The Secret Of Life This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "Do you want to know the secret to life, James?" asked my grandfather rather bluntly. This spontaneous outburst took me by surprise. I thought for a second and then looked at his figure silhouetted by the sun and replied "Sure, Grandpa, why not." We had walked in his wonderful garden that was as gorgeous as the garden of Eden itself and smelled as sweet. He told me, "James, don't just listen to what I am about to tell you, but live it. The secret to life is unselfishness."

Unselfishness?! I thought. What on Earth does unselfishness have to do with the secret of life? I didn't understand. I was expecting this mystical, spiritual answer, but instead I got "unselfishness." The idea was nebulous and confusing to me. "I don't quite understand, Grandpa. Could you explain it?" I asked.

He slowly cut a few roses and smelled their beautiful aroma and said, "I expected you to ask me that, so let me begin by asking you a question. Do you like to feel happy?"

"Well, of course I do, Grandpa. Who doesn't?" I said as I looked up from the bush at my grandfather.

"Okay, then what makes you the happiest?"

I then thought he was trying to avoid answering my questions when I began to think, What does make me truly happy? This was the first time that I pondered the idea. I slowly shifted from one foot to the other and replied, "Well, I guess being with my family and friends makes me happy."

As he caressed each velvety flower he said, "Good, but how long does that happy feeling last? Days, months, years?"

"I suppose that the feeling lasts a couple of days," I answered.

"James, here is where unselfishness comes in. The good feeling that comes from helping others and doing good things for other people stays with you for a lifetime," he said, smelling and touching the strawberries to see if they were ripe.

He then proceeded to tell me a story that had always brought him great joy. He told me how, on the twenty-second of October, his car was stolen from in front of his home. The thief was arrested and then brought before my grandfather so he could see who he was stealing from. Grandpa granted the man amnesty and then gave him the keys to the car and said, "Do what you need to with the car and then return it to me, if you please." The man was so taken by these words that he simply looked at my grandfather, thanked him and left in the car. Sure enough the next morning the car, accompanied by the keys and a note of gratitude, was left in front of the house. This story shocked me at first and then made me contemplate and weigh the situation very seriously.

I asked my grandfather what drove him to commit such an altruistic act. He simply responded: "Any man who would resort to stealing something of mine must truly need it, or they must be very materialistic and selfish. So, I began to think of helping the man and I forget myself. Physical possessions are just that, physical and temporary; however helping others gives you something that stays with you forever; a feeling of immeasurable joy. James, you too can feel this great sensation if you try to commit unselfish acts for others."

These words struck me and that day my life went through a metamorphosis and, to this day, is not what it used to be. Not a single solitary day, no matter how cold, hot or miserable, goes by that I don't crave helping others. My life has been blessed substantially because of this. I know the secret of life. It is making others happy through committing unselfish acts. ?


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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shristee946 said...
Mar. 27, 2014 at 3:06 am
Vry exclnt
 
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