Hero photograph
2021 OBHS Prefect - Boudewijn Keenan

The Last Word

Boudewijn Keenan —

One of the most common struggles that has plagued me through my schooling career is procrastination.

For me, there comes a critical tipping point, where putting the project off is no longer feasible if I want to even complete it. And when that moment finally comes, I am forced by my conscience into doing the work, because procrastination is only temporary and eventually we have to decide.

Decisions aren’t easy. Decisions mean change, and change is uncomfortable. But decisions and choices are what make us human, because decisions create this change, and when our circumstances change, we learn. Humans have the most advanced ability to learn on the planet, and it is this that gives us our humanity.

I have here a short story that describes the paradox of change.

There was once a stone-cutter who was very dissatisfied with his lot. He wanted to be more powerful. One day, he passed a wealthy merchant's house and through the open gateway glimpsed the man's numerous fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant is! I wish I could be like him and no longer a humble stone-cutter", he thought.To his great surprise, his wish was granted. He turned into a merchant with more wealth than he had ever dreamed.

Soon a government officer passed by, accompanied by attendants and soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow before the procession. "How powerful that official is! I wish I were like him", he chanted aloud. Lo and behold, he was now a government minister, feared and hated by all. He liked this new position very much.

One hot summer day, he felt very uncomfortable in his rich robes. Looking up, he saw the sun, shining down on the land. He realized that the sun was more powerful than any minister - indeed, it must be the most powerful thing in the world. It shone down on all things and everything grew because of it. "I wish I could be the sun", said the stone-cutter. And so he was.

A few days later, as he was shining his powers on the inhabitants of the land, a large storm cloud passed beneath him, blocking all his rays to the earth. Frustrated, he realized that the sun was not the most powerful thing in the land if a simple storm could diminish its greatness.

So now he was a storm cloud. He pelted down rain and threw out bolts of lightning and thunder. He flooded the fields and villages and was cursed by everyone. He put on a show for a few hours but soon found himself being pushed away by a great force - the wind!

So he was the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees. Only a while passed until he realized that he had run into something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it. It was a rock which would not budge no matter what.

So he became the rock and was more powerful than anything else on earth. One day he heard the sound of a hammer pounding on a chisel and felt himself being changed. Alas, it was a stone-cutter.

So, at the heart of change is dissatisfaction, a desire for something better. While some may say that dissatisfaction is bad, if it inspires and motivates us to take hold of our lives and be our own masters, we would be mad not to do something different. As Einstein once said, "the definition of insanity is doing something over and over and expecting different results."