“Sah, sah, take heart, take heart. You will not have any hardships, even if you wish to undergo hardships. It is all up to the individual’s mind.”
Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 36, “Firm Resolution”
A song written by a poet named Michio Mado contains these lines:
Hey, elephant calf, your nose is very long, isn’t it?
That’s right! My mother’s is also very long.
Let’s say there is a young elephant who is playing with some other animals, who at one point say to him things like, “Hey, that’s a very long nose.” How do you suppose he might feel? Think this through. His head might start filling up with thoughts such as: “Come to think of it, I wonder why my nose is so long when theirs are not. It looks ugly. Now I feel embarrassed.” He might start hating his long nose and try to hide it somehow. He might avoid his friends and become socially withdrawn and isolated. He might even begin to resent his parents for giving birth to him.
The calf in the song, however, likes his nose and says, “That’s right! My mother’s is also very long.” He takes pride in having a long nose. One can picture him telling his friends, “It’s great to have this long nose.” He finds it beautiful and really loves it.
There are things in life that we simply cannot change. Yet, depending on how we perceive them, our quality of life can be transformed. Some people find a source of happiness in something that others perceive as a reason for feeling a sense of inferiority. A situation regarded by some as casting a dark shadow over their lives could be felt by others to highlight the joy of being alive.
How wonderful it will be if we can—with simplicity and ease—find joy in being who we are and take pride in living the life we lead, just as the young elephant in the song does! What a delight it will be to feel grateful to God for the way things are!