There was once two good friends who lived in a town.
One earned his living as a fisherman, and though money was tight, made enough money to support himself and his family.
The other was a beggar who stood outside a church asking for alms.
The beggar couldn’t beg enough alms for a good enough meal and wine, so after seeing his friend, the fisherman took it upon himself to offer financial assistance to the beggar as well.
Even though he didn’t have money to go around, every weekend, he would share some of his hard-earned money to his beggar friend, even to the point where his family had to sacrifice meat and bought peasant bread instead because they couldn’t afford it.
This went on for over two years, and after a while, his beggar friend grew complacent and instead just hung around his beggar friends around the church gambling the wee bit he had.
The fisherman however felt his financial burdens increasing a little over time but said nothing. He wanted to remain a good friend.
However, one day, the fisherman’s son grew ill. It was very serious and the fisherman needed the money for his son to see the doctor and medication.
The fisherman’s wife told the fisherman, “I know you want to be a good friend but can you talk to your beggar friend and tell him that we are really short of money right now. Our son is sick, and we cannot provide him with a weekly allowance because we are in dire need of the money.”
The fisherman gingerly approached his beggar friend on the church steps. His friend was laughing with his other beggar acquaintances and waved him over.
“You are early this week,” his beggar friend laughed. “But I am happy to accept whatever you give me.“
The fisherman was uncomfortable.
“That is exactly the reason I came,” the fisherman replied as he continued to explain the condition of his sick son. “For the next few months, I cannot support you anymore because I have to take care of my son.”
The beggar’s face fell, and then turned red with anger.
“But you have been supporting me for all these years!” he angrily muttered. “What can I do now? It is your obligation to support me as you have been in the last couple of years! How can you just support me and not support me anymore?”
” My son is sick and we really need the money,” the fisherman explained with a surprised face. He thought the beggar would be very understanding and show his appreciation for the support he has given me all those years. “The doctor said the condition is serious and we would need to buy medicines not just for this month, but also for the successive months to come.”
“You are not a good friend,” claimed the beggar friend. “A good friend never abandons his friends! You have a responsibility to support me. What am I to do now?”
“You can always beg as you’ve always begged,” answered the confused fisherman. “What changed now from two years ago?”
The angry beggar turned away. “The situation was great and you are ruining it. You are very irresponsible!”
Upon hearing this, the genteel fisherman finally grew upset and said, “The money was mine and it was mine to give. I offered my support to you over these years because I found the heart to do so. Now I need the money for my sick son and want to wish to withdraw it, and you call me as irresponsible?”
“Does the years of financial support I gave you count for nothing?” the hurt fisherman continued. “All those years, I gave you money and my family had to sacrice our food… does that count for nothing? Does that not mean I am a great friend?”
“A great friend does not withdraw his support unless he is sure that somebody else can support that someone,” the beggar stubbornly insisted. “It is your obligation to find someone to financially support me if you cannot do it.”
The fisherman was flabbergasted.
He didn’t expect it.
The last two years had been hard. Even though money was tight, he still gathered enough to support the beggar and he is now called as a bad friend?
“Go away,” the beggar bitterly said. “You are not a good friend at all. I don’t want to be in your company.”
“Did those two years not count?” the fisherman sadly thought as he went home. “How can he say I am not a good friend? Those money was graciously given and mine to withdraw. Why can’t he understand that my family needs the money?”
This is the story of my life. I can empathise with this fisherman.
Unappreciated for all the things that I’ve done in the past, for something I don’t want to continue doing anymore in the future.
I’ve been called irresponsible over the last couple of months, that I’ve changed over these years that I am a bad friend/leader because I find myself withdrawing from an organization that I still care about, but no longer have the time to give to.
At first, I gave them hints, warnings and yet they would say, “That is okay, but you have been leading us for all this time. You belong here.”
But now that I need my time for my career and other endeavors important to my future, they realized how serious I was in stepping down and tried to persuade me otherwise.
“You can’t do this,” one said. “What will happen to us now? That would be irresponsible if you left and there is no one to lead. That will be very irresponsible.”
Irresponsible — the word cut through my heart.
It brings me back when I was back at home and I’ve been called names I didn’t feel I deserved.
After over two years of pouring my energy without asking anything in return…
It upsets me that people don’t understand that I need my time — the time I have freely given — back. I have told them time and time again, gave them sufficient warning but have pushed these aside because they thought I was kidding.
But I’m not.
I’m in dire need of my time right now.
And despite my giving my time for the last few years, my beggar friends have angrily do not understand and have withdrawn their friendship, calling me irresponsible and a bad leader.
Did the last two years didn’t even count?
No thank you? No it was great that you were able to contribute?
Just, “IF you were responsible, you’ll still support us.“
Top Climber who has become my best friend has this to say, “I think what’s wrong is that you find it hard to disappoint people. In general people don’t like change and you’re forcing to change. They expect you to still stay when you can’t. Sometimes you just have to accept their sulking faces and walk away because you can’t. And if that means disappointing them, then so be it.”
He’s right — that’s why this time, I have been stubborn and started walking away.
They have thrown stones and hurtful words at me as I’ve made my departure. Others have withdrawn their friendship.
But though my eyes have filled with tears, I look forward.
As I need to do this.
I need the time which I have freely given all these years — back.
After reading some positive reviews, rolled out of work and watched Pixar’s Ratatouille yesterday:
It was a delightful movie with us finding ourselves laughing out loud at the movie theatre. On some scenes, other people even found the time to clap and encourage this talented mouse to succeed.
As usual, Pixar pulled no stops in visual effect, and the movie was beautifully rendered.
I found myself thinking The Incredibles is still a way better movie in terms of plot. Ratatouille’s story was a bit more linear in comparison with the Incredibles which had surprises every step of the way. I mean, I didn’t even expect the bad guy to come back after he was defeated to kidnap the baby.
But if you’re looking for some no-brainer entertainment, Ratatouille is it!
And if my so-called friends have anything to say about me finding the time to enjoy a movie — “If you are in dire need of time, why are you watching a movie?!” — then I have nothing else to say.
My time is freely given. I asked for nothing and I didn’t expect anything in return.
I have been working my @ss the whole time and pushing myself to study — and how can you complain that I’ve been having fun?
You don’t understand — after working consecutive 15-16 hour days, is it shameful to spend some time to at least destress and enjoy myself a bit? Do I not deserve it?
I have enough of their cries.
And I wipe my tears away.
Have a good weekend everyone.
3 thoughts on “The Fisherman and the Beggar”
this is the best blog i have ever read. it is really genius. i think someone will publish this, like sex and the city
Anonymous — *blush* 🙂
Lance, thanks for that.