The Man Who Sold Words (2)


Photo courtesy Susan Stark

ONCE upon a time there was a man who sold words. He sat quietly in the middle of his store on a beautiful, old rug waiting for people to come in.  One day a stranger came in and said, “What do you sell here?  You don’t have anything in your store but you!”

     The old man answered, “Excuse me, but you are wrong, Sir. My store is full of the most wonderful things of all. I sell words and I have many words.  Would you like to buy some?”

     The stranger said, “If they are good words, of course I want to buy them.  But if they are not good words, I will not pay you!”

     The old man said, “I only sell good words. If you are not happy, you do not have to pay me. But if the words help you, you must pay me $100 for what I tell you.”

      “Then tell me some good words,” answered the stranger.  “My life is hard.  I could use some good words! But I will not pay you if your words are not good.”

     The old man said, “Fine. For you, I have these words:  Wisdom is better than riches.”

     The stranger was shocked and quickly left the store.

     Maybe you think the stranger was shocked because the old man wanted $100 for five words? But that is not so. The stranger was shocked because he was very rich, but his life was truly very hard. His life was hard because he was always worried about his riches. Every day he worried that robbers would come and steal his things. He worried that a fire would burn down his house. He worried that drought would kill his animals. He had no joy, just worry.

     On the way home, the stranger saw a poor man with a noticeably beautiful, big smile.  The stranger said to the poor man, “How can you be so happy? You have nothing!”

     The poor man said, “You are right. I do not have lots of things, but I have many ideas and so I have all I need.  If my shirt gets a hole in it, I know how to sew it.  If someone steals my shoes, I know how to make new ones from banana leaves.  If I need money for food, I know how to help others and they pay me for my help. I am very happy. I have all I need.”

     The stranger gave the poor man $10 and said, “Thank you. Your wisdom has helped me.”   Then, quickly, the stranger went back to the word seller and gladly paid him $100.


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