To Thrive In An Unfair World, Don’t Be A Miser: The Treasure and The Two Men
Conversation got a little heavy at the breakfast table the other day. I was telling my partner about a book I was reading by Phillippe Lançon, one of the survivors of the terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices on January 7, 2015. Next thing we knew we were revisiting the November 13, 2015 attack at the Bataclan concert venue, which we experienced from a restaurant only a few hundred meters away (and which I wrote about here: A Paris Weekend In November). Then it was Kikkan Randall’s cancer, discovered only months after she won a gold medal for cross country skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Life’s randomness can terrify me over my oatmeal. Fortune toys with us.
A man who was without credit or resources, the devil in his wallet — that is to say, with nothing in his wallet — thought he would do well to hang himself and put an end to his misery. After all, if he didn’t, then hunger would get him soon enough. And that’s a death of limited appeal to people who have little desire to taste death in advance.
With this intention, he chose an old shack to set the scene of his adventure. He brought a rope and went about hammering a nail high up on the wall where he wanted to attach the noose. The wall, old and dilapidated, fell down at the first hammer blow, exposing a treasure.
Our man-in-despair gathered up the treasure and took off with it, leaving the noose and returning with gold. He didn’t bother to count — a round number or not, the sum pleased our gentlemen.
As our gallant loped away, the owner of the treasure arrived. Found his money … absent.
What? He said. I haven’t even died and I’ve lost my money? I won’t hang myself. Well, maybe I will, if only I had a rope.
The cord was ready. Only a man was missing. This new arrival attached his neck and hung himself well and good. He may have taken some consolation from the fact that someone else had covered the cost of the rope.
A miser rarely ends his days without tears. He takes the least pleasure in the treasure he locks away, hoarding it for thieves, or for his parents or for his grave.