Chapter I – Part 12

$ It is a phrase occurring in a Jewish wisdom folktale involving King Solomon. The phrase is commonly engraved on silver rings. Many versions of the folktale have been recorded by the Israel Folklore Archive at the University of Haifa. Heda Jason recorded this version told by David Franko from Turkey “One day Solomon decided to humble Benaiah Ben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister. He said to him, “Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for Sukkot which gives you six months to find it.” “If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty,” replied Benaiah, “I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?” “It has magic powers,” answered the king. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.” Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility. Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before Sukkot, he decided to take a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day’s wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked Benaiah. He watched the grandfather take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile. That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity. “Well, my friend,” said Solomon, “have you found what I sent you after?” All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled. To everyone’s surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, “Here it is, your majesty!” As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: gimel, zayin, yud, which began the words “Gam zeh ya’avor” -$ “This too shall pass.” At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.” The phrase “This too shall pass” and the associated ring story were made popular by Abraham Lincoln in his ‘Address Before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Milwaukee, Wisconsin’ on September 30th, 1859: “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

$ What can I do about it?

$ Look at the Tai Chi symbol. It basically represents yin and yang forming a unity. They are complementary opposites: south and north, summer and winter, female and male etc. In each of them there is an element of the opposite, like for example light of the stars in the darkness of the night. When I act, I believe, anything is possible. Let it be the white field. When I become dependent on the result of my actions or when I let my ego be my road-sign, then I am in the black spot. On the other hand, the black field would represent acting as if I had a guarantee that my dreams would never come true.

$ You must be joking! I wouldn’t lift a finger, I wouldn’t even lift a toe if I knew that I have such a guarantee. The slightest effort – whatever for?

$ You were talking about the ski jumper AB. Imagine that you are him and that you are at the World Championship. You are able to win. Your supporters around you are cheering. You can see the logo of your sponsor everywhere. What can you feel?

$ Pressure.

$ Exactly. If you have a virtual guarantee that there won’t be any medal anyway, you jump the best you can, only for love to jumping. And you lift the pressure.

$ I’m shocked. What does the white spot on the black field represent?

$ The black field can stand for humility. And the white spot for lethargy, pointlessness, humiliation, false modesty, for “I don’t deserve”. You applied the first exercise to perfectionism. And the second?

$ Morbid gain. I achieve a lot when I am a perfectionist. It gives me a sense of using my time, my talents and my resources to the full. I am an example for others and it allows me to require more from them. I get accolades and prizes. I have no remorse.

$ There’s much to give up. Have you heard of an efficiency expert who was making his report to Henry Ford?

$ No, how does it go?

$ “As you well see. sir, the report is highly favourable, except for that man down the hall. Every time I pass by he’s sitting with his feet on his desk. He’s wasting your money. Said Ford. “That man once had an idea that earned us a fortune. At the time I believe his feet were exactly where they are now.” Permissions are left.

$ I got stuck. Perfectionism is my second nature. I don’t know what to say.

$ Let me tell you what came to my mind. I have a right to say: it’s good enough now. It’s ok to achieve less. Instead of evaluating, I choose sticking to the facts. I focus on myself instead of comparing with others. My value doesn’t depend on what I do, where I am, what I have and whether people praise me or not. I am much more than my bad conscious. Letting go serves my life.

$ I can’t get through this. It’s totally alien to me. There must be a way to learn foreign languages and not to have to be tortured like this.

$ If you suffer from working on permissions, leave it. No forcing. The best solution will present itself.

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