(Please note that this is called a parable for a reason. Although it is, in a way, a personal testimony, I only used first-person because that is what sounded best. It is not true in a factual sense.)
Have you ever felt as though you are always the one pedaling a rusty bicycle while everyone else zooms by in shiny red SUVs; the one crossing the river in a rowboat while everyone else drives across the bridge; the one out picking dandelions while everyone else gets roses; the one playing an old-fashioned harmonica while everyone else gets to play an organ in a grand cathedral? I’ve spent too much of my life feeling that way. I guess I’ve always been the odd one out.
I used to feel sorry for myself. I used to wish for an SUV. I’d gaze up at the immensity of the bridge and wish I could pay the toll to cross it. I would stare longingly at the roses when someone else got some, while hiding my silly little dandelions behind my back, hoping no one would notice them. And the harmonica—well, mostly I didn’t even play it. I only listened to the majestic strains filling the cathedral, and my own music seemed like a pathetic imitation.
But let me tell you a secret. It’s different now, even though you might say that not much of anything has changed. I sort of like my old bike. I fixed it up with some paint, and it’s really not too bad. When those SUVs zoom by, all I think about now is the fact that those people are going too fast to enjoy the pleasant summer evening, the sound of the birds, and the smell of the wildflowers. When I’m paddling my rowboat, I really feel sorry for those people up on the bridge. They don’t get to listen to the gentle splash, slap, splish of the water against the boat. They don’t get to see the way the oars bring to life a thousand tiny jewels as the sunlight strikes the water droplets that fall from them. They’re too far away to see Mama Duck and her family swimming by.
It took me awhile to get over the roses. I love roses. What flower could be so beautiful or smell half as sweet? Besides, when people got roses sent to their door, it meant that someone cared about them. But then I got to thinking about the sun-dappled meadow where I pick dandelions. I could spend a happy afternoon out there with the wind and sunshine and golden flowers, while those other people were stuck in the house with their roses in a vase on the table. Their roses would wilt in a few days, and who knew when they would get more. I could go out and pick more dandelions whenever I chose. Soon I was so busy thinking about all the possibilities of my meadow with the delightful little stream running through it that I forgot all about roses and even what the roses meant.
This afternoon I’m going for a bike ride. I’m going to bike down to the river and cross it in my little boat. Then I’m going to sit among the dandelions beside the stream, pull my harmonica out of my pocket (It’s difficult to carry a cathedral organ with you, you know), and play to my heart’s content. And those silly SUVs can just keep racing off to nowhere if they like.