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Inspirational Story: The Rich Merchant in a Tsunami

by Evelyn on November 16, 2010

A coastal village received an advanced tsunami warning. The siren sent warning sounds throughout the village. Everyone was thrown into a panic from making sure that they have their loved ones with them before fleeing. The richest villager who was a merchant was also on his way to higher ground, having gathered his family and some basic belongings.

inspirational story - the rich merchant

However, while fleeing, he found himself thinking about the possessions he had left behind. Eventually, he could not stand the thought of not bringing more money with him. “It sure wouldn’t feel good to have to start from scratch once again,” the merchant muttered to himself at the thought of what would happen after the flood. In a flash, he recalled with a grimace about how hard he had to work for his trade. He remembered that his work had not only brought him great wealth but respect from his fellow villagers.

The merchant decided to turn back. “Maybe, just maybe, there will be enough time to pack a thousand gold coins,” he thought. His wife and four children tried to dissuade him, thinking that he was mad to consider going back. He tried to assure them that he will be fine and that he will catch up with them soon enough. The merchant started to retrace his steps hurriedly. On the return journey back to his home, his friends – who were all running uphill – shouted to him, “Don’t be foolish! You need to flee now!”

Determined to get his gold coins, the merchant ignored all the warnings. He was lucky. He managed to reach his house safely. He ran to his room and took out the hidden tin box from under the bed. Even though he could tell by the weight of the tin box that it contained something heavy, he decided to open the box just to make sure; nonetheless. It was tightly sealed. He managed to pry it open after a few attempts. The sight of the gleaming gold coins made him extremely happy.

As the merchant was about to leave his house with his gold coins, he thought that it would be nice to also bring along the valuable statue displayed in his living room. So, once more, he delayed his decision to flee. He found a sack to carry his worldly possessions. From one item to the next, he started to pack, so much so that he lost track of time and the coming flood.

Needless to say, the merchant did not make it alive. Just before he drowned, he noted with much regret that he would not be able to see his beloved family again. The flood washed away his home. His sack of treasures is still lost somewhere in the open sea.

Story Message

The message from “The Rich Merchant in a Tsunami” is about not losing our sanity over material things. Losing our sanity happens when we are overly attached to our possessions. On the other hand, if we have an abundance mindset, we would not be having strong attachments to material things. We would know that we have every ability to create work from our rich ideas. Having money does not equate to true wealth but most certainly, having an abundance of ideas does.

The above story is a small peek into the content of my coming book. My book contains short creative stories as well as some well known fables to illustrate learning lessons for us. I like the idea of sharing stories for an understanding of life. What about you? Do you enjoy reading and learning from stories too?

Abundance always,

evelyn lim signature

P.S. Artist contribution: Drawing done by Min, the 8-year old art genius in my family. Even though she was dismayed that the story I wrote did not have a happy ending, she was nevertheless delighted to oblige with a picture contribution. Enjoy!!

Above story is copyrighted. Permission is to be sought from author for reprint if desired.

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Ian L. Hannaford November 16, 2010 at 7:04 pm

A Lovely Story. Having visited Phuket just after the Tsunami seen where so many died and survived it brought goosebumps just reading it Evelyn.

Evelyn Reply:

Hmmm…I wish to apologize if it brought back some sad memories for you. I recall going to Phuket myself to visit the tsunami area two years ago. We were there for a meditation retreat as well as delivering donations to an orphanage built in its aftermath.


Suzie Cheel November 16, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Wow your book will be wonderful to read, you are such a wonderful story teller and how true is your story- just one more thing……it is a wonderful reflection on what is truly important.
The drawing is beautiful too, such talent

Evelyn Reply:

Hello Suzie,

I’m glad to know that you like the story. My daughter will be happy to hear your feedback too. Thanks for what you’ve pointed out about my story too :-)

With love,

The Vizier November 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Hi Evelyn,

That is a nice and simple story that illustrates the dangers of attachment to possessions. If we cling to material possessions, thinking that they will make us feel whole, we could end up losing important people in our lives.

I love reading stories. I like the epic kind that you find in history. I also like the many teaching stories that are told to provide guidance to others. Stories help to illustrate points in ways that resonate more deeply with readers. They make complicated points easier to grasp and entertain people as well. I believe we can learn from all kind of stories if we are willing to. I cannot help but admire the professional storytellers who earn a living by telling stories. They are truly masters of their crafts.

Thanks for sharing this article!

Evelyn Reply:

Hi there,

I would have guessed that you would like the epic kind :-) Yes, professional storytellers have a gift in sharing messages through the tales they tell. It would be nice to learn from them the finer art of doing so.

