A gambler died. When he opened his eyes, he saw a majestic presence – an elderly man with a flowing beard, dressed in pure white robes. In a gentle voice, he said:
“Welcome, my son, to our Casino in the Clouds. Here you can gamble away to your heart’s content!”
The gambler looked around and saw the most fantastic sight. There was every kind of game of chance he’d ever imagined. Eager to get started, he rushed to the tables and placed his first bet.
The dice rolled, bounced off the edge, and came to a stop.
“I win!” he cried in delight.
And he made the next bet. He won it too.
He bet again. And again, he won. This happened several times. And across every game he played. For hours and hours.
His pile of chips kept mounting, but the gambler was becoming restless. He placed ever more outrageous bets – and still kept winning.
Thankfully, he spotted the bearded old man coming towards him.
“Oh, Holy Father” he called out. “I don’t like Heaven that much after all. Can I leave?”
The man smiled, and said:
“What makes you think you’re in Heaven?”
On one level, it’s about the human craving for uncertainty. For variety, for an element of risk, danger or adventure. Winning all the time quickly becomes boring!
It’s also about the duality that shows up the value of one thing – but only in contrast to another. Or its absence.
Losing (or fear of it) is what makes winning more precious.
The sick are better able to appreciate health. The poor have greater respect for wealth. Absence truly makes the heart grow fonder.
But it doesn’t always take deprivation to foster appreciation. You don’t have to ‘go without’ in order to treasure something.
There’s a painless alternative.
It’s to live every day, every hour, every moment, conscious about all that you have.
Become aware of your world. Acknowledge what’s in it. Recognize its value.
And be deeply thankful for it all.
If you think this blog post has made you feel a bit grateful, you should see my book.