These were words I saw in a mosque in Fatehpur Sikri: “The world is a bridge, pass over it, but build not your dwelling there!”
The great Fuller was one day taken to the Bank of England, where one of the clerks showed him some gold bars. He took one in his hand, examined it with some care, then laying it down, remarked to his friend, “How much better to have this in the hand than in the heart!”
Another famous man who had striven hard to get a knighthood lay on his death bed when the news of the distinction and honour was brought to him. Turning a cold glance at the royal paper, he said with a sigh, “Alas! This is a very fine thing in this country, but I am going to a country where it will be of no use to me.
I know a man who decided to base the secret of happiness upon the things he did from which he got the deepest sense of inner joy. He found for example that he enjoyed going out to a charming restaurant for a delicious dinner and a delightful evening with friends. But when he went out of his way to do something generous and kind and unexpected for someone in deep trouble, he felt so good inside that he could sing for joy!
I sang for joy a few years ago: Having a business background, I love a good bargain, and after my mother-in-law’s death, we gave most of what she had to others, except an unused wheelchair still in its plastic covering. “Let me sell it online!” I said to my wife and put an ad on a website.
A call came yesterday from someone in a far away suburb, who asked me for pics. I sent them. Measurements. I gave them. Then his wife came on the line, explaining it was for their invalid daughter of twenty years. She asked me for a discount as the price seemed high. I refused, and they reluctantly agreed and thanked me when I told them my driver would bring it to the station for them to take away.
But as I sat to write that day, something told me to call and tell them to take it free. I did, and the joy I’ve felt from that small act is far more than the pleasure of the bargain. Much, much more, I tell you!
Pleasure lasts for a little while, it is like a flash of lightning, there, for a moment and then gone forever. Whereas joy is like a flood that engulfs your heart and soul and etches its mark on your life!
The giving of a wheelchair made me taste that joy that day, and when you enjoy your walk over a bridge called earth, and don’t try to possess it and make your house on it, you taste joy..!
Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org