Meandering / Meaning

Meandering Monday about Random Acts of…

There was a story in an old reader that I remember (even though it was over fifty years ago, I remember it – maybe because I had to read part of the story out loud in class and pronounced “magician” as “magi-Key-an”; yes, public humiliation is also a good memory trick.)

The story was about two brothers who had farms, one of them poor (Peter), and one rich (Rich). An old man (the magician) comes by the rich brother’s farm and asks for food and a place to stay for the night, but the Rich sends him away. The magician winds up at the Peter’s farm, and in the morning the farmer takes out his money box to give the magician some coin for the road, and his wife gives him food from their larder as well. The magician thanks them and says that “whatever you choose to do at the start of the day, you will do until the sun sets.” The magician goes on his way, but the couple laugh at the silly old man while the wife puts away their food and the farmer his money, and of course, they keep doing this until the sun sets, and they are now incredibly rich.

The other brother – Rich – hears of this, kicks himself for his mistake in sending the old beggar away, and practically drags the magician into his home the next time he’s comes by. Next morning, he and his wife give the magician money and food, and before he goes on his way, the magician says, “whatever you choose to do at the start of the day, you will do until the sun sets”, and then he leaves. The couple sit there trying to decide what the best way to take advantage of the magic would be, until the cows are lowing to be milked, so they figure they’ll decide later, and Rich goes out and starts milking the cows, and his wife goes to pour water in the trough for their livestock, and they do this all day, flooding out and destroying their property.

“Random Acts of Kindness”; I don’t remember who coined this phrase, or how long ago it became a THING, but it revolved around the notion of just doing something nice for others – not because it was a special occasion or for any other reason than that it might brighten someone’s day, and mostly that someone should be someone you didn’t know – at least not well – a stranger, possibly. Paying for the people behind you at Starbucks would be an example.

We also have Random Acts of Violence, such as when a man in the Bronx was sucker-punched by a thug, for no apparent reason (the thug returns while the man lays unconscious in the street and takes a picture. Glad they found and arrested that…)

The phrase RANDOM ACT in both of these cases is a misnomer. Sure, the recipient appears to be RANDOM, but what happens to that person is not just something out of the blue, like a bolt of lightning; the ACT is a CHOICE. The perpetrators of the kindness or violence CHOSE to do so.

There are some things that truly are random and seem to happen on their own (some call these ACTS OF GOD, but if they truly are, then are they random?), and even these offer us an opportunity to make choices. The purpose of life is to decide – with that free will we are all given – just how we are going to respond to the cards we’ve been dealt. We’re judged not by what we’re given, but by the choices we make.

Choose wisely. Just saying…


I am participating in “Smashword’s Summer/Winter Sale.” All my story collections (including Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire and Detective Jimmy Delaney) are available with a 50%-off coupon on the Smashwords site. You can find them all here:


CollectionTheLast3CoverWilliam Mangieri’s writing – including his most recent collection The Last Three ‘Things I Could Get Out of My Mind’  – can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords:
• His Amazon Author page:
• Barnes & Noble:
• Createspace (if you prefer physical books):
• His site on WordPress:
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:
• His Goodreads author page:
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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