The flood and the old man

Right in the heart of America is a very famous town. It’s famous for several reasons. Firstly, because it’s right smack in the geographical center of the continental landmass. Secondly, because it’s a town of extremes: it’s either very, very hot or very, very cold; either very, very wet or very, very dry; either very, very windy or very, very still.

Just to the north are high mountains, where the water collects as rainfall or snow to form the river which runs right through the heart of the town. Rain started up there in the mountains. Heavy rain, ceaseless rain. It rained for days, and the river got higher and higher until it burst its banks. And the authorities got worried so they sent in buses to evacuate all the people. Everybody left on the buses except a few who refused to leave their homes saying the crisis would pass.

Among these was an old man whose views were particularly strong. »I’m not leaving here,« he told the authorities, »this is my town, this is my home, and anyway I trust in god, I have faith in god, I believe in god. God will save me. I ain’t going nowhere!« And so the authorities and their buses left. And it continued raining and raining and raining. And the river got higher and higher and higher. Until, by the middle of the next day, the water was half was up all the houses. All the folks who had remained were leaning out of the first floor windows waiting for help. Now the authorities were really worried so they sent boats to rescue all the people. And all the people were taken to safety. Except this one old man.

»I’m not leaving here, this is my town, this is my home, and anyway I trust in god, I have faith in god, I believe in god. God will save me. I ain’t going nowhere!« And so the authorities and their boats left. And it continued raining and raining and raining. And the river got higher and higher and higher. Until by the middle of the next day the water was lapping at the tip of the rooftops. And there sat the old man on top of his roof with one leg on one side and one leg on the other. And now the authorities were really really worried so they sent a helicopter to rescue the old man. And it flew in low, flattening all the water around ,frightening all the birds with its chugging and chopping noise, and from a door at the side of the helicopter a man was lowered down on a rope.

»Jump! Jump! I’ll save you,« said the rescuer. But the old man was adamant and waved the helicopter away. »I’m not leaving here, this is my town, this is my home, and anyway I trust in god, I have faith in god, I believe in god. God will save me. I ain’t going nowhere!« And so the authorities and their helicopter left. And it continued raining and raining and raining. And the river got higher and higher and higher. Until… Well, to cut a long story short, the old man drowned… And his soul went up to the place where souls go. And he was angry. He was really really angry. He had been let down! Big time! To have had all that faith and trust! For what?

He hammered on the gate, waking up any inside who might have been asleep. The huge wooden gate slowly swung open on its hinges with a loud creak. Immediately the old man demanded to see god. » I got a bone to pick with god. I wanna see him right now. He let me down. Big time!« Now, Saint Peter, the one who looked after all the traffic coming through the gate, had all manner of qualifications in understanding human behaviour. »Ok, ok,« he said, picking up the anger and frustration in the old man’s voice, »I can see how angry you feel, and I have to say if I was looking at things from your point of view I’d probably feel the same.« »Cut the flannel,« said the old man, »I want to see god and I want to see him right now. I wanna give him a piece of my mind.«

»Ok, ok. I’ll see what I can do,« said Saint Peter, picking up the hotline to the penthouse. »Hello god, sorry to trouble you, but I’ve got a guy down here who says you let him down. He’s real angry and says he has a bone to pick with you. What shall I do?« »Send him right on up,« said god. Saint Peter send the old man to god. Once again he exploded into anger. »God, I’ve got a big bone to pick with you. How could you do this to me? You let me down. I trusted in you, I had faith in you, I believed in you. I thought you would save me. And you let me down. Big time!«

God remained calm and gazed steadily at the man. When the old man had finished, god simply said, »what do you mean I let you down? Have you not learned to use the gifts I gave you; your five senses, your brain, and all the resources in the world around you?« »What the hell are you talking about?« demanded the old man. »First I sent you buses, then I sent you boats, and finally I sent you a helicopter. In your next life you will do well to take a little more responsibility for yourself.«

Source: The Magic of Metaphor: 77 Stories for Teachers, Trainers & Thinkers by: Nick Owen, 2001

Lessons from this story:

  • Be aware of your situation and always adjust.
  • It’s good to have your convictions and beliefs, but always keep an opened mind and opened eyes to what is going on around you.
  • You alone are responsible for your own actions and decisions.
  • If you do not help yourself, do not expect anyone else to help you.
  • Your actions have consequences. Before doing something, make sure you are willing to live with them.

Are there any lessons I missed? Please let me know in the comment section.

Source of the featured image: The flood and the old man

I hope you found this post helpful. Let me know what you think. Talk to you in the comment section.

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