A response journal is exactly what it sounds like. You write a page in which you respond to a piece of literature that interested you from the readings for the lesson. There are many things you can write about. You can express your opinion, or compare the literature to something that has happened in your own life. You can write about specific language or imagery that impressed you, or you can mention some of the difficulties you experienced in reading the literature.
Response Journal Options
1. Make a list of possible virtues that you need to improve. What specific things do you plan to do to improve yourself in these areas. Work on these virtues, or one virtue at a time, for a week, a month, a couple of months (you decide) and report on your progress.
2. How does the story “How Much Land Does a Man Need” apply to society today? Explain.
3. Frankl states: “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how” (page 97). What does Frankl mean by this statement? Do you agree or disagree with him? Explain why.
4. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.” Explain why and how this might relate to you.
5. In reading the story “The Bet,” who do you think really won the bet, and what did he win? Explain your reasoning.
6. In looking at the story “The Bet,” at the story’s end, would you rather be the banker or the lawyer? Why?
7. Do you agree or disagree with capital punishment? Explain why. Do you believe that capital punishment or imprisonment for life is more moral? Explain.
8. What would you cross the I-beam for? What would some of your governing values be and why? (You will be identifying them again in lesson six.)
9. Choose any of the pieces of literature in this lesson and respond in your own way.
Hyrum W. Smith
Our actions are governed by what we believe. In the next reading, an excerpt from Hyrum Smith’s book, The 10 Natural Laws of Time and Life Management, he discusses the often unidentified relationship between our actions and our beliefs. As he points out, no matter what religious affiliation we have, we all have a deep set of values or beliefs that govern the way we act.
This is an excellent introduction for this lesson. Understand well the concepts that he covers in this chapter from his book, and then see if you can apply the ideas to the other literature that you will read for the course. Also, see if you can start to apply the concepts he talks about here in your own life. In lesson 6 you will have the opportunity to define and prioritize your own governing values.
Law 2: Your Governing Values are the Foudnation of Personal Fulfillment
When Benjamin Franklin was twenty-two years old—he was living in Philadelphia at the time, having run away from an oppressive apprenticeship in his native Boston—he conceived the “bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection.” In essence, he asked himself the question:
“What are the highest priorities in my life?” From this period of introspection, he emerged with twelve “virtues”—his governing values. So there would be no question in his mind what those values meant to him, he qualified every one of them with a written statement. The result of this exercise is shown below:
* Temperance—Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
* Silence—Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
* Order—Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
* Resolution—Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
* Frugality—Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing.
* Industry—Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
* Sincerity—Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
* Justice—Wrong none by doing injuries; or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
* Moderation—Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
* Cleanliness—Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
* Tranquility—Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
* Chastity—Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
Franklin took these twelve statements to a Quaker friend of his and asked his opinion of them. The Quaker friend looked at them and informed Franklin that he’d forgotten one: humility. He “kindly inform’d me,” said Ben, “that I was generally thought proud; that my Pride show’d itself frequently in Conversation; that I was not content with being in the right when discussing any Point, but was overbearing & rather insolent; of which he convinced me by mentioning several Instances.” So Franklin added a thirteenth virtue—Humility. He wrote a low-word statement describing what it meant to him: “Imitate Jesus and Socrates.” He then organized his life into thirteen weekly cycles, and for one week out of thirteen he would mentally focus on one of those virtues in an effort to bring his performance in line with his values.
At age seventy-eight he wrote in his memoirs, “On the whole, tho’ I never arrived at the Perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was by the Endeavor a better and a happier Man than I otherwise should have been, if I had not attempted it.” The only qualifier he added to this assessment regarded humility (which, you remember, was not one of his original twelve virtues). Of humility he wrote with typical Franklin candor, “I cannot boast of much Success in acquiring the Reality of this virtue; but I had a good deal with regard to the Appearance of it.”
Ben Franklin first identified his governing values, then he made a concerted effort to live his life, day in, day out, according to those values. That is the exact process we will be discussing for the next several chapters. The first step is, of course, to identify your governing values.
Each of us lives his or her life according to a unique set of governing values. Lying at the core of who you are as a person, these governing values are things that are most important to you—for whatever reason. Because they include those traits and beliefs—like honesty and love and belief in a higher power—that are the fundamental building blocks of your personality, you may not be able to explain their importance; they’re just important to you. Other governing values, like the desire for financial security or the need to make a difference, represent mega-goals that we feel driven to accomplish in life. Whatever your particular governing values may be, they are represented by the clearest answers you can give to these questions: “What are the highest priorities in my life?” and “Of these priorities, which do I value most?”
Even though our governing values are our highest priorities, there often exists a gap between these ideals and our present reality. Our performance relating to those values is never perfect, but as our performance improves, something wonderful happens. We experience the inner peace we’ve talked about. Abraham Maslow referred to this unity between our values and our everyday performance as “self-actualization.” It is a bringing together of what I do and what I really value.
Crossing the I-Beam
I’m not going to try to sell you on a set of values. That would be both inappropriate and unnecessary. You’ve already got your values. But having them and identifying them are two different matters. Examining your life and facing up to your actual values may be one of the most difficult (though rewarding) experiences of your life. In fact, this is such a critical activity that I usually suggest to people that they spend five to seven hours analyzing their values and goals.
To get you started on this demanding process, let me walk you through a scenario, originally developed by James W. Newman, author of Release Your Brakes!, that will help you reach inside and discover what these values are.
Imagine that I’ve come to visit you at your home, and I’ve brought with me an I-beam that’s about 120 feet long. In case you don’t know what an I-beam is, it’s a steel beam that’s used in construction. A cross section of it looks like a capital “I.” Turn it on its side and it becomes an H-beam. Let’s suppose I’ve got this I-beam lying in the street in front of your home. All your neighbors have come outside to gawk at it and wonder what kind of strange people you’ve started making friends with. But you don’t care, because this I-beam means money for you. You can put up with a few stares. You don’t care what people think, right?
Now, imagine that I’m standing at one end of the I-beam, and I ask you to take your place at the other end, 120 feet away from me. You walk to the other end, and when you get there, I reach into my wallet and retrieve a hundred-dollar bill. I have to shout a little bit—120 feet’s a long way—but I shout, “Hey, you down there at the end of the beam. If you’ll walk across this I-beam without stepping off either side and get here in two minutes, I’ll give you one hundred dollars.” Would you come? Well, that’s up to you to answer, but I can tell you that in all the seminars I’ve done, I’ve only had one person turn me down. I’ll tell you about him in a minute.
The author then asks you to imagine that you take the I-beam into the city where it is placed on the edge of two tall skyscrapers, over 1,000 feet off the ground. The edges of the I-beam are bolted down ot the buildings on which they are resting. Because the space btween the buildings is so wide, the I-beam bows a little, but the bow is almost imperceptible. Finally imagine that it is raining lightly and that it is windy.
Let’s imagine that you’re on one building, I’m on the other, the wind’s blowing about forty miles per hour, and I shout through the mist and the wind and say, “Listen, if you’ll walk—not crawl—across this I-beam and get here in two minutes, I’ll give you one hundred dollars.” Would you come now? If you would, you’d be the first person I’ve ever met who would come across the I-beam for one hundred dollars. In fact, I’ve yet to find someone who will come across for one thousand or ten thousand or one hundred thousand dollars. At $1 million (tax-free, of course) some hesitate before turning me down. Now, why won’t people cross the I-beam for all that money? For the simple reason that they value life more than they value the money.
Now, let’s change the scenario again. I’m not a nice guy anymore. You have a two-year-old daughter, but I’ve kidnapped her and I’m holding her by the hair over the edge on my side, and I say, “Listen, if you don’t get across that I-beam right now, I’ll drop your daughter.” Would you come now?
As I use this imaginary scenario in my seminars, it’s incredible to see people’s faces when I hold the two-year-old over the edge. Suddenly they understand what I’m driving at. When the scenario becomes very personal, the concept of personal values becomes incredibly clear, and we realize that there are very few things for which we would cross the I-beam. We understand, perhaps for the first time, just how much we value our own life. But we also realize that there are a few things that are more important to us than our own life. A two-year-old daughter or son is one of them. That is a governing value. “I love my child” is the most powerful value for many people. And when we understand that, the implications of that statement start to strike home. Money has value, safety has value, but love of a child has a far greater value. And love of a child goes far beyond walking across an I-beam to save his or her life. It means more than risking your life for that child it means living your life for that child.
