There was once a farmer in Africa who inherited land from his father. On his deathbed, his father kept on muttering about the wealth in the land, and that his son should never sell up. The land had once been on the path of the Orange River but over hundreds of thousand of years it had changed course, leaving boulders and rocks littered everywhere and the river many miles away.
For 3 long years the son toiled to make ends meet with the land, but it was difficult to be optimistic. He felt it was unproductive, dry and barren – the land being covered in large rocks made tilling and ploughing awkward and difficult. He started to curse the day he was left the land. One day a smart young man came riding by and stopped to ask to water his horse. The farmer moaned about his lot, and the young man looking at the land offered him a sum of money on the spot. The amount was very tempting, and after a night’s sleep thinking about the offer, the farmer agreed to sell. He had heard that to the south, people were finding diamonds. A diamond the size of your thumb would make you very wealthy, so he had been told.
He looked all over Africa but couldn't find any. He spent years and all of his money from the sale of his farm with his obsession in trying to find diamonds and becoming wealthy. Eventually, tired, broke and disenchanted with life, one night he ended it by drowning himself in the River Vaal.
Back at the original farm, the young man had not even attempted to farm the land or plant seeds. He just walked into the middle of the nearest field with a mallet and started to break the rocks. One by one, he started to expose small looking crystals, which had a dull shine to them. He sent them to Pretoria for analysis, and sure enough they were diamonds. He was the owner of the largest diamond field in the world!
Moral of the Story:
Opportunity is always under our feet. We don't have to go anywhere. All we need to do is recognize it.
Believe it or not, there are over 20,000 different species of bees living all over the world. Bees are quite incredible little animals and it is often said that without them, the world as we know it would not exist. This is down to their huge role in plant reproduction through the process of cross-pollination – guess what…a third of all the plants we eat have been pollinated by bees! Bees are also famous for being the only insect in the world that makes food that people can eat – glorious, delicious honey! Now other than tasting great on toast, honey is quite incredible in its own right. Not only is it the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life (including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water), but it also has powerful antioxidant properties, proven to aid a multitude of different ailments.
But this short story is about the biggest bee of all, the one that most people think of when they think of bees – the Bumblebee. What can they teach us? Here is a short story about a bee named Belinda…
Belinda the bumblebee was busying herself buzzing around a field looking for brightly coloured flowers. She moved around slowly, noisily and little clumsily, because that is what bumblebee’s do.
“Woohoo!” exclaimed Belinda.
There, right before her eyes, was a big patch of bright-yellow sunflowers – a veritable heaven for a bumblebee. Slowly, and a little awkwardly, Belinda started her erratic descent to land on one of the sunflowers.
Once she had negotiated the landing, Belinda started to collect pollen and nectar from the succulent sunflower, when all of a sudden a flash of blue whizzed past her face. Even with thousands of filters in her eyes and nigh on 360 degree vision, Belinda could not make out what this was, so returned to the task in hand, until…Flash! There it was again. What on earth could it be?
“Hello big, fat, hairy thing” said a voice behind her, “what are you and what are you doing?”
Belinda turned around slowly and was greeted by a most beautiful, slender, blue-bodied insect with four graceful transparent wings and large enchanting eyes. She didn’t know of course, but she was looking at a dragonfly, one of the fastest insects in the world.
“Well,” she replied, “I am Belinda the Bumblebee and I am collecting pollen and nectar to help feed my colony”.
“Where is this colony?” asked the dragonfly looking all around.
“Oh,” said Belinda, “it’s quite a long flight from here”.
“Flight! You cannot possibly fly,” smirked the dragonfly, “you only have 4 small wings and a huge fat hairy body. Don’t make me laugh, you cannot fly!”
“Oh really?” said Belinda, “so what do you call this then…”
And with that, Belinda took off from her sunflower, hovered a short while over the incredulous dragonfly and then proceeded to perform a one-bee air show. She cartwheeled, dived, climbed, looped the loop, barrel rolled and then came rather noisily back to land on the sunflower to face the dragonfly.
Minutes later the dragonfly, still perplexed by what it had seen, asked “But how? It shouldn’t be possible. “
Belinda grinned, “I might not look like I can fly and, sure, some people might say I shouldn’t be able to, but why should that dictate what I can and cannot do?”
And with that she gathered her last drops of nectar and took to the skies buzzing with pride on her journey back to the colony.
Morale of the Story:
There are two main messages we can take from this short story:
1. Do not entertain the person that says you cannot do something. Naysayers are the way they are because of the limitations they have placed on their own lives. Each and every one of us is filled to the brim with amazing abilities and skills just waiting to be given the chance to shine. So believe and achieve…what are you waiting for!
Cool Fact: The laws of aerodynamics prove that the bumblebee should be incapable of flight even though they beat their wings at an incredible 200 beats per second. Just goes to prove, even our so-called ‘laws’ are sometimes wrong, particularly when they are applied to nature!
2. Never judge a book by its cover. Formulating pre-conceived ideas about people based on their appearances is a recipe for disaster. Get to know someone, give them a chance and believe in them – you might just be surprised what you get in return!
Two brothers set off from a hut high up in the French Alps to start the legendary Haute Route (High Route) from Chamonix to Zermatt in Switzerland. It had been an unpredictable winter season in the Alps with unsettled weather and many disappointed skiers facing unsatisfactory conditions. This journey however, was a classic ski mountaineering trek well away from the traditional ski runs and resorts.
