Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

Every culture has a wealth of universal truths and wisdom teachings that are shared in stories of a few concise paragraphs. The following are three examples for your inspiration, reflection and learning. They are sourced from Western, Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures.

Learn to write in the sand

Two friends were walking through the desert, and along the way they had an argument. One of the friends slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying a word he knelt in the sand and wrote with his finger, "Today my best friend slapped me in the face."

They kept on walking until they found an oasis with a spring large enough to take a swim. The one who got slapped and hurt was in the water when he suddenly got stomach cramps and started drowning. The other friend immediately jumped in and saved him. As soon as he recovered from the fright, the friend who nearly drowned grabbed a knife from his backpack and carved on a stone, "Today my best friend saved my life."

His friend was puzzled by this and asked, "Why after I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now you write on a stone?"

He smiled and replied, "When a friend hurts us we should write it down in the sand where the winds of forgiveness will erase it away quickly. And when something great happens between friends, we should keep it in our hearts like engraving it on a stone, where no wind can erase it."

It is what it is

Once there was a farmer who worked the fields his entire life. One day his horse ran away. On hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.

"Such bad luck," they said sympathetically.

"Maybe," the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned bringing with it three wild horses.

"How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed.

"Maybe," replied the farmer.

The following day the farmer's son tried to ride one of the wild horses, was thrown off it, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathies.

"Maybe," answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they did not take him. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good fortune and how well things had turned out.

"Maybe," said the farmer.

How do you perceive the world?

A traveler on his way to the next town saw an old woman sitting by the side of the road.

"What are the people like in the next town?" asked the traveler.

"What were the people like in the town you left?" replied the old woman.

"They were unfriendly, cold and indifferent- that's why I left," answered the traveler.

"I'm afraid you'll find the people in the next town are just the same," said the old woman.

Later in the day another traveler passed by the old woman and asked the same question.

"What are the people like in the next town?"

"What were the people like in the town you just left?" the old woman repeated.

"Oh, they were warm and friendly and helpful," replied the traveler.

"They're the same in the next town," said the old woman. PJH