The Beggar

September 29, 2007
Beside the busy highway he sat, fingering some of the faded fringe on his obnoxiously worn jeans. Silently, he hummed the tune of a song, his face mildly creased with washed-out laugh lines around his chapped lips. He seemed happy with himself, despite his low rank status in the world in which he resides. Surrounded with sounds of the city life blurring all into one reverberation made of honking cars, yelling vendors, and ringing cell phones; he seemed transfixed on only one noise. He might as well have been invisible to the busy world around him, but the light in his eyes was bright enough to be deserving of a second glance of a passer-by.

The sight of the old beggar, sitting alongside street, caught a young man’s eye. Dressed in a suit and bright blue tie, you could tell this youthful man of his late twenties had a successful stance in the road of life in which he walked. The young man stepped aside his path, and walked up to the old beggar. He asked no questions, but stared intently into the old man’s bustling eyes. The beggar patted the sidewalk beside him in notion for the young man to approach him further more. A bit hesitantly the younger man obeyed.

Once again the beggar stared off into empty space a few moments before he began to speak. Suddenly his eyes showed a little shame at his appearance, knowing somebody is aware of his prescense. He looked down at his ratty plaid shirt, and shoeless feet.

“Please pardon my appearance, son, as you can tell, this moment is not one where I am at a peak.”

The young man replied, “Though you are not a very successful man, why do you seem so happy with the situation life has put in your hands? I noticed you were singing as I was passing by on my way to work.”

With that the beggar smiled, a weak one, but that of one with understanding.

“My son, I have seen better times. I have walked better paths. I once stood broad-shouldered as you do today. Do you not have times in which nothing seems satisfactory?”

The younger man stood silently, still perplexed by the joy on the unfortunate man’s face.

“I sit here before you, invisible to the world. Even in your worst times, you find things to be happy about. Why wallow in your sorrow and misfortune, when you can be rich in other things, such as happiness? I have always had joy in hearing myself sing. What makes you happy?”

Puzzled by the question, the young man stood thoughtfully.

“Well, I have never thought of it in that way. I guess a few things make me happy . . . but I’ve never considered thinking about them. I am a very busy man. . .”

Before he could finish the beggar cut him off.

“Pardon my interruption, but what do you mean by ‘busy?’ A man should never be too busy to forget what brings him joy.”

The young man glanced at his watch. He knew he was going to be late for work . . .

“A weak excuse I bring forth, but I see nothing for you to be happy about. Your health is gone, your appearance is pitiful, and yet you question my work and success.”

The beggar sat upright and stared into the eyes of the young man.

“You have come to me. I do not question your success. I do not question your work. But I do question how you can live your life without happiness. You have value in work. I hold value in living. Young man, a person cannot live by success alone. You are only living if you grasp happiness in your heart. One day when you are by yourself and you have no one there to confide in, remember you are not alone. You can find happiness in the dullest times, and when you find peace with yourself and faith in God, you will never be sad again.”

The young man no longer had anything to say. He placed a 100 dollar bill in the man’s upturned hat beside him, and walked off. Some people will say the young man gave the beggar something valuable. But I think not. In that moment, the beggar was the richest person in the world; to not have hate for the affluent, and to have patience with those who are blinded by sadness. He was rich because he had content that shined to those willing to see it, and enough grace to share his secret to the success everybody, rich or poor, should have.

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