Once at a seminar in San Diego, I made the mistake of choosing a woman who had a teenager to participate in this role play. I learned an interesting lesson that day. People will not necessarily come across for teenagers. I had the kid over the edge. I told her to come across. She said, “Drop him.” It ruined my entire presentation.
The effects of this exercise are sometimes electrifying. Several years ago I was teaching this concept to a group of about sixty-five. When I got to the point of identifying our governing values, I asked someone to help, as I always do. And since that experience in San Diego, I always ask for someone who has a two-year-old. On this particular day a woman raised her hand. I took her through the whole I-beam scenario, I had her on top of the [skyscraper], and I said, “Would you come across for one hundred dollars?”
“No,” she answered.
“Would you come across for ten thousand dollars?”
“Would you come across for fifty thousand dollars?”
Then I said, as I always do, “I have your two-year-old child hanging over the edge on my side. If you don’t get across that I-beam right now, I’m going to drop your child.”
Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the response from the person I have selected is instantaneous—“Of course I’d come across.” And the minute they say that, I have made my point. I have identified one of their governing values. On this occasion, however, when this woman was confronted with the death of her two-year-old, she didn’t respond immediately. She sat there stunned, unable to speak. You can imagine what happened in the room. Everyone began to be very uncomfortable They all wanted to respond for her, “Of course, go across the I-beam. Save the child.” But finally, after a long silence, this woman looked at me, very distraught, and said, “No, I don’t think I would come across.” The whole group was stunned.
She felt she should offer a reason for her unexpected response, so she said, “You need to understand, I have eleven other children. If I were to give my life for my two-year-old, who would take care of my eleven other children?” That took some of the tension out of the room. Many people—I could see it in their eyes—thought that was okay. Maybe.
I was able to salvage my point that day, and we proceeded with the seminar, but I could tell that this woman was devastated by what had just happened. She wept silently for most of the seminar, and didn’t hear a thing I said for the rest of the day. It was a very uncomfortable experience for both of us. At the end of the seminar, she approached me with her husband, who was attending with her. She said, “I need to share something with you that I have had to face here for the first time. You need to understand, Hyrum, that the two-year-old child you were going to drop over the edge is a Down’s syndrome baby. You made me face the fact that I don’t love that child as much as I love my other children. That has devastated me.” She continued, “I think I would have come across immediately for any of my other children. I have had a very difficult time loving this baby who has severe mental problems.”
This woman had been driven to the very core of her life. Her values had been laid bare to her eyes, and she didn’t like what she found. This is an important point, because having your values exposed like that causes you to evaluate them, reconsider them, perhaps change some of them. Up to this point she had without doubt treated the Down’s child differently, even if she hadn’t consciously realized it. She had a basic value that said, “I love my other eleven children more than the Down’s child.” That principle had been operating at the subconscious level until we unearthed it that day, but without doubt it had been affecting her behavior. Now that she had become aware of it, though, she was in a position to change it, and at the same time change her behavior.
Finding the Sense of Urgency
Not long after that experience, I found myself in Hong Kong, teaching about eighty-five people in a public seminar sponsored by Dow Chemical. Teaching this principle in foreign countries is interesting because of the different cultures and different perspectives on morality you sometimes find. When I reached the point in the seminar where I ask for a volunteer who has a child under the age of two, a man from New Delhi, India, raised his hand. I started with the beam on the ground, took a twenty-dollar bill from my wallet, and said to him, “Would you come across this I-beam for twenty dollars?” He sat there, very reflective for a moment, then said, “No, I wouldn’t.” A bit stunned, I took him up to one hundred dollars. He still wouldn’t come. I took him up to one thousand dollars, then ten thousand dollars. This man would not come across the I-beam sitting on the ground for any amount of money. I said, “Well, I obviously picked the wrong guy. Tell me why you wou ldn’t come across for money.” He said, “I don’t display any kind of behavior for money.”
I picked another gentleman, a Chinese fellow from the mainland, and took him through the process. I put him up on the [skyscraper], we reached the point where I had his two-year-old hanging over the edge, and I was watching the man from India out of the corner of my eye. The intensity with which he was watching me and listening to what I said was absolutely incredible. When I reached the point where I asked the Chinese fellow if he would come across for his two-year-old, he immediately said, “Of course, I would come across.”
I then turned back to the Indian gentleman and asked, “Would you come across now?” He responded with an immediate and unequivocal “Yes!”
I looked at him for a moment and said, “Isn’t that interesting. You wouldn’t come across for any amount of money when the beam was on the ground, but you would come across at 1,360 feet for your child. Do you understand the point I’m trying to make?” He began weeping uncontrollably in front of eighty-five people and said, “I understand what you are talking about.” It was a powerful moment for everyone in the room.
When people have those kinds of emotions about identifying what really matters to them, something happens inside. They start looking at daily activities in an entirely different light. They start asking uncomfortable questions like, “Is what I’m doing today what really matters to me in my life?”
This is what prioritizing is all about. The I-beam example helps people clear all the clutter from their minds and focus on what is truly most important to them. And when they realize how important certain values are to them, suddenly they experience a sense of urgency that wasn’t there before. Activities that were always important now become both important and urgent, and when that happens, behavior changes.
Shortly after we started Franklin Quest in 1983, I was doing a pilot seminar in Atlanta, Georgia. We hoped it would open the door to six corporations for us; we had ten people from each corporation in attendance. This was a two-day seminar, and the first day we talked about governing values. Everybody was quite excited at the end of the day, except one man. After everyone else had left the room, this guy walked down the center aisle. He was so angry his face was ashen. He stopped about four feet from me, hands in his pockets, and said, “Hyrum, I did not spend two hundred and sixty-five dollars to come to a time management class and have religion thrown at me.” I knew what was bugging him, but I was surprised at my reaction. In fact, I couldn’t believe what I said to him. I looked him in the eye and said, “Hold it. Before you say something you’ll regret, go home, ask yourself tonight if there’s anything you’d cross that I- beam for. If there’s not, don’t come back tomorrow, and I’ll refund your money.”
He said, “Okay, Smith,” and he stormed out.
It was an ugly experience; and I couldn’t sleep that night. The next morning I was there at 7:30, one hour early. I was up front preparing my overhead slides, and this man came in forty-five minutes early. He didn’t make a peep, but came down the center aisle and sat in the very first chair. The chair made a noise when he sat down, so I turned around, and there he sat, just scowling at me. My whole system stopped.
I said, “Good morning.”
“Damn you!” he answered.
“What’s your problem?” I said.
“There are some things I’d cross that crummy I-beam for.”
I said, “Yeah, I don’t care what your background is, everybody has governing values.”
Then he relaxed, and he said something I will never forget. “You know what, Hyrum?” he said, “I’m not doing a thing about any of them.”
Here was a senior vice-president of the Coca-Cola Company with its home office in Atlanta. He had found some things in his life that mattered a lot. And he was nowhere near giving them the attention they deserved. We sat down for thirty minutes before the seminar and for an hour after. In those two discussions I discovered that he was in the middle of a very ugly divorce.
Attorneys were involved. I learned later that he left the seminar, wrote down his own governing values, made an appointment with his estranged wife, attorneys in the next room, showed her his values, and she was blown away. She left that meeting, made a list of her own values, they got back together a second time, compared them, and they were almost identical. Now, let me stress this—two individuals’ governing values are never identical.
Not surprisingly, they put their marriage back together. For the first time in his whole career, his corporate life, he started controlling events around what really mattered to him. My point is this: Everyone has governing values. But those values are unique to the individual. They come from the way we were raised as children, from the experiences we’ve had, from our talents and interests and unique personalities. That’s why I don’t even try to suggest what values you should have. All I’m interested in is helping you discover what they are, and then using them to plan your daily activities. Why? So that you can experience inner peace.
Exactly what is the Constitution of the United States of America? Have you ever wondered about that? The dictionary defines a constitution as a “system of fundamental laws and principles of a government, state, society, corporation, etc.” It’s the “etc.” I’d like to talk about, but first let’s explore the notion of fundamental principles.
