I had met the man in the fall of 2009. He had invited me to his palatial home in the suburbs of Lagos, Nigeria, for a twenty four- hour intensive coaching on lifestyle modification strategies for coping with the stress that was incident to his inordinately busy itinerary as a globe-trotting businessman. For the usual reasons of confidentiality, I will call him Mr. Femi Williams. Quite out of the blue, I got an unexpected call from him a month ago.
“Hello, doctor, this is Femi Williams. How have you been?”
“I’m in top form, Mr. Williams. Life couldn’t be better. How nice to hear from you again. I hope all is well with you.”
“All is indeed well with me, doctor. I will be fifty-eight on Saturday, and I’ll be hosting a small, discreet dinner party for about thirty friends and business associates of mine. I’d be greatly honored if you would attend.” Then he paused uncertainly. “The only problem is: the party will be holding at my Dubai home in the United Arab Emirates.”
“Dubai!” I exclaimed in reflex.
But I quickly got my wits back together, reminding myself, whimsically, that Dubai was only eight hours away by air! In any case, my weekend would be relatively free, and another stimulating encounter with the man did not seem totally unattractive. Besides, I wasn’t averse to the occasional high-brow dinner event.
“Mr. Williams, I’d be honored to be your guest.”
“Splendid! The honor is indeed mine. My plane will be at Abuja Airport at nine a.m. on Friday to pick up three of my guests. I’d like you to join them. That way, you will arrive in Dubai early enough for you to have sufficient rest before the party in the evening.”
“That arrangement is entirely to my satisfaction, Mr. Williams. See you on Saturday.”
I was now faced with a dilemma. What birthday gift would I give my eminent client? Just what kind of gift do you give a man who evidently has everything? What could possibly excite a man as wealthy as this? I agonized over this the entire day, and then I had a sudden flash of insight! I knew just the thing. I relaxed.
Williams’ massive and stately ballroom was alive with gay laughter and sophisticated banter. It was a motley crowd of men and women of immense political and economic clout, from all over the world, that gathered in that lounge that night. In one corner, I spotted Alwaleed ibn Talal, the consummate investor- prince from Saudi Arabia, also said to be the seventh richest man on earth, in earnest conversation with Britain’s Lord David Owen.
Sometime during the party, Williams got up to make an informal speech, thanking his eminent guests for taking the trouble to attend. He concluded by looking pointedly at me and saying, “Doctor, all the people gathered in this room are close friends and associates of mine, and like me, certainly until I met you, the seemingly happy and confident fronts they present are a mere façade covering lives of quiet desperation, and business and political turmoil of all shades. Would you kindly, in a few short sentences, give them a message of hope? Tell them how they can cope with the stress that is incident to their larger-than life images. What stress-relieving formula can you teach these good people?”
I was thrown entirely off-balance. I hardly expected to be confronted with the prospect of even the shortest presentation. But all eyes were now on me. And then the idea hit me like a bolt of lightning. I would kill two birds with one stone. I would present my gift to Williams, and then tell the story behind the gift, for the benefit of his guests.
Two thousand years ago, there lived a great Emperor of China. His name was Liu Bang Chew. He ruled over an empire that spread across most of what is now Asia, extending into Northern Europe. He had ruled for forty years and was now about to celebrate his sixtieth birthday anniversary. It was going to be a great event and preparations for it commenced a whole year before the event itself. The gifts and presents started rolling in. Governors of the provinces, noblemen, merchants, and even peasant farmers tried to out-do each other, bringing in horses, camels and big bales of raw silk and cotton, spices, perfumes and food. The sheer quantities of these gift items were so vast that that the Prime Minister had to designate and empty an entire city to accommodate the gifts. The Emperor, however, was not impressed with the gifts. They were all, in his Imperial perception, too common place.
