Life has its own rhythms. There are creatively fruitful times, where the inspiration flows; there are times where I feel jaded and uninspired. There doesn’t always seem to be any reason for the transition. Sometimes, it’s just suddenly different. A couple of weeks ago, I had ideas. This week, I don’t have any, and the ones I had a couple of weeks ago sit there on my desk like paperweights. What to do when it feels like you’ll never have a good idea again?
One thing I’ve found helpful is this apocryphal story. It exists in many forms throughout the world, but this is one version:
Benaiah Ben Yehoyada was King Solomon’s most trusted advisor, but the King thought he needed a lesson in humility, so he set him an impossible task. He asked Benaiah to find him a specific ring in time for Sukkot, which was six months away.
“The ring I’ve heard of,” said Solomon, “has magical powers. A happy man who looks at it becomes sad, while a sad man becomes happy. Find me this ring.”
Benaiah left to search for the ring but could not find it, for no such ring existed. The day before Sukkot he wandered through a poor district in Jerusalem, distraught. He passed a jewellers shop, and in desperation went in to ask the jeweller if he had ever heard of such a ring. The jeweller smiles, produces a plain gold band and engraves something on it. He then passes it to Benaiah, who reads the inscription and smiles.
The following day, Benaiah presented the ring to his King, and when Solomon read the inscription it was he that was humbled.
The Hebrew inscription read gam zeh ya’avor, which means ‘This too shall pass’.