The Business of Aesop 


21.  Two Travelers and the Purse

"No man is an island," sayeth the great John Dunne.

We travel on this path of life, sometimes climbing up mountains, and sometimes falling into ditches. Success or failure in our endeavors is often measured not by the act itself, but by a scope of reference. Same singular act today, simply a different context for its review tomorrow.

We've all seen the movies: someone climbs up a mountain successfully, but then cannot get down; or, someone falls into a ditch only to be saved from a passing train. We've got to be very careful about judging the moment.

If Abraham Lincoln had won the 1858 U.S. Senate race, he may not have become the U.S. President. In some despondency, after losing the Senate race, Lincoln wrote, "I am glad I made the late race. It gave me a hearing on the great and durable questions of the age, which I could have had in no other way; and though I now sink out of view, and shall be forgotten, I believe I have made some marks which will tell for the cause of civil liberty long after I am gone."

Yes, Abe, you were ridiculed, scorned and lost the vote...on that day.

The truth is that we simply cannot tell, at any given moment, whether this moment is a success or a failure. Getting money, and being a success, are simply different measures in different contexts.

Gain a coin, lose a spouse. Gain a title, lose a child. Gain the World, lose a Life.

As every judge of excellence knows, after some experience in judging rightly, everything is context. And, context is a matter of scope of view. View a moment, view a day, view a life. The perspective changes the view.

Therefore, it is wise to contemplate that this success—on this day—will be succeeded. This success—such as we think it is, on this day—will be succeeded by something: another day, another event, a new context of review.

Aesop taught as much, 2,000 years ago.

In the context of life, and the meaning of things that we think are important—or what we think at the moment are successes—real life success is in the relationships that we develop. The relationships—a type of love—to which we bind together in life. The relationships with people who we help, and who help us, to get down from the mountain, or to get out of the ditch.

The Two Travelers and the Purse

Two Men traveled together when one of them found a wallet of money.

"How lucky I am!" he said. But the other Man said, "You should say, 'how lucky we are!'"

"No," replied the first. "I found it and it is mine."

Just then, they heard, "Stop, thief!" yelled by a mob of people armed with clubs and pitchforks.

The Man who found the purse panicked. "We are doomed," he cried.

"No," replied the other Man, "You should say, 'I am doomed.'"

Moral of the Story: If we claim to be alone with our fortune, then we should be alone with our misfortune. 

                                                                    Gregg R. Zegarelli, Esq.




The Business of Aesopis a series of short articles and newsletters by Gregg Zegarelli, Esq. applying the principles of Aesop to a business context.  Copyright © Gregg Zegarelli 2015.  All rights reserved. The fable summaries are excerpts from The Essential Aesop: For Business, Managers, Writers and Professional Speakers, Print 978-0-9899299-1-2, eBook 978-0-9899299-3-6, by Arnold Zegarelli and Gregg Zegarelli, Esq., Copyright © 2013.  All rights reserved.