It was in the midst of all this activity that a simple peasant arrived at the city gates of Peking one bright, sunny day. He was dressed in a simple, white robe and strap sandals. He had travelled on foot for six months from the far, northern reaches of the empire. At the gates of the palace, he demanded to see the Emperor, the most ridiculous and laughable request a peasant could ever make. After persisting at the palace gates for a whole month, the commander of the Imperial Guard finally granted him entry into the palace. He was taken to the Imperial Court, where the Emperor sat on his throne, surrounded by the Empress, Princes, the Prime Minister and about two hundred courtiers and noble men. He fell flat in prostration before the great monarch.
“O great Emperor, I bring you birthday felicitations and a gift!”
“Your gift had better be an improvement on what I’ve already received or else I shall decree that your head be separated from the rest of your body!” The Emperor replied gravely.
At this point, the peasant, whose name was Chouli, reached into his robe and fished out a simple bronze bracelet, which he handed over to the Emperor, reverently. The Emperor gazed at it intently in amazement. He turned it over in his hands, thinking to himself, “What infernal foolishness is this?” On closer inspection, he could see there was an inscription on the bracelet. It read: THIS TOO SHALL PASS. He passed it round to the Empress and the noble men, who, one after the other read the inscription. Finally, and looking visibly angry, he turned to Chouli.
“Peasant, what sort of ridiculous gift is this?”
Chouli solemnly looked at the Emperor and said, “Great Emperor, it is as it says on the bracelet, which I want you to wear from now until your last day. Indeed, everything shall pass. Your days as Emperor shall pass. Your difficulties, and your times of joy, shall pass. No matter the harrowing, or terrible experience you may be subjected to, it will surely pass, for there is always light at the end of every dark tunnel. Conversely, no matter the pleasurable experience you may have, it shall pass. Allow this profound statement to be a consoling factor in every facet of your life. This will allow you to laugh at your world, and at yourself and your petty misgivings and errors. You will then come into the sublime realization that nothing is of any real importance, and that circumstances can have only the importance you choose to attach to them. It is also at this point that you will start to come into knowledge of the pure magic of life, and that, ultimately, everything always works out for the best. Fear, as you used to know it, will start to leave you, since in your knowledge that all things shall pass, your challenges will become merely that-surmountable challenges, and they will no longer traumatize you.”
He paused, as all attention remained riveted on him, and then continued speaking.
“You are greater than your so-called failures, and even your successes. You could be sad today and happy tomorrow. You could be happy today and sad the next day. All emotions will pass to give way for others. Only one thing will not pass: the eternal presence of the Almighty, your Creator, and the perfection of His creation.”
At the conclusion of this powerful rendition, the Emperor rose from his throne, and pulling Chouli to his feet, embraced him warmly. He turned to his noblemen and said, “Surely, this must be the wisest man in all of China!”
Later that day, Chouli was appointed GRAND COUNSELLOR OF CHINA. And that was how a lowly peasant farmer became the third most important dignitary in all China.

I had come to the end of my story. I paused and turned to Femi Williams, bringing out a silver bracelet from my pocket.
“Mr. Williams, while wishing you a very happy birthday, permit me to present you with this bracelet, with the same inscription- THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Anytime you look at it, the knowledge of the transience of all trial, all joy, and all physical existence will accord you the privilege of living a more tranquil life. Here’s wishing you a stress-free rest of your life.”
A fortnight later, I received this e-mail from him:
Doctor, words cannot adequately express my profound gratitude for your unique gift. What an imaginative gift! What a profoundly-thought provoking gift! In less than a fortnight, I now know just how significantly those words have impacted on my life. Surely, my life will never be the same again. That statement resonates with the truth the sages have always taught- In the final analysis, all shall pass away except the Almighty. Bless you.
Femi Williams.

Author's Bio: 

DR YOMI GARNETT is an accomplished writer and speaker, with special bias for the field of STRESS MANAGEMENT and WISDOM ACQUISITION.He is Author of the Bestseller, 365 DAYS OF WISDOM-A Daily Companion For The Soul In Search Of Enlightenment.