As the story goes, the great Chinese Emperor, Liu Bang Chew, would be sixty the next year, and an epoch-making event was planned to celebrate this milestone. The gifts started pouring in. Horses, camels, bales of raw silk, spices and exotic perfumes. Gifts they all were. They came in their torrents, as the provincial governors, noblemen, and even peasants, all tried to outdo each other in a frenzied, sycophantic display of fealty. The sheer deluge of gifts was such that an entire city had to be emptied to accommodate them.
Alas, these heroic efforts did not impress the Emperor, as he disdainfully dismissed the gifts as being all too common-place!
A simple peasant, Xu Chi, arrived the palace gates after traveling 2,000 miles on foot from the northern provinces.Â After a month of groveling before the guards, he was granted imperial audience. “O great Emperor, I bring birthday felicitations, and a gift for you!”
“Peasant, your gift had better be an improvement on what I have already seen, or I shall decree that your head be separated from the rest of your body!” The Emperor gravely declared.
Xu Chi hurriedly produced his gift. All craned their necks to peer curiously at it. For, it was a peculiar gift, indeed. It was a bronze bracelet, and on it was the inscription: IT WILL PASS.
The Imperial Executioner gleefully caressed the sharp blade of his sword, even as he calculated just how much force would be needed for a single, effectual swipe at Xu Chi’s scrawny neck. “Peasant, what sort of ridiculous gift is this? How dare you insult the throne in such an infernal manner?” The Emperor roared. Xu Chi, prostrate and trembling with fear, replied tremulously: “Majesty, I humbly beseech you to wear this bracelet from today onwards. As it says on the bracelet, everything shall pass. Your days as Emperor shall pass. Your happy days shall pass. And, no matter the form of adversity, it will also pass, for there will always be light at the end of every tunnel. With the words on this bracelet shall you console yourself in your days of sorrow, and laugh at yourself when you take yourself too seriously. And with the same words shall you caution yourself in your days of glory and conceit. For, indeed, Great One, nothing is of any real and enduring importance in the annals of man, except the value it is given by man.
Yet, My Lord, ultimately, life is nothing if not pure magic, for when all is said and done, all things usually turn out for the best.
And at the end of it all, only one entity will remain; eternal, divine and unchanged: The Almighty, your Creator.”
With tears in his eyes, the Emperor, who had never as much as touched a peasant all his life, got up and embraced Xu Chi.
“Surely, this is the wisest man in all of China!” He proclaimed.
And as the Executioner sadly and regretfully sheathed his sword, the Emperor knighted Xu Chi, and pronounced him Grand Counsellor of China, second in rank only to himself.
From peasantry to nobility. From grass to grace. It will pass.
Today, merely carry these three words with you, in your mind, wherever you go:
IT WILL PASS.
Dr. Yomi Garnett