of Master Samuel Gees.


Do you ever think about when you were young and life was a struggle just to survive? I don’t very often, but this last week several things got my old brain thinking again. The first was watching my houseboy, Brain, struggling to make a good impression on me. Truth be told, he already impresses me. His father died a few years back and he had to be the man of the house – at eight years old. He did a great job helping his mom and taking care of his little sister. Then two months ago he came to live with me. He has worked hard these last two months and still he tries to work harder. What does he have to show for it? He has a roof over his head, three meals a day, and five silver pieces in a jar for when he leaves me.

The second thing that struck me this week are some new recruits for the city guard. Now this is nothing special, new recruits join the city guard three times a year, but this group of young men – or perhaps boys – seemed even less prepared than usual. To give them credit they all were wearing shoes as the marched by as a patrol – read “mob”. They also all had pants. In both cases, however, some of them had holes. Two of the men didn’t have shirts on, one of the ones that did was actually wearing just a piece of cloth with a hole cut in its middle.

The last thing was the dinner that Brian made for me two nights ago. For ten years old that boy is getting pretty handy in the kitchen. He out did himself on this meal. He said it was a meal that he would cook for his father. I could tell that he put a lot of care into it. The meal wasn’t anything special, just some salted fish with mustard seeds, mustard greens, mushrooms, and tubers. It was good, but it was peasant’s fair, and that’s what reminded me of my youth – back when peasant’s fair was a special treat.

So what did these things remind me of you ask? These things reminded me of when I got back to town after my first adventure. Two months of eating trail rations, with what ever we could catch on the way added in for variety. We came back with a little treasure – a very little treasure – which was mostly spent after I paid for a room for the month, bought a new pair of shoes – since two months on the road had done mine in – and had one good meal to celebrate our good fortune.

A week after getting back to town I was living off of the leftover trail rations and looking for odd jobs. Of course what I really wanted to do was head back out into the wild and find the treasure I knew was waiting there for me. What I had to do was try to find money to pay for my room and to put food in my stomach, and hopefully a little to put away into my adventuring fund.

I don’t remember what odd jobs I got, but I do remember how I felt – thankful. I was grateful for every sliver piece I earned. I remember thanking God for my food at every meal and for every coin I got to drop into my “fund”. I could have been angry that I was stuck in town doing jobs I didn’t want to do, but it never occurred to me to be angry – that would mean someone else was to blame for my life. I knew who had picked the life I was leading and how could I be angry with myself when I had my whole life ahead of me, waiting for me to reach it.

For over a year I lived this life of barely surviving, but the barely part was by choice. When the time came to go back out into the wilderness to seek my fortune I was ready. God had blessed me and I had kept my focus on where I was going. I had a song in my heart and kind words on my lips.

Then I think about a different time in my life – a time when I had abundance. I again was coming back from an adventure, but this time my treasure wasn’t little. In fact it was more than I knew what to do with. I ate out every night and got a huge room that I was almost never in. I bought myself new cloths, not because the old ones were worn out, but because I wanted to impress people. I also remember that I complained about the high prices store owners were charging, and I got angry when the people I thought I needed to see, were busy doing something else. In short, I wasn’t very thankful. I bragged about how I had beat the monsters and found the treasure. I told stories about my bravery and quick mind. I had a great time for six months, but inside I was miserable, I didn’t know what life was about.

As I said, that phase of my life ended after six months, when the treasure that was so big that I didn’t know what to do with it was gone. Had I saved some so I could go out on another adventure? No. Was I grateful for all the fun I had had? No. I was angry that it was all gone; that people had charged me too much; that God had not guided me. That’s when I figured out that God had been trying to guide me, but I hadn’t wanted to be guided. So I got so start over. I got odd jobs. I ate other people’s scraps. I shared a room with three other guys. I thanked God every time I got to drop another coin into my adventuring fund. A year and a half later, when I was ready to head off again, I was thankful once more.

So what has all of this remembering done for me? I guess it has made me ask the question, “Which kind of life am I leading? A thankful one or a selfish one?” Luckily I can say that mostly I’m leading a thankful life. There are times that I wish I were younger – that I still had the energy I did when I was fifty. But even when I’m sad that I can’t go adventuring anymore, I’m still thankful that I have my memories and the occasional good dinner – like the pot of chili I smell cooking downstairs.

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