two boys and their coins

Please listen while you read:

On cold, damp English nights when all you need is the warmth from a fire and a real ale, the Old Glen House is the place! The stone walls, wooden tables, candle light and the fact that it is an easy 100 foot stumble back to my place, makes it the place to be.

Before going out for a currie tonight with Rick and Gill I sat in the Old Glen for a few hours of writing. Amidst the pages which were born was a short story which emerged somewhere in the middle:

Two Boys and Their Coins

There were two young boys that lived next to one another in a small town. Each of the two boys had a grandmother that lived on the opposite side of the town.

At the start of every week the one boy would turn left and the other would turn right and they would go and visit their grandmothers.

The one boy would work for 1 or 2 hours and when he finished working his grandmother would give him 5 silver coins.

When the other boy got to his grandmothers house he would drink milk and eat the warm cookies she made for him. When he finished his snack his grandmother would give him 8 coins and he would be on his way.

The two boys grew up and this sort of thing continued…

The one boy worked very hard. He had a job while going to college and made just enough money to get by.

The other boy grew up and when he was 16 he inherited a fortune when his parents died in a tragic car accident.

The one boy that worked very hard learned many good lessons about being disciplined and noble and hardworking. He only took one vacation in his life. He lived a modest life with a modest looking wife. They had a modest sized house and he died with no debt and one son.

The other boy didn’t learn much about being hardworking or noble. It wasn’t unusual for him to be cliff jumping in South America one weekend and learning Greek on the Island of Crete the next. He ate whatever foods he desired, married a beautiful and rich woman and died at a good old age in his sleep.

The End.

I find this story haunting me…

Categories: bleak and beautiful

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6 Comments on “two boys and their coins”

  1. Robyn Smith
    September 25, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    Hey Mike,

    One kid had a more comfortable life than the other…but they both end up in the same situation: they both died. Both kids in the story seem very happy, one just seems to have been in a slightly worse situation where he was required to work very hard.

    Is there some kind of moral I missed? šŸ˜›

  2. Robyn Smith
    September 25, 2010 at 11:16 pm #

    Sorry for the double post, but: the story is an interesting one.

  3. September 26, 2010 at 8:10 am #

    Robyn,
    Great to hear from you! I get a lot of views on these posts but only a few are brave enough to comment. So thanks for being brave. šŸ™‚

    It does seem that both boys were happy and content in how their lives unfolded but there are no descriptions in the story which tell us about their personal contentment or emotions.

    We can only speculate…

    But I think we in the west would generally assume that the boy that didn’t work for his coins and experienced more exotic things “lived the dream”, got the better end of the stick and lived the better life.

    I think people in the east would generally assume that the boy that gained more virtuous traits died with more wisdom and thus got the better end of the stick…

    We can’t generalize and assume everyone would want A or B.

    All I can do is read this story and ask myself if either/or. There is no right or wrong answer to how I respond to this and that is precisely what haunts me.

  4. Eric
    September 26, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Hmmm…. Why does not having a right or wrong haunt you? Maybe I ‘m missing something, but personally I don’t find that haunting. Thoughts?

  5. Javier
    September 26, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    This story is quite interesting. It would appear that the boy who had to work for his whole life would be the better person based on the lessons he learned. But should that make the other boy the lesser person? He did not choose to be brought up in the environment he was brought up in.
    The same applies to our own talents and limitations. Some people have to work twice as hard to get to the same place as someone who put in half the effort. They then complain that the other person has this natural talent, but it’s not necessarily that persons fault. Everyone has their own path and in the story both boys found success in their own way. We can’t punish people for being themselves.
    That’s my take on it

  6. September 27, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I’ll respond with a follow-up story in a few days.

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