In 1787, six years after the end of the American Revolution, representatives from the thirteen states sat down in a convention and decided that the Articles of Confederation weren’t working. That convention was all about discovering the highest priorities and values of this new country. In essence, these men said, “We’ve just crossed a hellacious I-beam, the Revolutionary War. What did we cross it for?” And in that convention, principles began to surface ideas like justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, due process, the right to a speedy trial, the right to vote, and the notion that a people can be united under a strong central government but still be protected from government abuses by certain checks and balances.
And to make these principles and values clearer, they went through the painstaking process of writing them down in a form that representatives from all thirteen states could agree on. These written principles are our Constitution. And it is ours. The first seven words tell the whole world who claims authorship for this document: We, the people of the United States. No law is enacted in any state in this country until it is measured against this set of values for consistency.
Do you know which elderly gentleman had a great deal to do with the writing of the Constitution? Benjamin Franklin. He was eighty-one years old. And it was appropriate that he was chosen a delegate to the convention, because he had lived this principle for more than half a century. He had written his own personal constitution—his thirteen virtues—at a young age and had worked at living them his whole adult life.
I am now going to ask you to do the same thing Ben Franklin did, the same thing the representatives from the thirteen states did. You are the “etc.” in the dictionary definition. I want you to write your own constitution, a prioritized list of your governing values with a brief paragraph describing what each one means to you. Over time, as you grow and change, you will probably want to revise or amend your constitution, just as we have done in the United States in order to meet changing times and challenges. But the fundamentals of our constitution shouldn’t change a great deal. That is why I want you to spend some time on this—it may take as much as five to seven hours—so that you’re certain you’ve reached your core values and can then use them to guide your daily activities.
Quite frankly, the I-beam scenario is a bit heavy. I’ve been to the top of [a skyscraper] and looked over the edge, and I found myself saying, “Hyrum, there isn’t anything you would cross the I-beam for.” But when I’m totally honest with myself, I believe that the first three of my sixteen governing values would move me onto that beam. So would the ones that deal with my family. The others are important to me, but not so important that I’d risk my life for them.
Now, to give you a concrete example of what I’ve been talking about, I’m going to share with you an abbreviated version of my sixteen governing values. Notice that I state these values and their explanations as affirmations. I am not perfect, but as I read my values, I find it helpful to imagine myself as I want to be. Just as an architect imagines the finished building as he is drawing and reviewing the plans, I imagine a “finished” Hyrum Smith as I review my governing values.
1. I love God with all my heart, mind, and strength.
As the scriptures and the prophets have commanded since the beginning, I seek first the Kingdom of God. I exhibit my love for the Lord by living his laws. I pray often, expressing my appreciation and love for all I have. Most of all, I exhibit my love by the life I live and by my untiring effort to serve him in whatever capacity I am called.
2. I love my neighbor as myself.
I recognize and accept the fact that all men and women are equal in the sight of God. I never do anything in any way to harm or destroy the self-worth of another human being. As far as I am able, I aid all people in their needs. Charity is my mortal quest, “the ability to separate behavior from the human being.” I do not criticize anyone’s beliefs. I honor the individual and his right to exist, think, feel, and believe the way he chooses.
3. I obey all the commandments of God.
The commandments of God are clear descriptions of natural laws of the universe. When I obey any natural law, I have a credible claim to the natural consequences of that law. I obey the commandments for two reasons: 1) God asked me to, and 2) they work.
4. I am humble.
The definition of humility that works for me is: The realization of our dependence on God. I recognize that everything I have, am, ever will have or be is a direct gift from God. Humility is not weakness, merely a recognition of my nothingness in the universe.
5. I am an outstanding husband and father.
I take sufficient, meaningful time with my wife and my children to help them in their spiritual, intellectual, social, professional, physical, and financial needs. I love my wife with care, respect, and kindness. I build strong family unity. I build self-esteem in my children and help them maximize their potential.
6. I honor the memory of my father and mother.
My parents gave me life, taught me the basic principles of Christian living, and set a marvelous example for me to follow. (My father passed away more than a quarter of a century ago. My mother died in 1992, and I made certain that she was cared for to the day she passed away.)
7. I foster intellectual growth.
A man can think no deeper than his vocabulary will allow him to. I read regularly each day. I select my reading from the best books and articles of the day. One cannot teach from an empty well.
8. I am honest in all things.
I am honest with myself first, recognizing that to be honest with my fellow men requires that I first be honest with myself. I listen to my conscience on all decisions. The Golden Rule is a natural law of the universe. It works.
9. I use excellent speech.
The ability to communicate orally is a gift. I never use profanity. I use the best English and grammar I know. When a concept is served well, people listen and learn.
10. I maintain a strong and healthy body.
My body is a temple of God that houses my spirit. Maintaining my governing values is not possible without being in excellent shape. I eat, sleep, and exercise in such a manner as to maintain a high level of energy. I take nothing into my body that will in any way detract from my ability to perform at my peak on a consistent basis. I eliminate negative energy.
11. I value my time.
A natural by-product of high self-esteem is an increase in the value of time. Managing time is nothing more than gaining control of the events in my life. In a period of solitude every day, I evaluate the events of my life for that day. In this period of introspection, I determine the sequence of events that will have the greatest value to me. Inner peace can come only when I manage what I do according to my governing values. I and my colleagues have developed the Franklin Day Planner to aid myself and others in this quest.
12. I am financially independent.
I have developed an income that will be present whether I am capable of working or not. My family’s needs are taken care of in such a way that they will never be without food, shelter, transportation, or education.
13. I have a period of solitude daily.
The magic three hours, from 5:00 to 8:00 A.M., are practiced in my home six days a week (and two hours on Sunday). During this period, I teach my family, read, develop my plan for the day, spend time in prayer both personally and with my family. This experience is the beginning of inner peace for each day.
14. I change people’s lives.
I teach correct principles and do so in such a way that people will be motivated to experiment with and utilize them. Once these principles are internalized, people will govern themselves in a manner that will bring greater control and inner peace.
15. I listen well.
I listen carefully to all input, both positive and negative, weigh it, and then respond with respect and love.
16. I have order in my life at all times.
I maintain a sense of order in all aspects of my life. My physical surroundings are always clean, organized, and structured so that they bring calm into my life. My personal hygiene is immaculate, as are my personal habits.
Now, as you can see, this is a tall order. I’m not perfect. I’m not even close. My wife once read these paragraphs and asked, “When, Hyrum, when?” But I’ve set my goals high. I can’t help but set them high, because my goals are tied directly to my values, and the things I value are extremely important to me. If I can keep this vision of the “finished” Hyrum before my eyes on a daily basis, I will find it easier to do the things that will help me be the person I want to be.
Remember that these are the governing values I’ve identified in my life. To you and others, a different set of values will emerge as life’s highest priorities. Here is a personal Constitution shared with me by a young working mother who attended one of our seminars and identified her list of governing values:
1. I am a patient, understanding mother.
Long-range Goal: Happy, unstressed, loving children.
I make time for my children, taking comp time when necessary and reserving my weekends to spend quality time with them. I put myself in their shoes before I decide on discipline, and believe that I do not have to inflict physical pain on them when trying to teach them to do things that I don’t think are acceptable. I love my children unconditionally, and I make sure they know I love them even though I may not approve of some of their actions. I don’t sweat the small stuff and let it affect my basic relationship with my children.
2. I grow intellectually.
Long-range Goal: Better education and larger fund of knowledge.
I listen with an open mind to what people have to say and take in what I think might enhance my world. I read things relating to all aspects of my life (job, kids, the world in general) and seek to internalize worthwhile things. I seek opportunities for formal education that will help me learn and grow. I learn everything I can about my department and company that will enhance my ability to do a better job.
3. I am generous.
Long-range Goal: For the memory of my parents’ generosity to live in me forever.
I remember the generosity of my parents and seek to ensure that their example will live in me always. I help people out whenever I see a need, and expect nothing in return. I give my kids time and love, along with little surprises.
4. I love God.
Long-range Goal: Religious harmony among my family.
I appreciate all that God has given me and love him unconditionally. I talk to my children about God’s love. I show in my own life that actions are more important than words when it comes to being a good Christian. I take my children to church when they are an appropriate age to appreciate what is being said.
5. I am kind to myself.
Long-range Goal: Less stress, more organization.
