‘Under the Ombu Tree’ by Santa Montefiore
This is a true story about a little boy who lived with his grandparents. His grandpa was a serene and spiritual man who told him wonderful stories. One of the stories he told his grandson was about the ‘Precious Present’. The child was so excited about it and would always ask his grandpa what exactly this present was. The old man told him that he would find out all in good time, but that it was something that would bring him a lasting happiness such as he had never experienced before. Well, the little boy kept his eyes peeled and when he was given a bicycle for his birthday which made him very happy indeed, he thought that this must the ‘Precious Present’ because his grandpa had told him that it would bring lasting happiness.
Well, the little boy grew into a young man and he met a lovely young woman with whom he fell in love. At last, he thought, this is the Precious Present that will bring me lasting happiness. But they fought and grew restless and in the end they went their separate way.
So the young man travelled and saw the world and in every new place he thought that he had at last found true happiness, but he was always looking to the next country, the next beautiful place and found that his happiness never lasted. It was as if he was searching for something unattainable, but searching nonetheless. And this made him very sad. Then, having married again, having had children and finding that he still had not discovered the Precious Present that his grandpa had told him about, he became very disillusioned.
Finally, one day his grandpa died and with him died the secret of the Precious Present – or so the young man thought. He sat down miserably and recalled all the happy moments he had shared with his wise old grandpa. And then it dawned on him, after all those years of searching. What was it about his grandpa that made him so satisfied, so contented and so serene? What was it about him that made you feel like the most important person in the world when you talked to him? Why was it that he created such a peaceful atmosphere around him and passed it on to everyone he met?
The Precious Present was not a present after all in the material sense of the word. It was in fact the here and now, the present. His grandfather had lived in the moment savouring every second. He was not existing in the tomorrow, for why waste your energy on something that might never happen? And he did not dwell in yesterday because yesterday is gone and does not exist anymore. The present is the only reality and in order to attain lasting happiness, one has to learn to live in the here and now and not worry or waste time thinking about anything else.