There once was a man who felt sorry for insulting his friend. Not knowing how to assuage his guilt, he decided to speak with the local rabbi.
After listening carefully to the man’s story the rabbi told him he would help. But only if the man did exactly what the rabbi told him to do without question. The man readily agreed.
So the rabbi told the man to go to a housewares store and buy a feather pillow. The man started to ask why but the rabbi quickly reminded him not to ask questions. Off the man went to buy the pillow. Not knowing what the pillow was for, the man bought the most expensive one he could find.
Hurriedly he returned to the rabbi and showed him the pillow. He pointed out the high thread count, the durability of the ticking, and the density of the goose down and feathers that made up the stuffing. He even invited the rabbi to rest his head on the pillow to test out it softness and comfort.
Convinced, the rabbi agreed with his assessment of the supreme quality of the pillow. So he could barely contain his surprise and anger when the rabbi told him to go to the bluffs above the ocean and tear open the pillow. Protesting the crime of destroying such a fine piece of workmanship, the rabbi again reminded him not to ask questions.
Resigned, the man did as he was told. He struggled to tear the ticking, having to use a knife to make a hole. Finally he was able to get a hand on each side of the slit and just as he pulled with all his strength a huge gust of wind blew all of the feathers over the cliff, dispersing them across a vast area. Satisfied he had done as bidden, he went back to see the rabbi.
“All right,” the man said confronting the rabbi, “I have done as you asked. My beautiful pillow is just a piece of torn fabric now. All its feathers have been blown to the four corners of the globe. And I don’t feel the least bit better about having insulted my friend.” Calmly, the rabbi replied, “you will, as soon as you collect up every feather.”
No matter how young he is, you cannot control another person. Though you can develop proficiency in altering your thoughts, your brain is too complex and outside stimulus too unpredictable to gain complete mastery over every thought that comes to mind.
Recovery from an ill-considered word or deed can be virtually unattainable, especially in these days of ubiquitous video and social media. Next time you are tempted to lash out, do you really think the person will benefit? Or will you have given up yet another piece of your mind to no purpose?
When did exercising restraint worsen a situation?
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