Nails in the Fence
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same.
“When you say things in anger or jealousy, they leave a scar just like this one, both on you and your victim. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. But it won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound will still be there and when it heals the scar will remain. A verbal wound is even worse than a physical one… Remember that friends are very rare jewels, indeed. They make us smile and encourage us to succeed. They lend an ear, they share words of praise and they always want to open their hearts to us.”
There is nothing wrong in expressing anger, but everything wrong in allowing the angry personality to crystallize. Expressing anger to reprimand someone for some error is one thing, but allowing that anger to linger on and to keep it manifesting in every dealing with others throughout the day is totally different and absolutely wrong. Anyone can become angry, it is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way – this is not easy.
In the spur of the moment we may say something or do something which we will live to regret. It will leave us feeling guilty. We know what we said or what we did was wrong. Others also know that it was wrong and may even point that out. It is difficult to remove this sense of guilt. We can try to shift our attention, look for a scapegoat, a justification. To an extent we can free ourselves from guilt by focusing on something else or confessing about the whole thing; but the guilt will not go completely. Once it is entertained we cannot remove it.
Similarly, we cannot totally remove hurt. Some traces are always left behind. Psychologically or by some other means we can deal with it but the guilt or hurt will remain. Therefore, we have to be extremely careful about what we say or do, so that we do not have any guilt or regrets later.
“One moment of patience may ward off a great disaster; one moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” – Chinese Proverb
“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” – Lady Dorothy Nevil