A golden mortar and pestle – Complete things you start.
It’s a little Korean folk fable I read when I was a child.
It took a while for me to put this lesson into practice, but it’s a great story to share with my readers. Here it goes.
A Golden Mortar and Pestle
Once upon a time, there lived a poor farmer. He had a young family to provide for but the money was very tight. Distraught with the situation, he went to the county commissioner/landowner and begged a piece of land where he could grow grains. He promised he would do the best job he could at a bare minimum wage. The commissioner took pity on him and accepted the offer.
He worked really hard day and night. Luckily the land turned out to be so fertile that he could grow a variety of grains. One day he borrowed a cow from a neibourgh and was ploughing the paddy field. And suddenly he saw something very shiny from the field. He went closer to the scene and saw a part of golden mortar sticking out from the soil. He was astonished and pulled it out of the field. He didn’t know what to do with it. It’s gold, pure gold! While he was standing there and thinking about it, a boy, who is very well respected for his wisdom in the village, passed by.
The boy asked him “What is it that you’re holding in your hands?”
The farmer responded, “It’s a golden mortar I just digged out from this land the commissioner owns.” and carried on “It’s from his land, hence it belongs to him. I should give it to him right away shouldn’t I?”
Then boy says, “No, not until you find the golden pestle to match with.’
The farmer was surprised at his response and said ‘No way, it’s not mine and it doesn’t matter if it has a matching pestle or not. I’ve found this in his land and am going to give it to the commissioner right now. He will be delighted.. and you know what? He will give me some awards for my honesty.”
The boy disagreed. “Look. A mortar alone is useless even if it’s made of gold. It needs a pestle. Nobody appreciates an incomplete product.” and added “I’ve already warned you. He may suspect you that you hide the pestle and punish you. Look for the pestle!”
After the conversation, he went to the commissioner against the boy’s advice and got locked up for the reason the boy had warned. While he was locked in a jail, he weeped every night murmuring ‘I should’ve listen to him..I should’ve listened to him…’. It obviously went to the commissioner’s ears and got intrigued about the boy and ordered him in….
From this point on, my memory is rather muggy and patchy. Because I was thinking about the shiny golden mortar and the boy so much. Oh my god, so you can get punished for trying to be nice and honest? If something is not complete, it’s not even worth it? I was deeply confused. So if I were him, if I cannot find the matching pestle, is the mortar going to be mine? Isn’t it a crime? I was even walking on the school playground to look for a golden pestle..hahaha 🙂 I was only 5 or 6 – there was a lot of room for deviation in the story!
But I remember the story was a happy ending for all. The farmer was released and the commissioner awarded the boy, something like that.
Anyway, back to the subject, I believe what the story is trying to say is the importance of completing a job.
(Our ancestors were so clever. They already knew it hundreds years ago. We should pay more attention to the dead people. They just knew everything! )
This is so in line with my previous post ‘De casi no se muere nadie’, isn’t it?
You almost completed a job is the same as you never completed a job.
Oh, this is my own anecdote. When I was a little girl, I once cleaned the dirty dishes while my mum was out for a grocery shopping. When she returned home I was so proud and expecting her compliment. However my mum wasn’t too impressed, rather told me that I should’ve cleaned around the sink where all the water splashed over. How ungrateful and demanding! I was upset at that time but it got me thinking every time I did something for her. Well, I must admit, I rather avoided doing things for her in many occasions when I didn’t care to go to the trouble of completing it. It was a side effect plus my rebelling shrewdness when I was little. 😉
However now I value this lesson (as it should be) extremely highly.
I do complete once I make a decision to start. Of course there are many things where ‘trying’ is enough and valued. Probably most of personal matters are under this category. You can try learning a crochet or a new language. Even then it would be nice to reach a certain level once you start, wouldn’t it? So do a due diligence before a full-fledged commitment, I mean don’t go to Amazon to buy a language learning DVD set costing you hundred pounds until you try some free stuff on the internet or TV and still think buying the DVD is necessary.
If it’s work, there are no excuses. If a task is given (and provided that all details are discussed and agreed), complete it. If you don’t complete it, it will be your waste of time and efforts, and very likely you will eventually have to complete it in the end. Or even worse it will be the waste of somebody else’s time, who has to take it on after you. It can’t do any good to your reputation at work either.
Actually completing things make your daily life a lot easier and simpler.
If you use a clipper you got it from a second drawer of your bedside table, put it back afterwards. You will never have to waste half an hour to look for it when you need it.
If you’ve brought an apple from the kitchen and eaten, throw it in the rubbish bin. Your desk will always be clean.
If you’ve finished a toilet roll, get a new one and fit it in. Manners!
If you do the dishes, go one step further. Clean the dishes and wipe out the whole sink. Spray dettol and make it shiny. Maybe you want to mop the floor too. I guarantee you that she will truly appreciate you.