Friday Fodder – Selfless

Once upon a time…

On a rocky dwarf planet, located in the farthest reaches of the Oort Cloud is the kingdom of Eris. Located three times farther from the Sun than Pluto, it takes sunlight more than nine hours to travel from the Sun to the planet’s surface. One Eris year is equivalent to 557 Earth years, so we could say the people of Eris are long-livers. They thrive so far from the Sun due to the light emitted from a giant Crystal Castle near the equator. Legend has it that the true source of light is from an Empress who resides in the castle and the great love she has for her people. The light covers all the land, spreading joy, peace, and prosperity to all inhabitants.

It is forbidden to enter the castle to see the Empress, yet no one can quite remember why. One day the pure light from the castle flickered and began to slowly grow dimmer. At first, the people thought nothing of it. But, in the following days and weeks, the light diminished further until it was almost gone. Crops began to fail, and people began to panic and despair. They cursed the Empress for abandoning them. As outrage grew, they decided to make their way up the mountain to see the Oracle and find out how they could get the light back.

“I know why you’re here,” announced the Oracle as she opened her door.

“Just tell us what you know.” an angry woman in the front demanded.

“Very well,” said the Oracle. “Only he who is truly blind can bring back the light.”

The people were confused and started to mutter amongst themselves. They decided that the old blind man of the kingdom was their only option, and they pushed him to the front of the line.

“No, not you,” declared the Oracle. “You are merely lacking sight, you are not truly blind.”

“You!” She pointed to a young man standing at the back of the crowd. “You will be the one who brings our light back,” she proclaimed.

The crowd turned to face the young man and immediately began protesting in outrage. Everyone hated Kevin. Several people had even tried to drown him at one stage. Kevin rolled his eyes and yelled over the protesting crowd. “This is stupid, your solution isn’t even logical. I mean, I’m not even blind. You know what? I’ll go just to prove this old hag wrong.”

Ignoring the fact that he had just called her an old hag, the Oracle said, “I will give you a good luck charm to assist you on your quest”. She walked up to Kevin and handed him a green orange “Here is your magical orange.”

“This is even more ridiculous than the quest!” he complained “Now, let’s all believe that oranges are lucky,” he said sarcastically as he slipped it into his pocket.

“We are counting on you, young man. Our fate rests in your hands,” stated the Oracle.

Kevin shook his head and stormed off toward the castle. He pushed against the giant crystal doors and muttered to himself about how he was going to prove them all wrong. They were obviously all half-witted and he would make them see that he was the only logical one.

Once inside he was engulfed by the darkness. ‘This doesn’t make any sense either, this castle is our light source and yet these walls seem like they’ve never been touched by light.’ he thought. Suddenly, the room grew damp and cold. He felt water rising around his ankles. His heart skipped a beat and fear drained the blood out of his face. Horrible memories of gasping for air and passing out underwater flooded his mind. Panicking, Kevin started running blindly through the castle, splashing through the water as he went.

Persistent dark thoughts pierced his mind. He still had no recollection of what had happened that day and only remembered waking up in his bedroom. At first, he concluded it was only a terrible dream but his clothing and hair were still damp and he was sporting some telltale bruises.

Out of breath, and realising he was lost, Kevin finally stopped running… which is when the voices began. “You think you’re so smart. You’re a fraud. You’ll never be right”. It was the Oracle’s voice.

“YOU! You’re the one behind this!” he yelled.

The voices didn’t answer. They just repeated the same thing over and over again. Kevin put his hands over his ears and moaned, wondering if he was losing his mind. He hugged his body close for comfort and felt a lump in his pocket. THE ORANGE! Out of sheer desperation, he took it out, and, to his surprise, it looked like the orange was glowing slightly. The voices seemed to die down. ‘This doesn’t make any…’ he stopped. He didn’t want to jinx it. ‘Well…. I guess…being wrong isn’t the worst thing in the world,’ he concluded.