When they set off the weather forecast yet again was not promising, but as they only had 20 kilometres to the next hut, they felt confident that they could make good time to the next night stop. Climbing to the top of the first col had been relatively easy under a star-studded sky and, reaching the top, they were greeted with a beautiful dawn. Stretched out before them lay a wondrous vista of snowy-topped mountains. Looking back however, they could see the ominous approaching clouds of an impending storm. They needed to move with best speed. Descending quickly onto the glacier with snowflakes beginning to flutter in the air all around them, the first problem arose. A crampon, vital for grip on the ice, on one of the brother’s boots broke. This in itself would slow them down – time that they didn’t have as the snowflakes turned into what is called a ‘whiteout’ – a maelstrom of driving snow making visibility nigh on impossible. Recognizing that it was dangerous to move on a glacier with impaired vision and slow movement, the brothers decided to construct a snow hole to get out of the worsening conditions.
After making themselves a hole in the snow they sat inside and waited for the storm to blow itself out. 24 hours later and with no signs of better weather and no food left, they decided that they had to make a move otherwise they would either freeze to death or get caught in one of the many avalanches that were now roaring off the mountain above and around them. They trusted each other that this was the only thing to do. To stay would make them prey to the next avalanche; they had to move, but where? To continue across the glacier in the hope of making the safety of the hut was fraught with dangers. Their only chance was to climb out of the glacier. This too was a risk as without an accurate idea on exactly where they were, they could end climbing a dangerous slope. Still, they trusted each other. The brother with both good ice crampons started the climb with no pack, just a rope and two ice axes. The other brother stood at the base of the slope belaying the line. Very soon they lost sight of each other. The climber felt that the angle of the slope was so steep that at least no avalanche could form on it and climbed steadily in almost blind conditions. Suddenly as the climber tried to place his ice axe into snow and ice, he found that it gripped thin air. He was at the top! Carefully he pulled himself onto the ridge and made himself safe. He shouted down to his brother that he was on a ridge but could see nothing from there due to the conditions. It was a predicament indeed – what to do next? Dare to go over the other side with no knowledge of what was there, or return back down to the potential hazards of the glacier. If only he could see…he asked God and anyone who might be listening for help. Then suddenly, as if by magic, the clouds opened and for 30 seconds he could see for miles and miles and miles. He could see the valley below, the fir trees and the sparkle of village lights in the distance. Quickly he took a bearing on the woods and looked at a potential safe route down. He shouted excitedly to his brother that he had been shown the way, and that he could now make his way up to him.
Within six hours the brothers were walking into the village and the welcome heat of a hotel and a hot meal. They had an incredible adventure and both realized that they had been lucky, particularly as the locals were astonished to hear that anyone had made it down from the mountain in the conditions outside.
Moral of the story:
Try always to be prepared for any eventuality – life can sometimes pull a surprise or two on you. And secondly, trust that all will be well, even in the darkest of moments, because if you ask for help, the universe will very often ‘show you the way’ – it is simply called the Law of Attraction.
We Sell Fish
When Vijay opened his shop in India he put up a sign that said, "we sell fresh fish here". His father stopped by and said that the word "we' suggests an emphasis on the seller rather than the customer, and that it really was not needed. So, the sign was changed to "fresh fish sold here".
His brother then came by and suggested that the word "here" could be removed as it was superfluous as it was clearly ‘here’ and not ‘over there’! Vijay agreed and changed the sign again this time to read "fresh fish sold". Next his sister came along and said that the sign should just say "fresh fish". Clearly it is being sold what else would you be doing with the fish? Later his neighbour stopped by to congratulate him on his new sign. Then he mentioned however, that saying ‘fresh’ just might make people think there was an element of doubt about the freshness of the said fish. So Vijay changed the sign just to read "fish". His shop became a roaring success.
The Moral of the Story:
The moral of the story is all about simplicity and why it really matters. We overcomplicate much of our lives so simplifying our communication in particular, can help us immeasurably in the long run. For one thing, people will understand quickly what it is you are trying to say to them and not misinterpret!
As Henry David Thoreau once said, "our lives are frittered away by detail: simplify, simplify, simplify".
On 12 April 1961 the first manned space mission lifted off from a large purpose built site in Kazakhstan, in what was then the Soviet Union. It had taken many years in planning, trial runs and ground rehearsals, as space control personnel watched in awe as the vehicle weighing 4725kg took off under a dawn sky. The spacecraft named ‘Vostok 1’ with one crewmember on board, Yuri Gagarin, seemingly crawled so slowly upwards as the thrust delivered through the enormous engines laboured in their task. As the spacecraft passed 100,000 feet from earth and into the rarified atmosphere the craft blew its auxiliary engines and entered the space that we call space! From there the tiny craft moved seemingly effortlessly onwards to its destination. A fantastic moment for human ingenuity, determination and technology. It was a defining moment in the race for Space!
Moral of the Story:
Lift off takes a lot of effort, but once we break out of the gravity pull, our freedom takes on a whole new dimension. Take our lives for example. Sometimes we view what is in front of us as unbelievable, unachievable or even impossible. That however, is only a belief that is stemmed in other past experiences that we have learnt about from other people. Even if we have tried to do something and not achieved the result were expecting, we have learnt from the experience, so that we can ‘break free’ the next time. Just like ‘Vostok 1’.