Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

My experiments in the pursuit of happiness and good habits


Do You Ever Yield to a Temptation Out of Concern for Someone Else?

January 23rd, 2015

Episode 24 of 372 episodes

I love all fables, paradoxes, koans, teaching stories, and aphorisms. That’s one reason I love to keep my Secrets of Adulthood – my own contribution. For this reason, when I was last wandering through the library, I couldn’t resist pulling out William March’s book, 99 Fables. And I was particularly struck by Fable #4, “The Persimmon Tree,” about a loophole-invoking possum. In the fable, a possum looks longingly at the delicious persimmons hanging from the fox’s tree, and thinks about how badly he wants one. “’No,’ he said. ‘The fox is my friend and benefactor, and he trusts me. Oh, no!’” Several days later, he stares again at the persimmon tree, where the fruits had reached their finest flavor. His mouth waters, but he turns away and goes home. There, he sees his wife, who says, “’What a morning this would be for eating persimmons! When I think how sweet they are…I could break down and cry my eyes out.’” The possum says, “’That settles it. I’ll take those persimmons if it’s the last thing I ever do…Why, what sort of a creature would I be if I deprived my sweet, faithful wife of persimmons—endangering her health and ...

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