“In the kingdom of hope there is no winter.”—Russian Proverb
Once upon a time in the Land of Milk and Honey, Love and Money lived together in peace and harmony, spreading joy and riches everywhere they went. Everyone in the country was rich, inside and out. Happiness shone on their faces and they praised God for their good fortune. In the natural order of things, Love and Money had many children: Kindness, Beauty, Appreciation, Generosity, Creativity, Grace, and Focus. They, too, bestowed their gifts on the people, who treasured them in return.
The evil Witch of Lack and Lamentation hated the Land of Milk and Honey. She was invisible there. She cursed and screamed and jumped up and down but people just walked past her smiling. You can imagine how frustrating this was. She gnashed her teeth whenever she thought about Love and Money. “How dare they banish me from their kingdom!” she cried. “I haven’t been able to give away a poisoned apple there in decades!”
She fumed over the situation with a black heart, but couldn’t figure out how to get the people of the Land of Milk and Honey to see her. Frustrated, she called a conference of her friends Anger, Envy, Lust, Greed, Sloth, Despair, and Poverty to discuss the problem. She asked each one if they were able to enter the hearts and minds of the people of the Land of Milk and Honey. But they were invisible there, too, and no one paid them any mind at all. The meeting was disintegrating into fights and arguments, when a quiet voice at the back of the room broke in. “I can help you,” said Distraction. “I am only sometimes visible there, but if we await the right opportunities, we can strike the people together.”
And so they did. Distraction waited in the streets of the Land of Milk and Honey for the children of Love and Money. When Kindness stubbed his toe and yelled “Ouch!” Distraction introduced him to Anger. When Beauty bumped into a prettier girl, he presented her to Envy. When Appreciation accidentally caught sight of a woman bathing in the lake, Distraction brought over Lust. He introduced Generosity to Greed, Creativity to Sloth and Grace to Despair. And suddenly the Witch of Lack and Lamentation was visible all over town. Unable to cope with their children’s turmoil, Love and Money got divorced and went their separate ways.
But try as he might, Distraction was never able to introduce Focus to Poverty. They screamed and yelled, threw stones and rolled in the dust at his feet, but Focus refused to look at them. “I have no thought to spare for you!” Focus cried. “I’m busy with dreams and goals I want to pursue!” Focus started an Internet business, milkandhoney.com, to distribute food and drink to the masses, employed all his brothers and sisters, and retired a billionaire to his castle on the hill. At Focus’ home, Love and Money were reconciled, and their children danced joyfully. They vowed to forever work with Focus, and they all lived happily ever after.
“The more I focus on success, the more love and money are mine!”
It’s a bit odd how creativity works. When writing this book, I had in mind that I would teach by story – all the master gurus taught by telling tales and parables: Jesus, Buddha, Sufi masters, etc. Stories are memorable and infused with emotion, have a twist or unique ending, and make a point that is remembered long after all the “to do” lists are forgotten.
Still, it surprised me when a poem would flow out, or this Land of Milk and Honey story. It was fun writing it, and I was quite partial to the character of the Wicked Witch of Lack and Lamentation who made me laugh. She’s a classic Angry Tuna, frustrated and complaining, until she’s helped to take action by Distraction and morphs into a true Shark.
But Focus wins the day. He could also have been named Determination, or Discipline, or Follow-Through. Ultimately, it is that quality that unites all the others and creates success. Without it, all are doomed.