Most of us are familiar with the story of Noah's Ark. Parables from the bible, myths, folktales, books, movies — even the daily events we retell — are stories we remember and think about. Our curiosity about why and how things happen leads us to search for meaning in the form of morals, lessons, or insights. We do that with both complex and simple stories. To demonstrate what I mean, here’s what an unknown author says he learned from the complex story of Noah and the Ark, then I’ll share the insights I gleaned from a simple event that happened today.
Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah's Ark.
1. Don’t miss the boat.
2. Remember that we are all in the same boat.
3. Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.
4. Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something big.
5. Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
6. Build your future on high ground.
7. For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
8. Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
9. When you're stressed, float a while.
10. Never underestimate your capabilities. The ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
— Unknown Author
Unlike the 40 days and nights of rain that befell Noah, yesterday was beautiful and sunny, but very windy. I was strolling through town, appreciating the weather, when a brisk breeze lifted the scarf from my neck and carried it skyward. Like a soft silk kite, it soared out of reach into the busy intersection I was crossing. People around me reached for it as it floated past them. Safely avoiding the passersby and the oncoming vehicles, the scarf came to rest in a tree on the opposite side of the street. Three smiling onlookers followed the scarf and me in pursuit of it. One of them took out his camera and paused to snap this picture, before rescuing my scarf from its lofty resting place.
This whimsical interlude brought four strangers together in a spontaneous adventure. We chatted and laughed for a moment before going our separate ways, and although our encounter was brief, the connection was satisfying.
Afterwards, the experience played through my mind. And, while I don’t have 10 life lessons to offer, I do have these observations:
~ We never know what unexpected delight will happen next.
~ It takes only a breeze and a piece of silk for strangers to connect.
~ People are inherently helpful.
~ There’s joy in spontaneity.
~ Gratitude for an experience is independent of the outcome.
It’s the nature of our minds to look for meaning in stories, whether they’re complex parables like Noah’s Ark, or simple experiences like the flight of my scarf. Our fascination with finding meaning in events leads us to conclusions that may or may not be relevant. So we can follow our curiosity and analyze the messages behind our adventures, or simply appreciate the stories that make up our lives — often with no rhyme or reason at all.