The Importance of Legends
It was a badly-kept secret among intellectuals that the vaults under the British Museum held a portal to another world. It was a jade gate that had been stolen from China in 1840. When its secret was discovered in 1848, a stream of explorers and archaeologists had entered it, never to reappear. Eventually, the gate was locked up.
Until 2012 . . .
Cameras clicked and flashed as Dr. Forbes stood in front of the jade gate.
“I discovered the map in our archives,” he said. “The corner was torn off, but I managed to decipher the ancient Chinese to see that it is a map of the land beyond. It shows where the dangers are, as well as a magnificent treasure, across this plain and beyond these mountains.” He pointed to a reproduction of the three-foot square map. “I will now enter the gate with my team. We plan to be gone a week.”
The next day, a janitor was cleaning up the archive room and found a scrap of paper under a desk. It said 一寸是一万里*, not even English. He threw it away.
*(1 inch = 3600 miles)
No, Americans, you didn’t read that wrong. Today is Thanksgiving in Canada. Of course, in Korea we don’t get the day off and since they don’t eat turkey here, we have to make up our own traditions. In our case, we went out for pizza and watched a creepy movie.
I told my students about Thanksgiving today and asked them what they were thankful for. This is usually what we do on Thanksgiving: take a moment to reflect on the things that we are thankful for in our lives. This is a good practice, of course, and keeps us from taking blessings for granted. However, I realized that it is a passive, recipient-based question, so I decided to turn it around.
Who is thankful for you?
The point of thinking about the things we are thankful for is to count up the blessings we already have. However, the question “Who is thankful for you?” is much more active and has implications for the future as well. In other words, who can we make thankful for us? On a day like Thanksgiving, who can we inspire gratitude in by making their lives better, even in a small way? I don’t need to give you examples: we all know of lots of ways, big and small, to help people around us have a better day or a better life.
Go the extra mile. Try it. Just do it, right?
That is my goal for myself at least: to make others around me thankful.
P.S. Because I have a big Chinese test coming up next Sunday, I won’t be posting anything this week except the
Wednesday Friday Fictioneers story. (现在我需要学习很多。) I’ll be back in full strength next week though.