Saturday, February 8, 2014

Bound By Choice

Men are anxious to improve their circumstance but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.
As a Man Thinketh
By: James Allen

What does it mean to remain bound? It is a very symbolic concept that I do not believe too many of us have experienced. Imagine a person, a soldier, whose army just lost the final battle in a war. Now, the enemy is searching the battlefield for any survivors to take the prison. As he runs into what he thinks is freedom he lands straight into an enemy scouting party and they yell at him to stop. "Stand where you are or we will kill you!" The man has a choice to make - either run away and die, or be captured and live a life of pain. Unable to make the choice, he is paralyzed with the weight of having to make a decision. The enemy seizes him and ties his arms and legs together. Upon returning to the capital city for what he believes is his torture and execution, he is placed in a cell with an older man. There was something about this man... He was sweating profusely, mumbling to himself, rubbing his hands together and every 20 minutes he would yell, "did they come yet?!?!" They stopped answering. 

"How long have you been here?" the soldier said. 

"Twenty-eight days. They say on the thirtieth day they bring you outside. Once outside you can enjoy the sun for 5 minutes, eat your last meal and meet the priest, for after that you will die." 

"Are you ready?" 

"Am I ready?!?! Are you kidding me?!?!" And the man remained silent, staring at the wall where he marked the days off. 

The soldier woke up the next morning and thought, "all I have 29 days left" and he began revisiting every regret he ever had. 

On the day the old man was taken away to his death, he said to the soldier, "Can I give you a piece of advice? You and I are bound to this time and place and we cannot leave this very room ... in one sense. If you are like me, you probably spent yesterday thinking of all the women you should have asked out, and all of the missed opportunities you had. My advice is: do not spend the next twenty-eight days differently! Exercise, practice singing scales, compose a poem, meditate on a passage of the Sacred Scriptures that you remember. Whatever you do, don't waste your last twenty-eight days! My dying wish is that you do not waste the last days of your life! Promise me!" 

"I promise!" Said the soldier as he saw the man taken away one last time. He sat there looking at the courtyard of the prison and saw a very different man than when he arrived. It was a man who was ready to face his death because he was able to impart something significant to someone. 

The next day the soldier arose early, before the sunrise and began to do push ups. When he could not do anymore he would meditate on scripture passages he heard throughout his life. Then he would practice scales in his cell. He secretly wanted to be a singer and always wished he had time to practice. Now he had all he time in the world and could follow a secret passion of his. Twenty-eight days later he was in better shape than when he entered his cell, he felt closer to God and was able to sing beautiful songs. The guards would stop by just to listen to him singing. 

As the guards came to take him to the gallows, they began to weep. They saw a man who focused not on his regrets, but on his opportunity. When the soldier was brought to the gallows, they saw a man at peace. A man who because he truly believed he was free, was free, no matter how thick the chains that bound him were.

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