I regularly exercise and keep myself physically fit. I make sure there is enough time when I get to work to relax and plan my day before work starts. I blow off things that are not critical to the happiness of myself, children, or husband. I love each day of my life and do not waste time on unproductive feelings. I concentrate on the positive in all situations. I have the strength of my convictions, no matter how unpopular they may be among others.
6. I love and appreciate my husband.
Long-range Goal: Harmony, happy home for us and children, “forever” love.
I regularly arrange to have times of undivided attention for my husband (away from our kids). I listen to his frustrations without becoming impatient. I do things to promote long-term happiness between us. I am grateful to God for each day with this wonderful man, and I tell him daily how much I appreciate his love. I concentrate on the positive and minimize the little faults that can bug me.
7. I am productive.
Long-range Goal: More efficient, productive output at work and home.
I realistically plan my day every morning. I concentrate on the things I need to do rather than just the things I want to do. I give my boss “his money’s worth” every day that I work.
8. I am financially secure.
Long-range Goal: Ability to relax and enjoy life without financial strain.
I make sure that I spend less than I earn and save something each month for a rainy day, no matter what. I contribute to my 401k plan and my IRA each year as part of my preparation for retirement and the future. I buy savings bonds for my children’s college education whenever money is left over from the budget.
Here’s another example shared by a seminar participant, writtenin a crisp, concise shorthand style:
Al. I am in good health.
1. I watch what I eat.
2. I take vitamins regularly.
3. I will stop smoking.
4. I will exercise more.
5. I will lose weight.
6. I am reducing stress.
A2. I have a happy marriage.
1. I communicate with my spouse.
2. I consider her thoughts, feelings, and needs.
3. I enjoy her company.
A3. I control my life (time).
1. I am spending time with my family.
2. I think positively.
3. I am planning future and everyday events.
A4. I am financially free.
1. We are planning our future together.
2. I watch what I spend.
3. I am developing opportunities for supplemental income.
A5. I am dependable.
1. People can trust me.
2. I am on time.
3. I do my best in everything.
4. I am honest.
5. I am rock solid.
A6. I learn about new ideas.
1. I look for new ways to do things.
2. I listen to new ideas.
3. I learn new ideas.
A7. I am secure in what I do.
1. I think logically.
2. I decide what to do.
3. I act on my decisions.
4. I am persistent to the end.
A8. I believe in God-given attributes.
1. I believe in positive attitude.
2. I believe in mental power.
3. This makes me more confident.
4. I can do anything I put my mind to.
A9. I am efficient and detailed.
1. I look for ways to do things better.
2. I keep track of events.
3. I keep good records.
4. I think about problems and/or situations.
5. I do things right the first time.
As you can see, the exact words and the form in which they are written don’t matter. Your personal constitution is meant only to be seen by you and those you choose to share it with. The important thing is to identify your personal governing values and to put into words that are meaningful to you some descriptive statements about what those values mean in your life.
Now it’s your turn. Take the time necessary to identify your governing values. This will probably be one of the most difficult things you will ever do, but it will also be one of the most rewarding. As those things that really are of greatest importance in your life begin to emerge on paper, you will experience a sense of clarity and purpose unlike anything you have felt before. And you’ll also find that the act of identifying and writing them down will suggest many things that will start you on the road to doing something about those values.
To help you, here’s a list of governing values that resulted from a nationwide survey conducted in 1992 by Franklin Quest Co. We asked people to identify those things of highest priority in their lives. While everyone had his or her own way of describing these values, the answers taken together clearly grouped themselves into the categories listed below. The results represent a cross section of those things people across America feel are of greatest importance and value in their lives. They are ranked according to the number of responses received by a particular category.
2. Financial security
3. Personal health and fitness
4. Children and family
6. A sense of accomplishment
7. Integrity and honesty
8. Occupational satisfaction
9. Love for others/Service
10. Education and learning
12. Taking responsibility
13. Exercising leadership
14. Inner harmony
16. Intelligence and wisdom
18. Quality of life
19. Happiness/Positive attitude
23. Being capable
24. Imagination and creativity
“How Much Land Does a Man Need?”
An elder sister came from the town to visit her younger sister in the country. This elder sister was married to a merchant and the younger to a peasant in the village. The two sisters sat down for a talk over a cup of tea and the elder started boasting about the superiority of town life, with all its comforts, the fine clothes her children wore, the exquisite food and drink, the skating, parties and visits to the theatre.
The younger sister resented this and in turn scoffed at the life of a merchant’s wife and sang the praises of her own life as a peasant.
“I wouldn’t care to change my life for yours,” she said. “I admit mine is dull, but at least we have no worries. You live in grander style, but you must do a great deal of business or you’ll be ruined. You know the proverb, ‘Loss is gain’s elder brother.’ One day you are rich and the next you might find yourself out in the street. Here in the country we don’t have those ups and downs. A peasant’s life may be poor, but it’s long. Although we may never be rich, we’ll always have enough to eat.”
Then the elder sister said her piece.
“Enough to eat indeed with nothing but those filthy pigs and calves! What do you know about nice clothes and good manners! However hard your good husband slaves away you’ll spend your lives in the muck and that’s where you’ll die. And the same goes for your children.”
“Well, what of it?” the younger sister retorted. “That’s how it is here. But at least we know where we are. We don’t have to crawl to anyone and we’re afraid of no one. But you in the town are surrounded by temptations. All may be well one day, the next the Devil comes along and tempts your husband with cards, women and drink. And then you’re ruined. It does happen, doesn’t it?”
Pakhom, the younger sister’s husband, was lying over the stove listening to the women’s chatter.
“It’s true what you say,” he said. “Take me. Ever since I was a youngster I’ve been too busy tilling the soil to let that kind of nonsense enter my head. My only grievance is that I don’t have enough land. Give me enough of that and I’d fear no one-not even the Devil himself!”
The sisters finished their tea, talked a little longer about dresses, cleared away the tea things and went to bed.
But the Devil had been sitting behind the stove and had heard everything. He was delighted that a peasant’s wife had led her husband to boast that if he had enough land he would fear no one, not even the Devil. “Good!” he thought. “I’ll have a little game with you. I shall see that you have plenty of land and that way I’ll get you in my clutches!”
Not far from the village lived a lady with a small estate of about three hundred acres. She had always been on good terms with the peasants and had never ill-treated them. But then she had taken on an old soldier to manage her estate and he proceeded to harass the peasants by constantly imposing fines. No matter how careful Pakhom was, one of his horses might stray into the lady’s oats, or a cow might sometimes wander into her garden, or some calves might venture out on to her meadows. Every time this happened he would have to pay a fine.
Pakhom would pay up and then he would go and swear at his family and beat them. All that summer Pakhom had to put up with a great deal from that manager, so he welcomed winter when it came and his cattle had to be kept in the shed: although he begrudged the fodder, at least he wouldn’t have to worry about them straying.
That winter word got round that the lady wanted to sell some of her land and that the innkeeper on the highway was trying to agree on a price with her. The peasants took this news very badly. “If that innkeeper gets his hands on that land he’ll start slapping even more fines on us than that manager. But we can’t survive without it, we all depend on it for our living.”
So a few peasants, in the name of the village commune, begged the lady not to sell any of her land to the innkeeper and to let them buy it, offering her a better price. The lady agreed. Then the members of the commune thought of buying the whole estate. They met once, they met twice, but no progress was made: the Devil had set them at loggerheads and there was nothing they could agree upon. In the end they decided to buy the land in separate lots, each according to what he could afford. The lady agreed to this as well.
One day Pakhom learned that one of his neighbours was buying about fifty acres and that the lady had taken half payment in cash, allowing the man one year to pay the balance. This made Pakhom very envious. “They’ll buy up all the land,” he thought, “and I’ll be left with nothing.” So he conferred with his wife.
“Everyone’s buying land,” he said. “We must get hold of twenty acres, or thereabouts. If we don’t we won’t be able to live, what with that manager bleeding us white with fines.”
So they racked their brains as to how they could buy some of the land. They had a hundred roubles saved up, so that by selling a foal and half their bees, by sending one of their sons out to work for someone who paid wages in advance and borrowing from a brother-in-law, they managed to scrape together half the money.
Then Pakhom took the money, chose about thirty acres of partly wooded land and went off to the lady to see if he could strike a deal. He managed to get the thirty acres, they shook hands on it and Pakhom paid a deposit. Then they went into town and signed the deeds, Pakhom paying half cash down and pledging to settle the balance within two years.
