“There is no life as complete as the life that is lived by choice.”
I just realized I have not shared a story for a really long time.
The one below by Shad Helmstetter is one of my favourite stories.
It is from his book Life Choices.
Let me know if you like it too.
There were, in ancient times two twins, orphaned from birth.
The two infants, who were twin boys, were left on the steps of the royal palace by their mother, who was wise beyond her years. One of the orphans was named Naci and the other was named T’naci. The two were identical in every way.
The orphaned twins were beautiful children. It was clear to the palace guards, even when they first found them, that these two infants possessed unusual qualities. When the king and queen – who were without children themselves – first saw the twins, they too knew that the infants were gifted. And so they took them into the palace and agreed to raise the orphan children as their own.
The only legacy left to each twin was a most unusual deck of twelve cards. And these unusual cards which each of them carried were also identical in every way.
The king and queen were overjoyed with the blessing of receiving the two infants and they raised them with all of the love and attention that they would have given to their own children.
The new parents decided to wait before revealing to the twins that they were a blessing that the king and queen had long prayed for. When the time was right they would tell them. And when Naci and T’naci became old enough at the age of twenty the king and queen brought their sons to them and told them of their birth.
It was then that they gave each of their sons the special cards that had been carefully wrapped close to them when they were first found, twenty years before.
“Your first mother must have loved you very much,” the queen told them. “When she brought you to us, she also left two identical and most unusual decks of cards. On these cards are written, front and back, the choices you will have to make in the life that is in front of you.”
And then she said, in the most loving way, “These simple cards will guide you now more than the King or I could ever guide you through the life that awaits you. Take them, use them and always remember that we have always loved you and we have always wanted the best for you.”
And so Naci and T’naci left the comfort of their home to seek their fortunes.
In the years that followed, Naci learned to read the cards his mother had left with him, but T’naci put them aside and went his way without seeking their counsel. And while Naci prospered, increased his knowledge and always seemed to do well, his brother T’naci floundered. From time to time they would meet and talk but there was a growing difference between them.
“Why is it you do so well when I struggle and fail?” T’naci would ask.
“Perhaps it is because you have not listened to our mother,” Naci would reply. “Perhaps it is because you do not use the cards. I have learned to read each of them, each morning of every day and when I do, things seem to go better for me. Why don’t you read our mother’s cards for yourself? If you do, perhaps things will go better with you.”
But T’naci did not. In time, Naci became well known and successful in his own right. But T’naci refused to follow the ideas that his mother’s cards inspired and his fortune fell to failure. While Naci prospered, T’naci fought to succeed and only failed worse.
Within a few short years, it was time for the two brothers to return home to the palace of their parents. It was time for a new ruler to be named and one of them was to be the chosen one.
Both of them returned home at the appointed time and both were met with kind and loving joy from the king and queen. Both of them had always been thought to be special and they were received with all the affection that any parent could give.
But there was a difference now. Naci had somehow succeeded in his life where T’naci had not. And T’naci could not understand why.
The day finally came for the king and queen to declare that there would be a new wise ruler in the land. It was a difficult day for all of them. After all, both sons had been raised in the same way. Both of them had been given the same education. And both of them had been given every possible chance to succeed.
The question that weighed heavily on the minds of the king and the queen and all of the royal advisors was, “Why has one son succeeded while the other son has not?”
It was not until they all gathered together at Royal Announcement Ball that they were to learn the answer. As you might suspect, in their most caring way, the king and queen announced that Naci was named heir to the throne.
“Why,” T’naci asked, “Why did my brother gain the throne when in every way we are the same? What did he do that was so different from me?” And it was at the same Royal announcement Ball that Naci gave the answer.
Naci spoke to the gathered council in a firm, strong voice. He said, “Many years ago my mother, for good reason, left me on the steps of this palace. And in the basket that held me, she left me a gift. The gift was wrapped in a small cloth and written on the cloth were the words, “This is the only gift, beyond my love for you, that I can give you. Take it and when it is time, use this gift to create the life that I would have wished for you.”
“Wrapped in that cloth was a deck of cards that my mother had written in her own hand. On each card was a challenge, and on the other side of each of those precious cards was a choice. I am here today because of those simple cards and the choices they present to me.”
And then in the same clear, strong voice, young Naci read what his mother had written on the cards many long years before.
“On the first card are written the words, CHOOSE YOUR STRENGTH. On the other side of the same card is the words I am strong and then the words I am not strong.”
“On the second card is written the challenge, CHOOSE YOUR HONESTY. On the other side of that card are the words I am honest and then the words I am not honest.”
“The third card says, CHOOSE YOUR BELIEF IN YOURSELF. The other side of the card says, I believe in myself and I do not believe in myself.”
“The fourth card says, CHOOSE YOUR GOAL AND DIRECTION. On the back of the card it says, I have chosen my goal and direction and I know what it is. It also says, I have not chosen my goal and direction.”
“On the fifth card are written the words CHOOSE TO ACCEPT OTHERS AS THEY ARE. On the back it says, I accept others as they are and then the words I do not accept others as they are.”
“The sixth card says CHOOSE TO MAKE YOUR DECISIONS FOR YOURSELF. The other side of this most special card says, I choose to make my decision for myself, and it also adds the words, I do not choose to make my decisions for myself.”
“On the seventh card the words say, CHOOSE TO ALWAYS BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS. On the other side of the seventh card is written. I am responsible for my own actions and the words, I am not responsible for my own actions.”
“On the eighth card is written the challenge CHOOSE RIGHT FROM WRONG and it is followed by the words on the second side of the card I always do my best to choose right from wrong and that is followed by the second phrase, I do not choose to choose right from wrong.”
“The ninth card says, CHOOSE TO WORK FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN and on the other side of this card are the words, I always choose to work for what I believe in and then the words, I do not make the choice to work for what I believe in.”
“The tenth card reads, CHOOSE TO LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES and on the back of the card are the phrases, I choose to learn from my mistakes and I choose not to learn from my mistakes.”
“On the eleventh card are the words, CHOOSE TO LOVE AND BE LOVED and on the back of the card it says I choose to love and be loved followed by a second choice, I choose not to love and be loved.”
“The twelfth card is perhaps the most important of these simple cards. It says, CHOOSE IN EVERY DETAIL OF YOUR LIFE. The other side of this card says, I choose to choose and that is followed by the words, I do not choose to choose.”
And then young Naci said, “These are the words which my mother left me. These are the words which I have chosen to live by. These twelve simple choices have served me well. With them, as your servant, I hope to serve you well.
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