That was, of course, a very foolish way to look at it, but that is the way a great many people look at things. This is what is called covetousness. Covetous people always want something they have not, and so they are usually unhappy.
The way to be happy is to think of the things you have, and not of the things you have not. A man was once told that Caesar was going to cause him great unhappiness, and he replied that if Caesar could blot out the sun with a blanket he might make him unhappy. But if he had the sun to shine upon him, he would still be happy. We all have the sun to shine upon us, and other things a-plenty to be happy over, if we will just count them up. Let us not be like the little boy crying about the nickel he did not have.
Boys and girls in ancient Greece believed that there were three fates, in the form of three women seated above the clouds, who spun the thread of everyone’s life, and cut it off with shears when death came.
We no longer believe in such things, but we still speak of fate. Boys and girls sometimes say that they are fated to fail in examinations, and so think they cannot help failing. But that is no more true than the belief about the three women which the Grecian boys and girls held. As a matter of fact, nothing outside of us makes evil things happen to us. We make our own fates. Or shall I say, we are our own fates? Someone has said, “Our fates lie asleep along the roadside until we waken them.” That is very true, as I think I can show you by a story.
Not long ago I was riding on a train up through Vermont. A boy came into the car selling papers, books, candy, fruit, and other things. There was a boy opposite me in the smoking-car who wanted to appear very smart and manly. He was smoking a cigar and looking very much traveled. The trainboy offered him a book which had a bad title and worse pictures in it. But in front of this young chap sat two bright-faced, innocent-looking boys who did not pretend to be anything but what they were. The trainboy offered them salted peanuts. In front of those boys sat a fine, clean-looking, well-bred man. The trainboy offered him a good, wholesome book.
Now, three fates were in that car in the form of that trainboy, and each person invited his own kind of fate by what he was in himself. That is true all through life. Be true, and you attract truth. Be evil, and you attract evil. Your fate is what you are.
Out in the state of California there is a great valley known as the Yosemite Valley, and here once lived a tribe of Indians who tried to explain how the wonderful streams and trees and rocks came to be.