And so Pakhom now had land. He borrowed money for seeds and sowed the newly bought land; the harvest was excellent. Within a year he had repaid both the lady and his brother-in-law. Now he was a landowner, in the full sense of the word: he ploughed and sowed his own fields, reaped his own hay, cut his own timber and could pasture his cattle on his own land. Whenever he rode out to plough the land which was now his forever, or to inspect his young corn and meadows, he was filled with joy. He felt that the grass that grew and the flowers that bloomed were different from any other grass and flowers. Before, when he had ridden over that land, it had seemed the same as any other. But now it was something quite special.
So Pakhom lived a landowner’s life and he was happy. And in fact all would have been well had other peasants not trespassed on his cornfields and meadows. He spoke to them very politely, but they took no notice. Herdsmen let their cows stray on to his meadows, then horses wandered into his corn on their way home from night pasture. Again and again Pakhom drove them out without taking further action, but in the end he lost patience and complained to the District Court. He knew very well that the peasants weren’t doing it deliberately but because they were short of land. But still he thought, “I can’t let this go on. Before long they’ll have destroyed all I have. I must teach them a lesson.”
So he taught them a lesson in court, then another, making several of them pay fines. Pakhom’s neighbours resented this and once again began to let their cattle stray on his land, this time on purpose. One night someone managed to get into Pakhom’s wood and felled about ten young lime-trees for their bark. Next day, when Pakhom was riding through his wood, he suddenly noticed something white on the ground. He went nearer and saw tree-trunks lying all around, stripped of their bark, with the stumps lying nearby. “If he’d only just cut one or two down, but that devil’s left me with one tree standing and cleared the rest.” Pakhom seethed with anger. “Oh, if I knew who did it I’d show him a thing or two!” For a long time he racked his brains and finally concluded, “It must be Semyon, it can’t be anyone else.” So off he went to search Semyon’s place, but he found nothing and all the two men did was swear at each other. Pakhom was more convinced than ever that it was Semyon’s work and he lodged a complaint. The magistrates sat for ages debating the case and finally acquitted Semyon for lack of evidence. This incensed Pakhom even more and he had a stormy session with the village elder and the magistrates.
“You are hand in glove with thieves,” he protested. “If you were honest men you wouldn’t let a thief like him off the hook.”
As a result Pakhom fell out with the magistrates as well as his neighbours, who threatened to burn his cottage down.
And so, although Pakhom had plenty of leg-room now, he felt that the commune was hemming him in.
Around that time rumours were in the air that many peasants were leaving to settle in new parts of the country. Pakhom thought, “I don’t really need to go away, what with all that land of mine. But if some of the villagers were to go there’d be more room for others. I could buy their land and make my estate bigger. Life would be easier then, but as things are, it’s still too cramped here for my liking.”
One day a peasant who was passing through stopped at Pakhom’s cottage. They let him stay the night and gave him food. Pakhom asked where he was from and the man replied that he had come from the south, from the other side of the Volga, where he had been working. Then he told how people from his own village had settled there, joined the commune and had been allotted twenty-five acres each. “The land is so fertile,” he said, “that rye grows as high as a horse and it’s so thick you can make a whole sheaf from only five handfuls! One peasant arrived with a copeck and only his bare hands to work with and now he has six horses and two cows.”
Pakhom was terribly excited by this news. “Why should I have to scrape a living cooped up here,” he thought, “when I could be leading a good life somewhere else? I could sell the land and cottage and with the money I’d be able to build myself a house there and start a whole new farm. But here there’s no room to breathe and I get nothing but aggravation. I must go and find out what it’s like for myself.”
When summer came he was ready and he set off. He went down the Volga to Samara by steamboat, then walked the remaining three hundred miles to the new settlement, which was just as the visitor had described. All the men had plenty of space, each having been allotted twenty-five acres without charge and welcomed into the commune. Anyone who had the money could also buy as much of the finest freehold land as he wanted, at three roubles an acre- there was no limit!
Towards autumn, after finding out all he needed to know, Pakhom went home and started selling up. He sold the land at a profit, his home and all his cattle, resigned from the commune and waited until the spring, when he left with his family for the new settlement.
When he arrived with his family Pakhom managed to get himself on the register of a large village commune, having duly moistened the elders’ throats. All was signed and sealed and Pakhom was granted a hundred acres (twenty for each member of his family, in different fields), besides the use of the communal pasture. Then he put up some buildings and stocked his farm with cattle. The allotted land alone was three times as much as at home and it was perfect for growing corn. He was ten times better off here, for he had plenty of arable land and pasturage, and he was able to keep as many cattle as he wanted.
At first, while he was busy building and stocking up, everything seemed wonderful. But no sooner had he settled down to his new life than he began to feel cramped even here. During the first year he had sowed wheat on the allotted land and the crop had been excellent. But when he wanted to sow more wheat he found he needed more land: the other land he had been allotted was not suitable for wheat. In the south wheat is sown only on grass or on fallow land. They sow it for one or two years and then leave it fallow until the land is overgrown with feather-grass again. This type of land was in great demand and there wasn’t enough to go round, so that people quarrelled over it. The richer ones sowed their own, whilst the poorer ones had to mortgage theirs to merchants to pay their taxes. Pakhom wanted to sow more wheat, so the following year he rented some fields from a dealer for one year. He sowed a great deal of wheat and had a good crop. But the fields were a long way from the village and the wheat had to be carted more than ten miles. Then Pakhom noticed that some peasant farmers with large homesteads in the neighbourhood were becoming very wealthy. “What if I bought myself some freehold land and built myself a homestead like theirs?” he wondered. “Then everything would be within easy reach.” And he tried to think how he could buy some.
Pakhom farmed the same way for three years, renting land and sowing wheat. They were good years, the crops were good and he was able to save some money. But Pakhom grew tired of having to rent land, year after year, of having to waste his time scrambling after it. Whenever good land came up for sale the peasants would immediately fall over themselves to buy it and it would all be gone before he could do anything: he was never quick enough and so he had no land for sowing his wheat. So in the third year he went halves with a merchant in buying a plot of pasture land outright from some peasants. They had already ploughed it when someone sued the peasants over it and as a result all their work was wasted. “If it had been my land,” Pakhom thought, “I wouldn’t have been under an obligation to anyone and I wouldn’t have got into that mess.”
So Pakhom tried to discover where to buy some freehold land. He came across a peasant who, having purchased some thirteen hundred acres, had then gone bankrupt and was selling the land off very cheaply. Pakhom bargained with him. After much haggling they finally agreed upon fifteen hundred roubles, half cash down, half to be paid at a later date. The deal was all but signed and sealed when a passing merchant called at Pakhom’s to have his horses fed. They drank tea together and got into conversation. The merchant said that he was on his way back from the far-off land of the Bashkirs, where he had bought some thirteen thousand acres for a mere thousand roubles. When Pakhom questioned him further the merchant told him, “All I had to do was give the old men there a few presents-a hundred roubles’ worth of silk robes and carpets, a chest of tea, and vodka for anyone who wanted it. I managed to get the land for twenty copecks an acre.” He showed Pakhom the title deeds. “The land is near a river and it’s all beautiful grassy steppe.”
Pakhom continued to ply him with questions.
“There’s so much land that you couldn’t walk round it all in a year. It all belongs to the Bashkirs. Yes, the people there are as stupid as sheep and you can get land off them for practically nothing.”
“Well,” Pakhom thought, “why should I pay a thousand roubles for thirteen hundred acres and saddle myself with debt? To think what I could buy with the same money down there!”
Pakhom asked him how to get there and as soon as he had said goodbye to the merchant he prepared to leave. He left his wife behind and set off, taking a workman with him. First they stopped off in town and bought a chest of tea, vodka and other presents, just as the old merchant had advised. Then they travelled for miles and miles until, on the seventh day, they reached the Bashkir settlement. Everything was as the merchant had described: the people lived on the steppe, near a river, in tents of thick felt. They neither ploughed the soil nor ate bread, and their cattle and horses wandered in herds over the steppe. The foals were tethered behind the tents and the mares brought over to them twice a day. These mares were milked and from the milk kumiss was made. The women also made cheese from the kumiss and all the men seemed concerned with was drinking kumiss and tea, eating mutton and playing their pipes. All of them were cheerful and well-fed, and they spent the whole summer idling about. The Bashkirs were very ignorant, knew no Russian, but were kindly people.
