Gandhi and the One-shoe Syndrome | InterveneNow
One of my favorite stories from the life of Mahatma Gandhi is set on a train. Young Gandhi was returning back to India. He waited at the railway platform for the train to arrive. In those days, the train wouldn’t stop for the Indians at the station, it’d just simply slow down, and the old and young would scramble on to (or off) the still moving train. And it so happened that as the young Gandhi climbed on to the moving train, one of his shoes slipped off. As he bent to try and grab it, it slithered down to the track, while the train gathered momentum. In a flash, Gandhi reached for his other shoe and threw it towards the fast disappearing other shoe on the track. A perplexed onlooker wondered aloud if Gandhi had indeed lost it completely. Gandhi explained: ‘Ah well, if someone is to find one of my shoes, hopefully he’ll find the other one too, and thus have a fine new pair for himself!’ What a man. What a wonderful instinctive response! In this age of greed and never-ending wants, it strikes me that we can all take a leaf out of the Mahatma’s book. If you or I were in the Mahatma’s shoes (literally!), how would we have reacted? Probably felt miserable for the rest of the journey, at the loss of a new shoe. Complained about the callousness of the railway system. Cursed the engine driver who had caused the loss. Worried about how we’d manage once we reached our destination. That one lost shoe would have played on our minds all the way, piling on the misery. Unfortunately, we tend to focus on what we don’t have. Our mind zeroes in on what we’ve lost. That other shoe. And we carry that burden of loss, adding to our woes. When instead we could easily focus on what we have- and see if that could be of use to someone. Perhaps it’s time we all shifted focus. Instead of jostling to always become go-getters- wanting more, more, more- we ought to learn to become go-givers. Learning to give. Learning to share. It’s not just about material possessions. It’s like that with respect, too. This go-giving attitude has to become instinctive. It wouldn’t have helped Gandhi to have realized half an hour into the train ride that the solitary shoe was of no use- and he might as well give it away. So here’s an action commitment to make, today. Become a go-giver. Help someone. Share what you have. And discover the joys of not having to worry about the shoe that got away.
Live with a grateful heart and a passionate mind.
Source: Prakash Iyer: The Habit of Winning