Life and Its Legs

“So now you have a farm, two houses, and four cars, correct?” asked Marcelo.

Ivan nodded.

“Well done!” Marcelo smiled amicably to his old friend. “And what else have you got? A master’s degree from Universidad de Chile, a good and stable job, and what else? Money, ah, how much money have you got? More than a hundred million pesos, I suppose?”

Ivan did not reply, but his smile meant a “yes” to all of the questions.

“And with all of these in your hands, you’re still the first to arrive at work and the last to leave, aren’t you?”

For the second time, Ivan nodded.

“For how long?”

“Three years and a half.”

“Oh, poor Ivan Espinoza,” Marcelo sighed. For a moment he stopped talking. The conversation that previously was filled with laughter and jokes suddenly turned itself into a deep silence. Marcelo gazed over Ivan and tapped his right shoulder tenderly. An air of confidence was transpired from the light of his eyes, despite his graying eyebrow. “My friend, did you see that table?”

“Yes,” Ivan glanced to a table next to them.

“How many legs?”


“If you break one of the table’s legs, will you have a balanced table?”


“So is life. It’s got four legs: education, money, a job you love, and a family you adore. If you break one of life’s legs, you will have an imbalanced life,” remarked Marcelo. Sighing, the man paused for a little while before continuing. “Now you have a good job, money, and proper education, but you don’t see your children except when they are asleep before and after work. Is that a balanced life? You work for your family, don’t you?”


“So why do you work so hard but spend less time with them?”




#PS: This is a true story of a student of mine, Ivan Espinoza

69 thoughts on “Life and Its Legs

  1. Pingback: Thank You, Beautiful Stranger! :-) « Subhan Zein

    • Hello, thank you, my lovely friend! I’m glad you enjoyed it! And thank you for dropping by; your presence here is merrily celebrated.. 🙂

      Subhan Zein

    • Thank you, my lovely friend! I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 And thank you for dropping by; your presence here is merrily celebrated.. 🙂

      Subhan Zein

    • Thank you, Seon! Hope you will enjoy my other stories too: “Pham and Her Gold Fish” and “Emilio and His Axe”.. Have a great day, my friend! 🙂

      Subhan Zein

  2. Dear friend, Mas Subhan….

    I agree that life has legs, but I would question the number and specifications of the legs. Saying that life has 4 legs is a contextual statement. It is applicable for one person, but not necessary for others.

    Before I get too serious, I’d better stop here 🙂

    • Hi Mas Albard,

      You’re right, it’s very contextualized. This is a true story of a student of mine, and I’d say that Marcelo’s aphorism was contextually conveyed to match the life of his old friend, Ivan. If Marcelo had talked to you then he would have given you the same parable with a totally different context.. 🙂

      Subhan Zein

  3. this is a good awakening call and reminder. Ambition can blind people and in the end make them very unhappy… i know it too well from my very own father who died at 58 even before he was able to savour the fruits of his work and enjoy his “lifetime” pension. Well said xx

    • Thank you, Yamyah. Apparently the parable works for everyone of us. It is also a reminder for myself.

      I wish your father Rest in Peace. I also wish you a happy, prosperous and balanced life, love. Have a wonderful day! 🙂

      Subhan Zein

  4. The richness of life does not come from money, a fancy house, or a lucrative career. The truly rich person has a little one’s arm around their neck saying “I love you Daddy (Mommy)”. That is the treasure of life. Well done my friend!!

    And I love your new blog design too! xoxo

    • You are truly right! I am still waiting for that moment to comes, Jeannie: to have a wonderful wife and lovely children and to have my children saying that to me. Haha! 🙂

      But anyway, the day will come, yes, the day will come. I’m sure you’ve had plenty of those moments yourself, my friend! 🙂

      Subhan Zein

  5. Many years ago, while studying Aristotle’s writings, I read that he was always looking for “The Golden Mean.” That was another way of saying the balanced life. I suppose it was always a problem to have and keep the balance.

    Timing is crucial, too. If there’s an exciting and new project you’re involved in you tend to go in that direction primarily while it is new and exciting. Then if there’s a special event in the family the family takes the balance to their side for a while. So I don’t think balance is a stable commodity: it shifts.


    • I suppose you are right, Ronnie. Yes, finding the balance also means shifting directions and being flexible towards accomplishing your goals and maintaining your pace. Thank you for insightful ideas. It truly does illuminating! 🙂

      Thank you my lovely friend and have a wonderful evening! 🙂

      Subhan Zein

  6. I love the new theme, i often read and quote William Ward’s wise words, I started reading your blog because of his quote there on the top 🙂 The new theme makes it more prominent!

    • Thank you, Cik Eric! Certainly you’re not one of them because I mean your son and his achievement are exemplary! 🙂

      Have a lovely day, Cik! 🙂

      Subhan Zein

  7. It’s life hardest point; we work to provide our beloved with a proper living yet we forgot that a moment of peace spent with them is worth giving them a full bank account…

  8. Good to hear from you again Subhan, nice to have you back with another eloquent and wise tale. Nicely written, great use of table analogy =) Take care, Que

  9. Wonderful message conveyed. Yes, at least we need that four legs to have a stable life. The stronger of them, the stronger our lives will be.
    Thanks Bung Subhan. Inspiring.

  10. Oh Lovely specially the way four legs have been described…so true people often end up neglecting the same people they are working so hard for….take out time to live
    wonderful story 🙂

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