This too shall pass

My favourite story of all time, which I feel like posting today, has been told in  many different ways:

An old Chinese mandarin, during the minority of the young Emperor, had been governing the country for him. When the Emperor came of age the old man gave him back the ring which had served as emblem of his vicariate, and said to his young sovereign: “In this ring I have set an inscription which your dear Majesty may find useful. It is to be read in times of danger, doubt and defeat. It is to be read, as well, in times of conquest, triumph and glory.” The inscription in the ring read: “This, too, will pass.” The sentence is not to be taken to mean that, in their passing, tears and laughter, hopes and disappointments disappear into a void. But it tells you that all will be absorbed into a unity. Soon we shall see them as integral parts of the full picture of the man or woman.

When I remind myself of this story or tell it to friends in need, I usually exaggerate it wildly and tweak the story to suggest the many years it took to research an ultimate final answer to all questions. This answer would then be wrapped in an envelope and given to the emperor to open only when in dire need, for instance, after having been chased up a hill by a raging lynch-mob. “This too, shall pass” may be big picture, but it is true.