This is not an original story – others have shared it before (for example, here). Someone shared it with me recently, and we have a Part Two to it :)
The story goes like this.
One day, God decided to create Dog, Cow, Monkey and Man.
God gave Cow a lifespan of sixty years. Cow was to work hard all day in the field under the sun. He would provide man with milk and calves, and he could only eat grass. On hearing this, Cow requested to live twenty years and return the other forty years to God.
God gave Monkey a lifespan of twenty years. Monkey was to entertain man, perform tricks for man and make him laugh. And he would eat only bananas. On hearing this, Monkey requested to live ten years and return the other ten years to God.
God gave Dog a lifespan of twenty five years. Dog was to sit at the door of man’s house, and bark at those who came along. He would eat only what was left over from man’s meals. On hearing this, Dog requested to live fifteen years and return the other ten years to God.
Finally, God gave Man a lifespan of twenty years. Man was to sleep, eat and have fun all day. He would not have to work and would only need to enjoy life. Man really liked the deal, but felt it was too short. He had an idea – he asked God to give him the forty years that Cow had returned, and the ten years that both Monkey and Dog did not want. In all, Man would live eighty years. God thought about it, and agreed.
And this is why we spend the first twenty years of our lives eating, sleeping, playing and enjoying ourselves, the next forty years working hard like a cow, then the next ten years entertaining our grandkids like a monkey, and finally ten years nagging at others like a dog.
This is where the original story ends. Many people find it an interesting parody of life, and laugh it off. Some may even wish that man had kept his mouth shut and just enjoyed his twenty years.
Come to think, is it such a bad idea to take Cow’s forth years, Monkey’s ten years and Dog’s ten years?
I actually think it is a blessing to be able to work hard for forty years (Cow’s) to help make the world a better place, to spend ten years (Monkey’s) helping others find happiness in their lives, and ten years (Dog’s) taking care of others’ interests.
Often, we focus on the WHAT, but not the WHY. If the WHY is meaningful, then the WHAT doesn’t matter so much.
Cow, Monkey, or Dog, are all great lives if we know how to live them meaningfully :)