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In the face of life’s disappointments

Once, a doctor was visited by a stranger who had a box with him. He sat in a corner, waiting until all the patients had gone, and the doctor was left alone. Then, with an air of secrecy, he opened up the box in front of the doctor. It contained a gold necklace. The stranger told him that this chain was worth Rs 10,000, but hastened to add that he did not want to sell it. He only wanted to borrow Rs 5,000 against it. He had run into great difficulties and had felt forced to pawn something valuable. He said that he would be very grateful if the doctor could give him enough money to see him through this emergency. He prom­ised to come back in one month’s time and redeem the necklace. The doctor at first said that he was not interested, and refused to give him any money. But the man persisted, explaining his plight in such a piteous way that the doctor softened and agreed to help him out. He handed over the money, then locked the chain in his safe.

Month after month elapsed, but there was no sign of the man returning. The doctor began to feel apprehensive. Then, one day, he decided to take the jewel out of his safe and send it to the jeweller to have it valued so that he could sell it. To his consternation he was told that it was made of brass. Although the doctor was shocked momentarily, it did not take him long to recover. He said that he had lost his money but that he would not lose his composure. He chose to forget all about this sad incident, and simply took the chain out of his safe and put it in a common cupboard, along with other articles made of brass.

This attitude adopted by the doctor is the best solution to many problems that arise from our dealings with other people. Whenever our hopes and trusts have been betrayed, we feel that we have genuine grounds for feeling aggrieved. When a supposed man of principle proves a scoundrel, a well-wisher turns out an enemy and a reasonable person shows himself to be quite the reverse, we feel really let down.

On such occasions, the best policy is to bring those who have dis­appointed us down from the high pedestals that we had them on, and put them back in the commonplace. What had formerly been considered ‘gold’ should then be accepted as being only ‘brass’ and given a place accordingly. This is the only way to retain one’s equanim­ity in the face of life’s many disappointments.


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