There’s a story about an old WWII veteran, Mr Smith. He was so proud of his contribution to his country, he wore his uniform until the day he died. On the first of each month he would receive a little pension from the government and he’d make quite a ceremony of receiving that little cheque.
One sunny morning on the 1st of June he looked through his mail and picked up a letter he knew contained his little cheque. He smiled to himself as he opened the letter and pulled out the cheque. As he looked out the window he noticed a young neighbour passing by. He swiftly opened his front door and shouted out, “Come here John, I want to show you something.”
He proudly exhibited his cheque and said, “Do you see that signature at the bottom of that cheque? That’s the signature of the Prime Minister. He’s an important man, probably the most important man in this country. John, do you see the signature just below his? That’s the signature of the Chancellor of the Exchequer who signs for Her Majesty’s Treasury. He’s an important man too. He’s responsible for developing and executing the country’s finance and economic policies.”
Mr Smith then proudly straightened himself out to his full height, pushed out his chest, turned over the cheque and said, “John, do you see that little thin line on the back of this cheque? That’s where I put my signature! And you know something John, until I put my signature right there, as important as those two men may be, their signatures aren’t worth a penny!”
I love this story because it brilliantly illustrates the significance and power of our own actions within our lives.
Adapted from a story by Cavett Robert
The bird in the cage had lived there for a very long time. Often it would look through the bars of the cage, out of the window to the meadows and trees beyond. It could see other birds flying free in the open air and often it would wonder how it would be to feel the sun on its back, the wind in its feathers, to swoop and soar and catch mosquitoes in flight.
When the bird thought of these things it could feel its heart beating with excitement. It would sit tall on its perch and breath deep into its belly, sensing the thrill of possibility.
Sometimes another bird would land on the window sill, resting from its travels, and look inside at the caged bird. The traveller would put its head on one side as if quizzically asking itself how such a thing could be. A bird in a cage. Unimaginable.
And it was at these times that the caged bird felt most miserable. Its little shoulders slumped, it felt a lump in its throat and a heaviness in its heart.
One day, the owner of the caged bird accidentally left the door of the cage open. The bird looked through the door. It saw the birds swooping and soaring outside, the sun on their backs and the wind in their feathers, and it felt a stirring inside. The caged bird noticed that the window was open, and its heart beat even faster.
It considered its options.
It was still considering them at sunset when the owner returned and closed the door of the cage.
Taken from “The Magic of Metaphor” by Nick Owen and credited to David Werner and Bill Bower