One day an old man boarded a bus. As he was going up the steps, one of his shoes slipped off. The door closed and the bus moved off so he was unable to retrieve it. The old man calmly took off his other shoe and threw it out of the window.
A young man on the bus saw what happened, and could not help going up to the old man and asking, “I noticed what you did, sir. Why did you throw out your other shoe?”
The old man promptly replied, “So that whoever finds them will be able to use them.”
The old man in the story understood a fundamental philosophy for life – do not hold on to something simply for the sake of possessing it or because you do not wish others to have it.
We lose things all the time. The loss may seem to us grievous and unjust initially, but loss only happens so that positive changes can occur in our lives. We should not always assume that losing something is bad, because if things do not shift, we’ll never become better people or experience better things. That’s not to say of course that we only lose “bad” things; it simply means that in order for us to mature emotionally and spiritually, and for us to contribute to the world, the interchange between loss and gain is necessary.
Like the old man in the story, we have to learn to let go. The world had decided that it was time for the old man to lose his shoe. Maybe this happened to add momentum to a series of events leading to a better pair of shoes for the old man. Maybe the search for another pair of shoes would lead the old man to a great benefactor. Maybe the world decided that someone else needed the shoes more.
Whatever the reason, we can’t avoid losing things. The old man understood this. One of his shoes had gone out of his reach. The remaining shoe would not have been much help to him, but it would be a cherished gift to a homeless person desperately in need of protection from the ground.
Hoarding possessions does nothing to make us or the world better. We all have to decide constantly if some things or people have run their course in our lives or would be better off with others. We then have to muster the courage to give them away.