Once upon a time, there was a river. In the river, stood a man.
Sometimes flowers would float past. These the man would grab, to savour their beauty. Sometimes driftwood would bob by. This the man would avoid, pushing away the pieces that came too close lest they strike and injure him.
Day and night the man stood there, grasping his flowers and dodging the driftwood.
One day there was a fearsome storm. The river rose and became choked with debris. Buffeted by the flotsam, the man struggled to keep his footing. The flowers were swept from his grasp.
Nearing exhaustion, the man caught sight of a young boy sitting cross-legged on the bank.
“Help me!” cried the man. “The river will sweep me away!”
The boy stared back, puzzled. “Then climb onto the bank,” he said.
“I don’t know how,” replied the man.
So the boy showed him the way. The man climbed out of the river and sat beside him.
“But now how will I collect the flowers?” the man asked.
“You don’t need to hold them to appreciate their beauty,” said the boy. “In your grasp they will wither and die anyway.”
So the man sat on the bank, watching the flowers and the driftwood float by. And for the first time, he smiled.