The moment they spotted Pakhom, the Bashkirs streamed out of their tents and surrounded their visitor. An interpreter was found and Pakhom told him that he had come about some land. The Bashkirs were delighted and took Pakhom off to one of the finest tents, where they made him sit on some rugs piled with cushions, while they formed a circle and offered him tea and kumiss. Then they slaughtered a sheep and fed him with mutton. Pakhom fetched the presents from his cart, handed them round and shared the tea out. The Bashkirs were delighted. For a while they talked away amongst themselves and then told the interpreter to translate.
“They want me to tell you,” the interpreter said, “that they’ve taken a great liking to you and that it’s our custom to do all we can to please a guest and repay him for his gifts. You have given us presents, so please tell us if there is anything of ours that you would like so we can show our gratitude.”
“What I like most of all here,” Pakhom replied, “is your land. Back home there isn’t enough to go round and, what’s more, the soil is exhausted. But here you have plenty and it looks very good. I’ve never seen soil like it.”
The interpreter translated and then the Bashkirs went into a lengthy conference. Although Pakhom did not understand, he could see how cheerful they were, laughing and shouting. Then they all became quiet, glanced at Pakhom and the interpreter continued, “I’m to tell you that they would be only too pleased to let you have as much land as you like in return for your kindness. All you have to do is point it out and it will be yours.”
Then they conferred again and started arguing about something. Pakhom asked what it was and the interpreter told him, “Some of them are saying they should first consult the elder about the land. They can’t do anything without his permission, but some of the others say it’s not necessary.”
While the Bashkirs were arguing, a man in a fox-fur cap suddenly came into the tent, whereupon they all became quiet and stood up.
“It’s the elder,” the interpreter explained.
Pakhom immediately fetched his best robe and presented it with five pounds of tea to the elder, who accepted the gifts and then sat in the place of honour. The Bashkirs immediately started telling him something. After listening for a while the elder motioned with his head for them to be quiet and then spoke to Pakhom in Russian.
“Well now,” he said. “It’s all right. Choose whatever land you like, there’s plenty of it.”
“How can I just go and take whatever I like?” Pakhom wondered. “I must have it all signed and sealed somehow. Now they tell me it’s mine, but who knows, they might change their minds?” So he told them, “Thank you for your kind words. Yes, you do have a great deal of land, but I need only a little. However, I would like to be sure which will be mine so couldn’t it be measured and made over to me by some sort of contract? Our lives are in God’s hands and although you good people are willing to give me the land now, it’s possible your children might want it back again.”
“What you say is true,” said the elder. “We can have a contract drawn up.”
Pakhom said, “I’ve heard that you made some land over to a merchant not long ago, together with title deeds. I would like you to do the same with me.”
The elder understood. “That’s no problem,” he said. “We have a clerk here and we can ride into town and have the documents properly witnessed and signed.”
“But what about the price?” Pakhom asked.
“We have a set price—a thousand roubles a day.”
“What kind of rate is that—a day? How many acres would that be?”
“We don’t reckon your way. We sell by the day. However much you can walk round in one day will be yours. And the price is a thousand roubles a day.”
Pakhom was amazed. “Well, a man can walk round a lot of land in one day,” he said.
The elder burst out laughing. “Well, all of it will be yours,” he replied. “But there’s one condition: if you don’t return to your starting-point the same day, your money will be forfeited.”
“But how can I mark where I’ve been?”
“We’ll all go to whatever place you select and wait until you’ve completed your circuit. You must take a spade, dig a hole at every turning and leave the turf piled up. Afterwards, we will go from hole to hole with a plough. You may make as large a circuit as you like, only you must be back at your starting-point by sunset. All the land you can walk round will be yours.”
Pakhom was absolutely delighted. An early start was decided on and after talking for a while they drank kumiss, ate some mutton and then had tea. This went on until nightfall. Then the Bashkirs made up a feather-bed for Pakhom and left. They promised to be ready to ride out to the chosen spot before sunrise.
Pakhom lay down on the feather-bed, but the thought of all that land kept him awake. “Tomorrow,” he thought, “I shall mark out a really large stretch. In one day I can easily walk thirty-five miles. The days are long now—just think how much land I’ll have from walking that distance! I’ll sell the poorer bits, or let it to the peasants. I’ll take the best for myself and farm it. I’ll have two ox-ploughs and hire a couple of labourers to work them. Yes, I’ll cultivate about a hundred and fifty acres and let the cattle graze the rest.”
Pakhom did not sleep a wink that night and dozed off only just before dawn. The moment he fell asleep he had a dream: he seemed to be lying in the same tent and could hear someone roaring with laughter outside. Wondering who was laughing like that he got up, went out and saw that same Bashkir elder sitting there, holding his sides and rolling about in fits of laughter. He went closer and asked, “What are you laughing at?” And then he saw that it wasn’t the elder at all, but the merchant who had called on him a few days before and told him about the land. And just as Pakhom asked him, “Have you been here long?” the merchant turned into the peasant who had come up from the Volga and visited him at home. And then Pakhom saw that it wasn’t the peasant, but the Devil himself, with horns and hoofs, sitting there laughing his head off, while before him lay a barefoot man wearing only shirt and trousers. When Pakhom took a closer look he saw that the man was dead and that it was himself. Pakhom woke up in a cold sweat. “The things one dreams about!” he thought. Then he looked round and saw that it was getting light at the open door-dawn was breaking. “I must go and wake them,” he thought, “it’s time to start.” So Pakhom got up, roused the workman, who was sleeping in the cart, ordered him to harness the horse and went off to wake the Bashkirs. “It’s time to go out on the steppe and measure the land,” he said. The Bashkirs got up, assembled, and then the elder came and joined them. They drank some more kumiss and offered Pakhom tea, but he was impatient to be off. “If we’re going,” he said, “let’s go. It’s time.”
So the Bashkirs got ready and left, some on horses, other in carts. Pakhom went to his little cart with his workman, taking a spade with him. They came out on to the open steppe just as the sun was rising. They climbed a small hill (called a ‘shikhan’ in Bashkir). Then the Bashkirs got out of their carts, dismounted from their horses and gathered in one place. The elder went over to Pakhom and pointed.
“Look,” he said, “that’s all ours, as far as the eye can see. Choose any part you like.”
Pakhom’s eyes lit up, for the land was all virgin soil, flat as the palm of one’s hand, black as poppy-seed, with different kinds of grass growing breast-high in the hollows.
The elder took off his fox-fur cap and put it on the ground.
“Let this be the marker: this is the starting point to which you must return. All the land you can walk round will be yours.”
Pakhom took out his money, placed it on the cap, took off his outer coat, so that he was wearing only a sleeveless undercoat, tightened his belt below the waist and stuffed a small bag of bread inside his shirt. Then he tied a flask of water to the belt, pulled up his boots, took the spade from his workman and was ready to leave. He could not decide which direction to take at first as the land was so good everywhere. Then he decided, “It’s all good land, so I’ll walk towards the sunrise.” He turned to the east, stretching himself as he waited for the sun to appear above the horizon. “There’s no point in wasting time,” he thought. “And it’s easier walking while it’s still cool.” The moment the sun’s rays came flooding over the horizon Pakhom put the spade on one shoulder and walked out on to the steppe.
Pakhom walked neither quickly nor slowly. When he had gone about three quarters of a mile he stopped, dug a hole and piled the pieces of turf high on top of each other so that they were easily visible. The stiffness had now gone from his legs and he lengthened his stride. A little further on he stopped again and dug another hole.
When Pakhom looked back he could see quite clearly the small hill in the sunlight with all the people standing on it, and the gleaming tyres of the cart-wheels. Pakhom guessed that he had covered about three miles. He was beginning to feel warmer, so he took off his undercoat, flung it over his shoulder and walked another three miles. It was hot, and a look at the sun reminded him it was time for breakfast.
“Well, that’s the first stretch completed!” he thought. “But there are four to a day and it’s too early to start turning. I must take these boots off, though.”
