. He was a sadist, so to speak.

The story supposed to happen in the Middle East. One day, Ben was walking through an oasis in the desert and spotted a young coconut shoot coming out of the earth. It looked so promising. But the devilish man has something in mind. He got a big stone and placed it right on top of the growing crown of the tree.

“That will give it a few headaches,” he sneered as he dusted off his hands and walked away.

The young coconut shoot tried in every way to get rid of that crippling stone. It shook itself; it bent in every direction; but that stone would not budge. So the only thing the young palm could do was sink its roots deeper and deeper into the ground so that it could carry this extra load.

As a result, its roots got all the way down to the water table that nourished the entire oasis. Well, with that endless supply of water, the coconut shot up quickly and in no times its plentiful leaves covered over the offending stone.

In time, it became the tallest palm around and produced the most nuts.

Years later, the devilish Ben came back to enjoy how much he had crippled the palm tree with that stone. He looked around in vain for a stunted tree. Then the tallest coconut palm down its head, showed Ben the big stone still embedded in its crown, and told him, “I want to thank you for that stone. Its weight forced me to grow taller than all the other palms.”

The anecdote above reminds me of the statement of Nancy E. Turner. In Sarah’s Quilt, she wrote: “Living is getting knocked down time and again, then standing up time and again, and once more. It’s easy to act honorable when things are coming along and all your pastures are green. Plenty difficult when the ground is dried and burned and people have connived to take even that from you. I’ll sell this place, or I’ll lose it. I’ll go on. People who don’t have hard times aren’t living.”

It reminds me of another story shared by Leonard Greenway. There was this legend about a German nobleman who had a castle in the hills along the Rhine. Being a music lover, he stretched some wires between the towers in his castle with the hope that the winds might vibrate them and make music. But the gentle Rhineland breezes produced no sounds.

Then one night, a great thunderstorm swept up the valley. Furious winds beat against the castle. Even the mountains roundabout seemed to shake. The baron opened a sheltered window to watch the progress of the storm and, to his astonishment; he heard the strains of beautiful music.

Now, those wires were humming like guitar strings. It had required a windstorm to bring out the music!

“If you always find yourself numbering your troubles, you will never find time counting your blessings,” Israelmore Ayivor wrote in Daily Drive 365. “There is no use becoming frustrated in your difficulties while you have all opportunities hiding in them for a turnover!”

To end this column, allow me share another anecdote, this time penned by Willi Hoffsuemmer.

A Chinese lady who had lost her only son went to the man of religion in her village and asked, “Is there anything you can give me to reduce the pain that I feel?”

“Yes,” the religious man replied. “There is a wonderful thing you can do. I want you to go and get me a mustard seed from a home that has no problems. Such a mustard seed can ward off all problems. When you find it, you bring it to me and I will use it to relieve your pain.”

So the lady started out and came to a big mansion. Nothing could possibly be wrong here! She knocked on the door, told what she was looking for, and she got this answer: “You’ve come to the wrong house.” And then, the man of the house told her all their problems.

As she was listening to their problems, she thought, “I know something about problems. Maybe I can help these people with theirs.” So she listened to them; and this helped people.

She kept on searching for her magic mustard seed. But no matter where she went, she could not find that seed. Everyone, everywhere, had some kind of troubles.

But she really did find the magic mustard seed, because in trying to help others solve their problems, she forgot all about her own.

Richelle E. Goodrich, in Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year, wrote: “This thing that troubles you is only one small part of your life. Don’t allow it to be allconsuming when there’s so much more to embrace.”

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