With renewed strength, Kevin began to walk again. Passing a door, he heard someone crying. Opening it, he found a woman crying on the floor. She was translucent and slowly dissolving into piles of ash. “Your highness?” Kevin asked as he knelt down beside her.

“I’m so sorry,” she sobbed. “I… don’t have any more light left to give.” 

Kevin was taken aback. “But how do we…” She stopped him “Do the people still think about me?” she asked, looking up at him hopefully.

“No not really, they just want the light back,” he answered casually, ignoring her feelings. She sobbed even louder and more of her turned to dust. “NO! I mean they think you abandoned them but… but…” he tried hastily to search for better words but it wasn’t working.

“This castle amplifies a person’s love and happiness and turns it into light, but it comes with a price” whispered the Empress. “The person’s happiness is sucked out of them and love needs to be renewed. I… didn’t want to ask people to renew the love I needed because this castle is not safe. Inside these walls it doesn’t amplify love and happiness, it amplifies your greatest fears. I feared that, after forbidding anyone to enter, I’d be forgotten. My fears amplified thoughts that I needed to sacrifice my happiness to be remembered. It was a trap. I forgot myself in the process and now when I’m gone … no one will remember me.” She sniffled again. “What… what’s your fear?” 

“Drowning I guess,” replied Kevin. He was still processing how all of this was highly illogical.

“Oh it’s you… you’re the boy I saved that day.”

Kevin was gobsmacked. “How? You don’t leave the castle.”

“I don’t need to leave the castle to be with my people. You all lived in my light, and that light is a part of me. I see my kingdom through my connection to the light and it was with this same light that I saved you,” she replied.

Kevin’s brain seemed to turn to mush. “But… why did you save me?”

“Even though you may be oblivious to other people’s feelings, I still love you as I love all my people. I think… maybe if you were a little less defensive and self-obsessed, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place,” she replied.

Kevin didn’t know what to say. No one had ever done anything like that for him before. Suddenly he realised what the Oracle meant when she said that he was blind: he was blind to the feelings of others! He looked down again at the fading beauty before him and decided he must save her, no matter what. “There must be something I can do!” he announced.

“There is only one way, but it’s far too dangerous now that I’m already half gone,” she said.

“Please, tell me,” begged Kevin, “We’ll do it together.”

“What’s the point, no one remembers me anyway,” she whined.

“I’ll remember you, no matter what happens I will never forget you. Please let me help you” He comforted her. It was a strange feeling for Kevin, he’d never felt it before and he couldn’t describe it but it felt… nice… warm even.

“The ‘Pool of Selflessness’ lies on the other side of the castle. Only if someone truly cares about me will it heal me, so I can’t do it by myself. You’ll need to carry me and come into the water with me… that is only if you actually care about me” she explained.

“Of course, I actually care… but wait… I have to go…into the water?” he stuttered.

“Yes, it’s the only way.”

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Okay… okay I’ll do it.” He picked up the Empress’ frail body and followed her directions to the ‘Pool of Selflessness’. Kevin noticed he couldn’t hear the voices anymore.

“Did you hear voices back there?” he asked hesitantly as he walked.

“You hear many voices in this castle, but each person will only hear their own fears amplified. It’s another one of the castle’s tricks. What did you hear?” she asked.

“They were saying that… I was wrong.”

“Well it seems that drowning isn’t your only fear.” said the Empress, “Do you still hear them?” 

“No, they stopped a while back” he replied.

“Interesting,” she said slowly “The voices only stop when you overcome your fear.”

When they finally reached the pool, the Empress had almost faded completely. He saw the glint of water with the faint light she was emitting. Kevin was shaking by the time he finally put his feet in the water.

“Deeper, we need to go deeper,” she whispered. He groaned loudly but started wading deeper into the pool. Finally, Kevin reached the point where his feet no longer touched the bottom. He stopped. “Trust me, you won’t drown.” He heard her sweet voice urging him on. He took a deep breath and immersed them both in the cold water. Then all he saw was bright light. 

