SAME, SAME BUT DIFFERENT
A Story for the Children of Cambodia – #2
Ratanak had walked down that road 1,000 times before. It always looked the same. He kicked an empty can with his bare foot as he walked along, making dust fly with each kick. A rooster jumped out of his way but clucked at his feet as he passed by.
“Dumb rooster! Stupid road! I don’t like this road!” Ratanak thought. “Mama says this road makes her sad. Well, it makes me sad, too!” he mumbled to himself.
He gave the can a really good kick. It flew up in the air and landed with a thud, right on top of a big pile of garbage. “Ouch!” cried a little voice from somewhere deep in the pile. Ratanak jumped back and stared at the pile of junk. Suddenly, the pile started to move and out popped a little brown monkey! He was rubbing a big bump on his head where the can had landed on him!
“What did you do that for?” he said, looking up at Ratanak. Ratanak bent down so he could see the monkey better. “I don’t like this road. It makes me sad”, he said.
“Why don’t you like this road?” the monkey asked, following behind Ratanak. “It never changes. It’s dusty and there are holes in it and the roosters cluck at me when I go by. It’s always the same.”
“Hmmm” thought the monkey. “Well, you need to change it then”, he said. “How do I do that?” Ratanak asked. “I can’t change the road! It’s always the same.”
“Sure you can!” said the monkey. “Look up! All you ever do is look down. Look up!”
Ratanak slowly lifted his head. Instead of dust and an old rusty can, he saw blue sky. Ratanak had been so busy looking down, he had never noticed how the sunlight made the leaves sparkle in the trees and how the trees shaded him from the hot sun as he walked home each day. He looked further down the road and there was his house and he could see his sister, Jasmine, waiting for him. This road was the way home.
“How do you feel about this road now, Ratanak?” asked the monkey.
“I feel better!” he said. He picked up the monkey and set him on his shoulder and he continued to walk down the road. “You see”, the monkey said, “You can change how you feel about things in your heart simply by thinking about them differently.”
Ratanak knew that from now on, that road would never make him sad again. The little monkey jumped off Ratanak’s shoulder and waved as he ran back down the road to his favorite pile of trash. Ratanak smiled and waved and then ran the rest of the way home, yelling at Jasmine: “Wait until you hear what happened on the way home!”
Note: Ratanak is a popular boy’s name in Cambodia. It means “Treasure”.