A Better Way

Tim and Paul are housemates, and they have been for years. They are similar in several ways; for instance, they love the same delicacies, colours, fashion, and even pets. Nevertheless, their approaches to life can never be more different. Tim prefers a quick fix, while Paul always wants to go all the way in tackling any matter.

One nice and bright day, Paul returned home from work to find Tim having the “battle” of his life! There was water everywhere, more than ankle-deep, and Tim was struggling to scoop it out. Unfortunately, the more he scooped the water, the more it appeared to flow. Whatever was not soaked yet was very much in the process. At a point, he slipped and fell into the water with a splash. “I have had it!” He shouted. Paul rushed in to help his friend.

“What is happening here?” Paul asked. “The tap broke, and water started gushing. I’ve been at it for about two hours. It doesn’t seem to stop”, Tim explained. “Well, have you tried turning off the control knob under the sink?” Paul wanted to know. “What knob? There is no time to find any knob. Don’t I have enough to deal with here? I’d rather scoop the water as quickly as I can than to waste time searching for whatever you called it” Tim was getting upset.

Paul walked carefully through the water to the kitchen. The sight that met him could only be likened in his mind to a tsunami. He managed to get to the sink and stooped under it to find the control knob. He found it and turned it off. Instantly, the water stopped flowing. Paul returned to the living room to help out his friend. This time, Tim noticed that the water level reduced as they worked. “This is amazing!” he exclaimed. “It’s finally working. See? I told you it would work!” “Scooping water was definitely necessary,” Paul agreed, “but stopping the water flow made all the difference.”

Aren’t several of us like Tim? We are energetic and passionate about solving problems. We rush in and depend on our ability to work hard and fast to achieve our goals. However, also like Tim, we realise that we aren’t making much progress. It appears that the more we work, the more overwhelmed we become. Effort can be wasted if we concentrate on the effect and neglect the cause. No matter how hard we try, we cannot solve a problem without tackling its origin. Miguel de Cervantes said, “Take away the cause, and the effect ceases”. Things are not always the way they seem. Dealing with effects takes efforts but eliminating the cause takes wisdom.