Story: A Prisoner, 20 years and a Wheel
Many years ago, I heard this story from a professor when I was a student at Carnegie Mellon. A man was sentenced to 20 years in prison. During his time in prison, he was asked to turn a wheel every day. So, every day he turned the wheel. At times, when he was tired or puzzled and stopped turning the wheel, he would be flogged with a whip. The man did not know anything about the wheel other than that it was placed outside his jail somewhere. He wondered if the wheel crushed corn or if it ground wheat or something similar. He wondered if turning the wheel was useful to anyone. At the end of his jail term, he rushed out to see what the wheel was doing. To his disappointment, he found that the wheel was not connected to anything. All these years, he had been toiling for nothing. He gave a loud, frustrated shout and dropped dead.
How many of us are turning wheels wondering what it is connected to? How many of us have unstated, uncaring attitudes towards our careers? How many of us view work as drudgery, as no more than a way to earn that next paycheck? How many of us have wondered about the spiritually uplifting aspect of work?
Can a workforce that views work as merely a chore, be ethical? Can it produce true life-enhancing technology? Can it make positive contributions to the quality of life of a society? I think not.
Thanks to Pinal and you, his readers, for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts in a series of guest posts. I’d like to present a few ways over the next few weeks, in which we can tap into the liberating potential of work and make our lives better in the process.
Now, please allow me to tell you another version of the story that the good professor shared with us in the classroom that day.
Story: A Prisoner, 20 years, a Wheel and the LIFE
A man was sentenced to 20 years in prison. During his time in prison, he was asked to turn a wheel every day. So, every day he turned the wheel. At first, his whole body and mind rebelled against his predicament. So, his limbs grew weary and his mind became numb and confused. And then, his self-awareness began to grow. He began to wonder how he came to be in prison in the first place. He looked around and saw all his fellow prisoners also turning the wheel. His wife, his parents, his friends, and his children – they were all in the prison too, and turning their own wheels! He began to wonder how this came about. As he wondered more and more, he began to focus less on his physical drudgery and boredom. And he began to clearly see his inner spirit which guided him in ways that allowed him to see the world with a universal view. His inner spirit guided him towards the source of eternal wisdom and happiness. He began to see the source of happiness in everything around him – his prison-bound relationships, even his jailers and in his wheel. He became a source of light to those around him. His wheel jokes and humor infected them with joy and happiness. Finally, the day came for his release from jail. He walked calmly outside the jail and laughed aloud when he saw that the wheel was not connected to anything. He knelt down, kissed it and thanked it for the wisdom it taught him.
Life is a prison. The wheel is your work. Both are sacred. Both have enormous powers to teach us wisdom and bring us happiness. Whether we allow them to do so, is a choice we have to make.
Over the next few weeks, I hope to share with you a few lessons that I have learned at the wheel in my two decades of my career. Thank you for reading, and do let me know what you think.
Reference: Pinal Dave (https://blog.sqlauthority.com)
Awesome story, look forward to reading more, thanks.
Interseting article srini and thanks to pinal
A real enlightening post from Srini. Thank you Pinal for giving a space for this thought provoking blog.
Nice article. Thanks for sharing
Most inspiring post ever to begin the day. Thanks Pinal and Srini. cheers
Thanks for sharing… It is very interesting,Looking forward to find some more for the same..
This is truely said. Really inspring thought to a frustrated soul of today. I have one small question. If the oher persons are not as optimistic as him, not as enlightened as the man himself, then what the man is going to do ?
Thanks a lot for posting, after reading this story gives me some directions for my life and it shows how to see the world
Hi Shyamaprasad, I think that our duty is first and foremost to examine ourselves so we can move forward in our journeys. Frankly, we cannot change others. Everyone has the freedom to make their own mistakes in their lives and progress along the paths they choose to take. Who is to say what’s wrong? :-)
Thank you for the words of wisdom, today I needed to hear that while my prison (career) and wheel (work) sometimes seem endlessly pointless, I can change the perspective any time.
Thanks Srini. You right. We should move forward with the call of duty.
I really needed this , thanks Penal and Srini.
I feel it all depends on your attitude towards your work. If you look at work, as only a source of living, it will become a burden. In our days (Iam +75), we worked and I can confidently say that the job satisfaction was much more rewarding than the pay packet. It is, I feel almost similar to the second story.