Thank you for your feedback,

Sara November 17, 2010 at 12:46 am

Evelyn — I love learning from stories and this one has an excellent message. I automatically started thinking about the possessions I’m hanging on to and why!

I have slowly been been cleaning out my house, which has accumulated possessions for over thirty years now and I need to let go of many of these. It is hard to decide. But, I don’t want to be like this merchant and let my possessions become more important than living and enjoying a “lighter” life.

Thanks for this post and I look forward to your book:~)

Evelyn Reply:

Hello Sara,

Thank you for your positive feedback. I’m glad to know that the message resonated well with you.

Now that you’ve reminded me, I am also in need of another house cleaning exercise. It’s amazing how much junk one can accumulate in a short space of time. I don’t keep a lot of stuff….at least I don’t believe I do…but I think there’s more I can do with decluttering and feeling lighter.

Abundance always,

nanty°! November 17, 2010 at 5:36 am

Thanks Evelyn for all your e-mails, i love to read and think about my dreams, think about everything is possible, it´s all about how much you want to get, i mean, it maybe be difficult but, at the end, you have peace and a big smile =)
thanks a lot, GOD BLESS U  :)

Evelyn Reply:

Yes, yes, yes! I’m glad you said that “it may be difficult but at the end, you have peace and a big smile”. Now, how many of us needs to be reminded to enjoy the journey?

God bless you too :-)

Abundance always,

Michelle Indrizzo November 17, 2010 at 7:51 am

Thank you for sharing this story.

Evelyn Reply:

Hello Michelle,

You are most welcome :-)

With love,

Arlene Tangapa November 17, 2010 at 9:31 am

Nice post.Am looking forward to buying your book related to this. will it be available in the Philippines?What’s the title?More power and keep up the good work!

Arlene Tangapa

Evelyn Reply:

Hi Arlene,

I don’t have the final exact details yet about my book. Even whilst I do what is necessary to my best ability, my thoughts are that the book will be published in perfect timing and in the format as it is needed. All I know is that it shouldn’t be too long a wait :-)

With love,

matt November 17, 2010 at 11:44 am

nice story. personally the message i got from the story was to diversify your investments and wealth so that u can leave some behind but still have more money somewere else

Evelyn Reply:

Hmmmm…interesting perspective about diversification. I wasn’t thinking about that when I wrote this story. However, I must say that you have a valid point at least in the context of current economic times. Like many others who are keen to grow their investment portfolio, I certainly do believe in some level of diversification overseas with our excess funds.

Abundance always,

Mel Clifford November 17, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Hi Evelyn
Firstly beautiful drawing by Min. I have always thought that anything that can be replaced by money is not worth replacing. Our value is in ourselves and what we bring to each other in our relationships with family and friends.

This has no monitory value as it is priceless

Evelyn Reply:

Hi Mel,

I enjoyed your perspective that “anything that can be replaced by money is not worth replacing”. Hankering after money alone is going to put us in misery for sure. Values like love, peace and harmony can never be replaced.

Abundance always,

Liara Covert November 17, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Evelyn, your blog evokes such joy. Love how you invite readers to awaken to the silver lining in every circumstance, to the nature of their beliefs. How easy it is to peel away imagined negativity and misperception. Blessings and self-empowering revelations are always accessible to those who choose them.

KRISHNA PAUL November 17, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Thanks Evelyn …..
Many souls find this a hard lesson to embrace.
Am almost ready to begin illustrationd on my book to do with the elementals and the current state of the planetry environmental challenges we are facing.
Again thank you for your insightfull story.
Krishna paul

Keith November 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Hello Evelyn,

Great story that illustrates the result of allowing ourselves to become attached to material things. It kills us. If not physically, it can still kill us emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Nothing wrong with having stuff, as long as we understand that our happiness and meaning comes from within, not without. =)

Thanks Evelyn!

Hilary November 18, 2010 at 12:25 am

Hi Evelyn .. what a picture .. and then the tale .. you do write well & I’m certain the book will be a success .. the simpler the way a story is told – the more it is etched into our minds ..

Thanks – the Phuket Tsunami .. was just dreadful .. for everyone .. Hilary

Lance November 18, 2010 at 1:25 am

Beautiful artists together…you and your daughter!!

Wishing you much success in your book – and know that I very much enjoyed reading this story, and the ensuing lesson from it.


Much love,

Alien Ghost November 18, 2010 at 1:27 am

Hi Evelyn,

Nice, simple story to tell such truth. We all tend to become attached to material possessions, even if we still give more importance to family. It is really needed a change in mentality in modern society.