So he sat down, took off his boots, stuck them behind his belt and moved on. The going was easy now and he thought, “I’ll do another three miles and then turn left. The land’s so beautiful here, it would be a pity to miss out on any of it. The further I go, the better the land gets.” So for a while he carried straight on and when he looked back the hill was barely visible and the people on it looked like black ants; he could just glimpse something that glinted in the sun.
“Well,” thought Pakhom, “I’ve walked enough in this direction, I should be turning now. Besides, I’m stewing in this heat and terribly thirsty.” So he stopped, dug a large hole, piled up the turf, untied his flask, drank and then turned sharp left. On and on he walked-the grass was higher here and it was very hot.
Pakhom began to feel tired. He glanced at the sun and saw that it was noon. “Well,” he thought, “I must have a little rest.” So he stopped, sat down and had some bread and water. He did not stretch out, though, thinking, “Once I lie down I’ll fall asleep.” After a few minutes he carried on. At first it was easy—the food had given him strength. But by now it was extremely hot and he began to feel sleepy. Still, he kept going and thought of the proverb, “A moment’s pain can be a lifetime’s gain.”
He had walked a long way in the same direction and was just about to turn left when he spotted a lush hollow and decided it would be a pity to lose it. “What a good place for growing flax!” he thought. So he carried straight on until he had walked right round the low-lying meadows, dug a hole the other side, and then he turned the second corner. Pakhom looked back at the hill: it was shimmering in the heat and through the haze it was difficult to see all the people there—they were at least ten miles away. “Well,” thought Pakhom, “I’ve made those sides too long, this one has to be shorter.” So he started the third side, quickening his step.
He looked at the sun and saw that it was already half way to the horizon, but he had completed only about one mile of the third side. The starting-point was still ten miles away. “No,” he thought, “although it will make the land a bit lopsided I must take the shortest way back. It’s no good trying to grab too much, I’ve quite enough already!”
Pakhom hastily dug another hole and headed straight for the hill.
On the way back Pakhom found the going tough. The heat had exhausted him, his bare feet were cut and bruised and his legs were giving way. He wanted to rest, but this was out of the question—he would never get back by sunset. The sun waits for no man and was sinking lower and lower. “Oh,” he wondered, “have I blundered, trying to take too much? What if I’m not back in time?” He looked towards the hill, then at the sun. The hill was far off, the sun was close to the horizon.
But Pakhom struggled on. Although it was very hard, he walked faster and faster. On and on he went but there was still a long way to go. He started running and threw away his coat, boots, flask, cap, keeping only the spade which he used for leaning on. “Oh dear,” he thought, “I’ve been too greedy. Now I’ve ruined it. I’ll never get back by sunset.” His fear made him only more breathless. On he ran, his shirt soaking and his trousers clinging to him; his throat was parched. His lungs were working like a blacksmith’s bellows, his heart beat like a hammer and his legs did not seem to be his—he felt that they were breaking . . . Pakhom was terrified and thought, “All this strain will be the death of me.”
Although he feared death, he could not stop. “If I stopped now, after coming all this way—well, they’d call me an idiot!” So on he ran until he was close enough to hear the Bashkirs yelling and cheering him on. Their shouts spurred him on all the more, so he summoned this last ounce of strength and kept running. But by now the sun was almost touching the horizon: veiled in mist, it was large and blood-red. It was about to set, but although it did not have very far to sink it was no distance to the starting-point either.
Pakhom could see the people on the hill now, waving their arms and urging him on. He could see the fox-fur cap on the ground with the money on it; he could see the elder sitting there with his arms pressed to his sides. And Pakhom remembered his dream. “I’ve plenty of land now, but will God let me live to enjoy it? No, I’m finished . . . I’ll never make it.”
Pakhom looked at the sun—it had reached the earth now: half of its great disc had dipped below the horizon. With all the strength he had left Pakhom lurched forwards with his full weight, hardly able to move his legs quickly enough to stop himself falling. He reached the hill and everything suddenly became dark. He looked round and saw that the sun had set. Pakhom groaned. “All that effort has been in vain,” he thought. He wanted to stop, when he heard the Bashkirs still cheering him on and he realized that from where he was at the bottom of the hill the sun had apparently set, but not for those on top. Pakhom took a deep breath and rushed up the hill which was still bathed in sunlight. When he reached the top he saw his cap with the elder sitting by it, holding his sides and laughing his head off. Then he remembered the dream and he groaned. His legs gave way, he fell forward and managed to reach the cap with his hands.
“Oh, well done!” exclaimed the elder. “That’s a lot of land you’ve earned yourself!”
Pakhom’s workman ran up and tried to lift his master, but the blood flowed from his mouth. Pakhom was dead.
The Bashkirs clicked their tongues sympathetically.
Pakhom’s workman picked up the spade, dug a grave for his master—six feet from head to heel, which was exactly the right length—and buried him.
The Bet (translated by Constance Garnett)
It was a dark autumn night. The old banker was walking up and down his study and remembering how, fifteen years before, he had given a party one autumn evening. There had been many clever men there, and there had been interesting conversations. Among other things, they had talked of capital punishment. The majority of the guests, among whom were many journalists and intellectual men, disapproved of the death penalty. They considered that form of punishment out of date, immoral, and unsuitable for Christian states. In the opinion of some of them, the death penalty ought to be replaced everywhere by imprisonment for life.
“I don’t agree with you,” said their host, the banker, “I have not tried either the death penalty or imprisonment for life, but if one may judge a priori the death penalty is more moral and more humane than imprisonment for life. Capital punishment lulls a man at once, but lifelong imprisonment kills him slowly. Which executioner is the more humane, he who kills you in a few minutes or he who drags the life out of you in the course of many years?”
“Both are equally immoral,” observed one of the guests, “for they both have the same object—to take away life. The state is not God. It has not the right to take away what it cannot restore when it wants to.”
Among the guests was a young lawyer, a young man of five-and-twenty. When he was asked his opinion, he said, “The death sentence and the life sentence are equally immoral, but if I had to choose between the death penalty and imprisonment for life, I would certainly choose the second. To live anyhow is better than not at all.”
A lively discussion arose. The banker, who was younger and more nervous in those days, was suddenly carried away by excitement, he struck the table with his fist and shouted at the young man, “It’s not! I’ll bet you two million you wouldn’t stay in solitary confinement for five years.”
“If you mean that in earnest,” said the young man, “I’ll take the bet, but I would stay not five, but fifteen years.”
“Fifteen? Done!” cried the banker. “Gentlemen, I stake two million!”
“Agreed! You stake your millions and I stake my freedom!” said the young man
And this wild, senseless bet was carried out! The banker, spoiled and frivolous, with millions beyond his reckoning, was delighted at the bet. At supper he made fun of the young man and said: “Think better of it, young man, while there is still time. To me two million is a trifle, but you are losing three or four of the best years of your life. I say three or four, because you won’t stay longer. Don’t forget either, you unhappy man, that voluntary confinement is a great deal harder to bear than compulsory. The thought that you have the right to step out in liberty at any moment will poison your whole existence in prison. I am sorry for you.”
And now the banker, walking to and fro, remembered all this and asked himself: “What was the object of that bet? What is the good that man’s losing fifteen years of his life and throwing away two million? Can it prove the death penalty is better or worse than imprisonment for life? No, no. It was all nonsensical and meaningless. On my part it was the caprice of a pampered man, and on his part greed for money. . . .”
Then he remembered what followed that evening. It was decided that the young man should spend the years of his captivity under the strictest supervision in one of the lodges in the banker’s garden. It was agreed that for fifteen years he should not be free to cross the threshold of the lodge, to see human beings, to hear the human voice, or to receive letters and newspapers. He was allowed to have a musical instrument and books and was allowed to write letters, to drink wine, and to smoke. By the terms of the agreement the only relations he could have with the outer world were by a little window made purposely for that object. He might have anything he wanted music, wine, and so on—in any quantity desired, by writing an order, but could receive them only through the window. The agreement provided for every detail and every trifle that would make his imprisonment strictly solitary and bound the young man to stay there exactly fifteen years, beginning from twelve o’clock of November 14, 1870, and ending at twelve o’clock of November 14, 1885. The slightest attempt on his part to break the conditions, if only two minutes before the end, released the banker from the obligation to pay him two million.