The next thing he knew he was waking up in a soft bed. The Empress entered in all her glory. “You…you look different,” he stuttered.

“I feel different,” she grinned.

“There’s light,” he pointed out, still dazed.

“Yes I know. Isn’t it wonderful?” She exclaimed, closing her eyes and basking in the glow. She seemed to shine more brightly than he ever could have imagined was possible.

“The Pool of Selflessness was much more powerful than I realised.” She explained. “And you cared about me more than I ever thought anyone could. When you immersed yourself in the water, you overcame your fear. You were completely pure with no more fears. The only feelings you had were pure love and compassion. The castle is no longer dark because of you. The purpose of the darkness is to make a person the strongest they can be.”

“It’s so much brighter than before!” Kevin smiled.

“You are free to go.” Said the Empress. “The light will not fade if you do choose to leave because I know you will not forget me.”

“But, I don’t want to leave” urged Kevin. “I would rather stay with you than be outside with people who don’t care about me,” he said softly. The Empress smiled a smile he would never forget. He had never felt this much emotion for anyone before. The depth and breadth of his love could power galaxies. It was a feeling he didn’t ever want to lose.

“There is just one thing I need to do” he grinned cheekily.

Kevin knocked on the Oracle’s door.

“Well, it seems you have fulfilled your destiny,” she said as she opened the door.

“Yes, I just wanted to say thank you and give this back to you. I don’t need it anymore,” he said as he handed her the orange.

“Ah yes thank you,” she replied, taking the orange. “I was regretting giving you my only orange,” she said as she started peeling and eating it.

Kevin laughed and said , “I guess a banana would have done just as well.”

The Oracle nodded, as her mouth was too full to give a reply.

“Selflessness should be the basis of every relationship. If a person truly cares about you, they’ll get more pleasure from the way they make you feel, rather than the way you make them feel.”

― Colleen Hoover

Moral of the Story:

To be selfless means being concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with your own. Being selfless starts with seeing beyond your personal concerns. If you’re constantly consumed by your own problems and status, you won’t have time or energy to act selflessly. Having a greater awareness of the world is the first step to becoming more selfless. Selfless people don’t act with kindness and generosity because they expect to be rewarded. They do it because it’s the right thing to do, and because it feels good to help other people when you’re able to. If you take pleasure in other people’s happiness, you’ll be more likely to find extra ways to be selfless.

Listen when other people are talking. Yes – really listen! Don’t let your mind wander when someone is confiding in you about their troubles, or telling you an exciting story. Read, watch, or listen to what is happening outside of your inner circle. Be aware of major world events as well what is going on around you. If you understand how someone else feels, you’ll be more likely to feel empathy for that person. Try to put yourself in the other person’s situation. If you were the one experiencing the problem, how would you feel? How would you want to be treated? In today’s world, it can be a challenge to be selfless. Because many people are focused on being individualistic, it may appear that being selfish is now the norm. When you take the time to be selfless around other people, you will find that your impact on the world becomes magnified. Act like what you do makes a difference, because it does.

“If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously—as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers. We have to do that, to be our best selves.”

― George Saunders

Affirmation: I enjoy contributing to the wellbeing and success of others.

As a member of humanity, I extend my compassion to everyone. As I focus on compassion, I naturally relate to others with love and understanding. As my concern for humanity deepens, my life becomes more fulfilling in every way. Giving freely to others makes me feel wonderful. By fully understanding myself, I have a greater understanding of humanity. I encourage others towards their highest potentiality. I always find time to thank people for their kindness. With every smile, I spread positive energy into the world. Everyone, myself included, is deserving of compassion and understanding. What I give out I get back – everything I give to others is a gift to myself. By bringing sunshine into the lives of others, I also shine it on myself. I know that unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.

“When you are unselfish, you are the maker of civilisation, when selfish, you are the breaker.”

― Abhijit Naskar

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