Once upon a time in a small mountain village it was the custom for the villagers to strap on their knapsacks each morning, Then, during the day, each time they worried about something or felt depressed about a problem, they would pick up a small pebble and put it in their knapsack. The knapsacks were heavy and a burden to carry because the villagers never emptied them. They carried their burdens every day. It was all they knew.
One day one of the village elders walked down to the river bank. He was bent over from his knapsack full of burdens and noticed one of the small boys from the village skipping pebbles across the water. The boy’s knapsack was empty.
“What are you doing?” the old man asked. “And why is your knapsack empty? Why aren’t you carrying your burdens like the rest of us?”
“I come down to the river bank at the end of the day,” the boy said, “and skip my pebbles across the water until my knapsack is empty.”
The old man was stunned and so bent over from his knapsack so full of burdens that he could hardly move. He had never seen anyone cast their burdens away like that.”
“Would you like to try it?” the boy asked.
The old man was hesitant, yet it seemed like such a good idea. Slowly he reached into his knapsack that was large and heavy from all the burdens he had accumulated over many years. He grabbed a pebble and studied it, recalling the burden of pain that he felt when he had placed it in his knapsack. He was so bent over that it was difficult to cast the burden away and watch it skip across the water and finally disappear, but he somehow did it.
The boy smiled.
The old man smiled also. It was easier than he thought to let go of the burden. Then he tossed another pebble, then another, and another. The boy stayed and watched. They built a fire and the old man’s kept throwing until his knapsack was at last empty. He felt so relieved.
The next day the old man, standing straight and tall, told the other villagers what happened and how good he felt. They could see how happy he was, how he looked and acted like a different person. They were amazed.
At the end of the day all the villagers joined the old man and the small boy and went to the river bank and cast their burdens across the water until their knapsacks were empty. They were amazed at howv relieved and happy they felt. They never continued to hang onto their burdens again.
A sign was erected at the entrance to the village that said, “IT’S HARD TO BE ON TOP OF THE WORLD WHEN YOU’RE CARRYING IT ON YOUR SHOULDERS. LET GO AND LIVE.”