For the first year of his confinement, as far as one could judge from his brief notes, the prisoner suffered severely from loneliness and depression. The sounds of the piano could heard continually day and night from his lodge. He refused wine and tobacco. Wine, he wrote excites the desires, and desires are the worst foes of the prisoner; and besides, nothing could be more dreary than drinking good wine and seeing no one. And tobacco spoiled the air of his room. In the first year the books he sent for were principally of a light character—novels with a complicated love plot, sensational and fantastic stories, and so on.
In the second year the piano was silent in the lodge, and the prisoner asked only for the classics. In the fifth year music was audible again, and the prisoner asked for wine. Those who watched him through the window said that all that year he spent doing nothing but eating and drinking and lying on his bed, frequently yawning and talking angrily to himself. He did not read books. Sometimes at night he would sit down to write, he would spend hours writing and in the morning tear up all that he had written. More than once he could be heard crying.
In the second half of the sixth year the prisoner began zealously studying languages, philosophy and history. He threw himself eagerly into these studies—so much so that the banker had enough to do to get him the books he ordered. In the course of four years, some six hundred volumes were procured at his request. It was during this period that the banker received the following letter from his prisoner :
“My dear Jailer, I write you these lines in six languages. Show them to people who know the languages. Let them read them. If they find not one mistake, I implore you to fire a shot in the garden. That shot will show me that my efforts have not been thrown away. The geniuses of all ages and of all lands speak different languages, but the same flame burns in them all. Oh, if you only knew what unearthly happiness my soul feels now from being able to understand them!”
The prisoner’s desire was fulfilled. The banker ordered two shots to be fired in the garden.
Then, after the tenth year, the prisoner sat immovably at the table and read nothing but the Gospels. It seemed strange to the banker that a man who in four years had mastered six hundred learned volumes should waste nearly a year over one thin book easy of comprehension. Theology and histories of religion followed the Gospels.
In the last two years of his confinement, the prisoner read an immense quantity of books quite indiscriminately. At one time he was busy with the natural sciences, then he would ask for Byron or Shakespeare. There were notes in which he demanded at the same time books on chemistry, and a manual of medicine, and a novel, and some treatise on philosophy or theology. His reading suggested a man swimming in the sea among the wreckage of his ship and trying to save his life by greedily clutching first at one spar and then at another.
The old banker remembered all this and thought, “Tomorrow at twelve o’clock he will regain his freedom. By our arrangement I ought to pay him two million. If I do pay him, it is all over with me, I shall be utterly ruined.”
Fifteen years before, his millions had been beyond his reckoning; now he was afraid to ask himself which were greater, his debts or his assets. Desperate gambling on the Stock Exchange, wild speculation, and the excitability which he could not get over even in advancing years had by degrees led to the decline of his fortune, and the proud, fearless, self-confident millionaire had become a banker of middling rank, trembling at every rise and fall in his investments. “Cursed bet!” muttered the old man, clutching his head in despair. “Why didn’t the man die? He is only forty now. He will take my last penny from me, he will marry, will enjoy life, will gamble on the Exchange, while I shall look at him with envy like a beggar and hear from him every day the same sentence: ‘I am indebted to you for the happiness of my life; let me help you!’ No, it is too much! The one means of being saved from bankruptcy and disgrace is the death of that man!”
It struck three o’clock. The banker listened; everyone was asleep in the house, and nothing could be heard outside but the rustling of the chilled trees. Trying to make no noise, he took from a fireproof safe the key of the door which had not been opened for fifteen years, put on his overcoat, and went out of the house.
It was dark and cold in the garden. Rain was falling. A damp, cutting wind was racing about the garden, howling and giving the trees no rest. The banker strained his eyes but could see neither the earth nor the white statues, nor the lodge, nor the trees. Going to the spot where the lodge stood, he twice called the watchman. No answer followed. Evidently the watchman had sought shelter from the weather and was now asleep somewhere either in the kitchen or in the greenhouse.
“If I had the pluck to carry out my intention,” thought the old man, “suspicion would fall first upon the watchman.”
He felt in the darkness for the steps and the door and went into the entry of the lodge. Then he groped his way into a little passage and lighted a match. There was not a soul there. There was a bedstead with no bedding on it, and in the corner there was a dark cast-iron stove. The seals on the door leading to the prisoner’s rooms were intact.
When the match went out, the old man, trembling with emotion, peeped through the little window. A candle was burning dimly in the prisoner’s room. He was sitting at the table. Nothing could be seen but his back, the hair on his head, and his hands. Open books were lying on the table, on the two easy chairs, and on the carpet near the table.
Five minutes passed and the prisoner did not once stir. Fifteen years’ imprisonment had taught him to sit still. The banker tapped at the window with his finger, and the prisoner made no movement whatever in response. Then the banker cautiously broke the seals off the door and put the key in the keyhole. The rusty lock gave a grating sound and the door creaked. The banker expected to hear at once footsteps and a cry of astonishment, but three minutes passed and it was as quiet as ever in the room. He made up his mind to go in.
At the table a man unlike ordinary people was sitting motionless. He was a skeleton with the skin drawn tight over his bones, with long curls like a woman’s, and a shaggy beard. His face was yellow with an earthy tint in it, his cheeks were hollow, his back long and narrow, and the hand on which his shaggy head was propped was so thin and delicate that it was dreadful to look at it. His hair was already streaked with silver, and seeing his emaciated, aged-looking face, no one would have believed that he was only forty. He was asleep. In front of his bowed head there lay on the table a sheet of paper, on which there was something written in fine handwriting.
“Poor creature!” thought the banker, “he is asleep and most likely dreaming of the millions. And I have only to take this half-dead man, throw him on the bed, stifle him a little with the pillow, and the most conscientious expert would find no sign of a violent death. But let us first read what he has written here. . . .”
The banker took the page from the table and read as follows:
“Tomorrow at twelve o’clock I regain my freedom and the right to associate with other men, but before I leave this room and see the sunshine, I think it necessary to say a few words to you. With a clear conscience I tell you, as before God, who beholds me, that I despise freedom and life and health and all that in your books is called the good things of the world.
“For fifteen years I have been intently studying earthly life. It is true I have not seen the earth or men, but in your books I have drunk fragrant wine, I have sung songs, I have hunted stags and wild boats in the forests, I have loved women. . . . Beauties as ethereal as clouds, created by the magic of your poets and geniuses, have visited me at night and have whispered m my ears wonderful tales that have set my brain in a whirl. In your books I have climbed to the peaks of Elburz and Mont Blanc, and from there I have seen the sun rise and have watched it at evening flood the sky, the ocean, and the mountaintops with gold and crimson. I have watched from there the lightning flashing over my head and cleaving the storm clouds. I have seen green forests, fields, rivers, lakes, towns. I have heard the singing of the sirens, and the strains of the shepherds’ pipes; I have touched the wings of comely devils who flew down to converse with me of God. In your books I have flung myself into the bottomless pit, performed miracles, slain, burned towns, preached new religions, conquered whole kingdoms. . . .
“Your books have given me wisdom. All that the unresting thought of man has created in the ages is compressed into a small compass in my brain. I know that I am wiser than all of you.
“And I despise your books, I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, like a mirage. You may be proud, wise, and fine, but death will wipe you off the face of the earth as though you were no more than mice burrowing under the floor, and your posterity, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn or freeze together with the earthly globe.
“You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path. You have taken lies for truth and hideousness for beauty. You would marvel if, owing to strange events of some sort, frogs and lizards suddenly grew on apple and orange trees instead of fruit or if roses began to smell like a sweating horse, so I marvel at you who exchange heaven for earth. I don’t want to understand you.
“To prove to you in action how I despise all that you live by, I renounce the two million of which I once dreamed as of paradise and which now I despise. To deprive myself of the right to the money, I shall go out from here five minutes before the time fixed and so break the compact . . . .”
When the banker had read this, he laid the page on the table, kissed the strange man on the head, and went out of the lodge, weeping. At no other time, even when he had lost heavily on the Stock Exchange, had he felt so great a contempt for himself. When he got home, he lay on his bed, but his tears and emotion kept him for hours from sleeping.
Next morning the watchmen ran in with pale faces and told him they had seen the man who lived in the lodge climb out of the window into the garden, go to the gate, and disappear. The banker went at once with the servants to the lodge and made sure of the flight of his prisoner. To avoid arousing unnecessary talk, he took from the table the writing in which the millions were renounced and, when he got home, locked it up in the fireproof safe.