A Parable

A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. (Ecclesiastes 6:3)

A guy gets married.  He has kids.  He works his buns off to buy a house, put food on the table, clothe his family, send his kids to school, buy a couple of decent cars, take his wife out to dinner once in a while, save up for retirement, and maybe give a few bucks to the church.  Somewhere along the way he discovers that he’s not having much fun so he decides to buy a red sports car or a sail boat and starts taking weekends off to run around finding himself.  When that doesn’t work he starts moping around thinking of his inevitably approaching death and how little he’s actually accomplished in the world.  He broods while watching hours upon hours of ESPN.  What’s the point? he wonders, sipping a luke-warm beer.

Suddenly the room is illuminated by a blinding flash and before him stands an angel.  The man freaks, but the angel declares to him in a voice like a jet engine: “Why sittest thou in the mire of thine own making?  Why dwell upon the vicissitudes of chance and fortune which plague the lives of mankind?  Hearken to the whirlwind!  Put thine ear upon the surface of the roaring sea!  Shoulder the burden of continents if thou wilst find the pearl of thine field.”  Then, in another flash, the angel is gone, leaving the man with beer spilled all over his trousers.

The man contemplates the angel’s words.  Then, concluding that he has no clue what the angel meant, he returns to his moping and ESPN.  The entire episode is lost on him.  Seventeen years later he dies from injuries sustained from falling off his riding lawn mower.  His family opts for the economy burial plan and he is laid to rest beneath a metal plaque that reads simply, NICE TRY.

Shortly after his death, the man’s family wins the lottery worth 263 million dollars. The wife remarries some young hunk twenty years her junior.  His kids are delighted, squandering with abandon their winnings in a world of unlimited possibilities.  They live happily ever after.  Unlike the man, his family knows how to have a good time.  The end.

It is interesting to note that the book of Ecclesiastes is supposedly written by Solomon, the guy with 700 wives and 300 concubines.


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