I like the story and the drawing :)


Farnoosh November 18, 2010 at 2:26 am

Evelyn, I love stories – and this one reminds me of the conversation we have at home – if heavens forbid we have to leave the house in a hurry – I tell Andy how many things I need to grab first and he looks at me as though I am crazy because he thinks nothing can be even worth considering when we have our lives to hold on to…..he’d love your story and I sympathize with the poor – rich – merchant…..good story!!

Boris November 18, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Dear Evelyn,
Great message delivered through a very pleasing story. Thanks!
- I am preparing a section of my blog that will be focused on Doing what you love. Would you mind to be interviewed for that section of my Blog? I am sure that you do what you love when blogging, but there is a lot that we could share with the readers.
All the best,

Ms Lorain December 20, 2010 at 8:38 am

I was sadden that this story has such a disasterous ending. However, I can’t help but feel there is a missed message here.

Sure, it’s important to move out of a dangerous situation. But what is true is that we all work to gain the meager possessions we have. It’s what we do every day. Shop for this, look forward to acquiring this or that.

The story made me feel that the reason the man perished is because he went back for this things. It’s hard work acquiring the few possessions we have, and starting fresh isn’t some kind of dream come true.

Twice my family and I have been homeless due to fires cause by other people. Digging thru the rubble to find what the fires had not destroyed to restart our lives with is something I can only describe as a night mare.

And you can bet I’m mad as heck, because it happened more than once. To go along with that some one stole my old car, within months, some one crashed and totaled my new one. Lost my full time job, lost health insurance, lost so much and seems it don’t stop.

I’m grateful to have my life, my kids and my pets that made it through, but just like in your story, life is meaningless unless you have material possesions that add quality to life.

The man went back to get what he felt enhanced the quality of his life.

And believe me as I catch the bus, having to deal with all kinds of people and personalities, I miss my cars, I miss things that can’t be replaced.

What is the sense of having abundance thinking when after having acquired abundance you are left with emptyness?

Your story seem to morally penalize the man for his decision to go back for those things that helped him have a more abundant life.

However far you have come in this life, what ever you have acquired, be it your family, your home, your car, your career, your job, if you lose it all today……tell me would your abundant thinking kick in or will you feel that life has given you a false sense of security and a swift kick in the pants?

Right now for me, I lost my full time job, lost my cars, lost my benefits and a right smart amount of my savings due to reduced income, and so I’m not really feeling like abundance thinking is the answer, for the things we acquire are fleeting. Now with my waiting to see if I can get an extension on my unemployment, my future is uncertain.

From where I see it, I’m inclined to follow the scriptures in Matthew 6:19-24 verses where we are directed to “store up our treasures in heaven”.

Maybe that is a much better message with a better outcome and an ending we all can live with.

Evelyn Reply:

Hello Ms Lorain,

Thank you for sharing your views. I am sorry to learn that things have been unfortunate for you. I cannot imagine having to go through being homeless twice due to fires caused by others. And it is perfectly understandable to long for the things that we appear to have lost. I probably would have felt disappointed for not being able to save more of my possessions.

I wish to apologize for not being clear in my story. I am guessing that there is some misunderstanding when I read your comment. I had assumed that my readers would read it in the context of my entire site or book and not just a single post. May I also take the opportunity to summarize what this site is about. We all long for abundance. We all have desires. We all have dreams. There is absolutely nothing wrong in wanting to lead a fulfilled life, which in many situations need some amount of money to begin with. So let’s acknowledge that. (And perhaps you can see that up to this point, we are really having the same views. )

However, problems surface when we start to crave. We start to worry, feel scared and feel frustrated at our slow progress. We are unhappy even while we try to reach for our goals. Yet, these emotions do not help us in coming into the abundance that we deserve. But many of us admit to allowing these emotions take control over us.

We forget that there are other things in life that we are already blessed with. We lose sight that every moment can begin anew. At crucial points in a disaster, we may even not take a wise decision. In my story, the merchant tried to retrieve one item after another. He might have made it with the gold coins. But he had lost his ability to think clearly when he got too absorbed in trying to take more than one item.

If you don’t think that abundant thinking is the answer for you, I can respect that. I don’t profess my site to have solutions for everyone or for every case. It is targeted for those, like myself, who wish to be reminded that it helps to have a positive or abundance mindset in whatever situation we are in.

Once again, thank you for sharing your views. I sincerely wish you a turnaround in finances, work and employment for you. May you and your family experience much love, peace and joy also!

Best wishes,

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