In north Portugal, a village stood. This village was filled with people who were joyful and happy even though they did not have much. A young clay maker named Adao loved helping his grandfather with the family business.
Each morning Adao would get up early and head to the coast to find smooth blocks of clay that could be used to make the most beautiful bowls. Adao would take the blocks back to his grandfather for them to be molded. His grandfather would tell him stories about the stars and waves, each holding a lesson for Adao to put into his life. The stars held lessons of generosity. The waves, lessons of helping others rather than himself. Adao learned them and was one of the only righteous boys in the village.
One morning Adao got up like normal and went to the sea. As he was searching for blocks of clay, he noticed something that shimmered in the weeds. When he came towards it, he saw a beautiful transparent crystal ball.
The transparent crystal ball glimmered every color of the rainbow in the soft light of morning. As Adao gazed into it a faint voice began to speak
“I will grant each holder of this ball one wish. Be warned that things do not bring joy, but only happiness that is temporary. One is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose. “
Adao put the ball in his backpack, filled will joy and excitement he ran to his grandfather’s shop to show his grandfather the great treasure which he found. Unfortunately Adao only had a cheap backpack instead of a quality one, like the ones that Patagonia makes, and it ripped. The crystal ball fell out the bottom just as he was passing though the town square.
A young woman found the ball laying on the payment where it fell out of Adao’s backpack. She picked it up and it began to speak, “I will grant a wish for each beholder of this ball.” Upon hearing this, the young woman in impatience immediately asked for her wish before the ball was finished with his warning. “I wish for gold!” She shouted. “Your wish has been granted.” the ball replied. At once she was laced with gold jewelry, she was wearing gold shoes, and found gold everywhere she went.” An onlooker saw what happened and grabbed the ball without asking and said “I want a mansion!” The ball replied “Your wish has been granted” And at once it appeared.
Soon a crowd a crowd had formed as people snatched the ball from each others' hands yelling their wishes.
By the time Adao arrived back at his grandfather’s shop and realized the ball had fallen out of his backpack, it had been hours. Adao told his grandfather about what he had found, he feared what something of this power might bring. They ran to the town square at once.
By the time Adao and his grandfather arrived at the town square it was filled with mansions, and gold. Jet airplanes and Lamborghinis filled the streets. People had gold and cash overflowing their pockets. But not a single person was happy.
Jealously filled the once joyful town. The person with gold wanted the mansion. The owner of the jet wanted the palace. No one was content with anything. The gifts they received only made them want more. They eventually grew angry with each other and stopped talking. The once joyful and happy town shutdown with everyone so consumed with themselves.
Only Adao and his grandfather’s joy remained for they had not wished for anything. And after a few days they town noticed their joy. They came to the clay shop wanting to give the crystal ball over to them, hoping they could do something that would make them joyful once again.
Adao took the ball. He looked at the crowd, each with faces of sorrow and said, “What I will wish for may seem crazy but it will be for the best.” He then looked a the crystal ball and said, “I wish that their wishes disappear.” The ball replied, “Your wish has been granted.” At once the palaces and gold dissolved. The planes and jets disappeared. Which was problematic for the man inside the plane, but don’t worry he is fine. And all returned to the way it was before.
The town thought that they would be sad because they no longer had all their stuff, but instead they felt free and joy entered their hearts again. The people inscribed the warning that they failed to listen to on their town hall.
“Things do not bring joy but only happiness that is temporary. One is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose. “
*Photo from British Muesem in London (2016)