Dreams and Pessimism
Now that Covid-19 is easing up for us in this country, people are anxious to get out and about again. People are starting to travel. I have friends who recently had a great week in Hawaii. Others are now going on dream vacations that they had postponed.
I have talked with some about their travel plans. Those conversations, coupled with a news story involving Pope Francis the other day, reminded me again of a little amusing story. I heard it a long time ago.
I may have shared it here in this space years ago, but with memories what they are, and new readers, it bears repeating. There are several variations that I know of, but, of course, I like mine best. It goes like this.
A man was having his hair cut and as he sat in the barber’s chair he announced that he was taking a trip to Europe. The barber immediately questioned why the man would want to waste his money on such a frivolous trip.
The man explained that there were three things that he had always wanted to do in Europe. He had longed to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace in London. He yearned to see DaVinci’s famed “Mona Lisa” painting in the Louve Museum in Paris. And he wanted to see the Pope in person on the balcony in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
The barber sneered and laughed at how naïve he was to think that the trip would be satisfying. He predicted that the crowds at Buckingham Palace would be so huge that he’d be lucky to catch a glimpse of the changing of the guard.
The barber told the man that he was foolish to believe that he would have any kind of a decent look at the “Mona Lisa” painting in Paris with all the people and security. And lastly, he explained that even if he did get to see the Pope, the pontiff would look like a tiny speck in the distance with the throngs of people bunched up in the square.
The man was not to be discouraged. He went on his long dreamed of European trip. Eventually, he returned to his barber. The barber, of course, wanted to hear a report, being certain that his predictions had come true.
The man was overwhelmed with enthusiasm as he told how wonderful the trip had been. It was beyond his wildest dreams. Not only did he have a perfect place to view the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, but the queen herself came by in her carriage. She caught the man’s eye and waved. She had the carriage stop and she shook the man’s hand. She autographed his guide book.
At the Louve, by some inexplicable circumstance, the man was able to view the “Mona Lisa” in solitude, being the only visitor in that particular gallery for about a half hour. He sat in undisturbed contemplation and pondered the portrait with the mysterious smile. It was a dream come true.
At the Vatican, he awaited the pope with thousands of others. The Pope arrived in the “popemobile” and for some strange reason stopped right by the man and invited him into the vehicle. Minutes later they were in the Pope’s private chambers and then they appeared together on the balcony and waved to the crowd in the square below.
The pope then asked the man if he would like a blessing. The man, of course, was elated and knelt down and bowed. The pope placed his hands on the man’s head.
As the barber could see that the man was about to finish his story, he excitedly asked, “What did the pope say to you? What did he say?”
“This is what the pope said to me,” the man slowly replied, “My son – where did you get that terrible haircut?'”
I love that joke – if you want to call it a joke. I believe that there are a few lessons that can be drawn from it.
#1) Don’t rain on someone else’s parade of hope and optimism. Keep your pessimism to yourself. Unless someone is going to do themselves irreparable harm, allow them to pursue their dreams.
#2) Realize that complainers are often not tending to their own work as well as they should. They’re too busy worrying about other people or “raining on someone’s parade” to take care of their own business.
#3) Sometimes dreams come true. And when they do, the “rainers on parades” have to eat crow.
May all your dreams come true. And may all your haircuts be good ones. But remember, the difference between a good haircut and a bad one is only about three weeks. —Merrill
P.S. The news story I referred to, at the top of this piece, involving the pope, was about a Polish woman who met Pope Francis last week. She is one of the last survivors of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. She was in the children’s area of the camp for 3 years. The woman uncovered her arm and showed the pope her tattooed prisoner number. After looking into her eyes, he leaned down and kissed the number.