My mom told me this story a long time ago and it hangs out in my mind palace until it needs to resurface and remind me that if you are a good and honest person, things will turn out well for you.
Long ago, a king was troubled as he was trying to decide who his responsibilities and lands will be passed to as he had no heir. He wasn’t long for this world, and he wanted to ensure his kingdom would be left to someone who was pure of heart, someone who wasn’t corrupt or of ill nature. After a long time of contemplation, he held a competition that was open to all his subjects.
In one of the smaller villages lived a young man. He was poor, but he was hard working and he cared for his mother. News of the king’s competition reached their village and the young man’s mother urged him to participate. The challenge was simple enough: everyone who entered will be given a pot and all they had to do was water it and grow whatever was planted inside. The person who had the most majestic plant in one month’s time will be chosen as the king’s successor.
The young man didn’t think he would win, but he wanted to make his mother happy, so he entered and received his pot. Every day he cared for his pot. He made sure he watered it and that it received enough sun, but no plant grew. As the days went by, he became saddened and upset. No matter what he did, his plant would not grow. His mother begged him to plant their own seeds in the pot so he would be able to display something at the palace. She didn’t want her son to be embarrassed when it was time for the people to show off their hard work. The young man refused. He continued to water the pot until the very last day of the competition.
When it was time to enter the palace and present to the king, the young man clutched his flowerless pot to his chest and waited his turn. Everyone around him had wonderful flowers to display and he was filled with self-doubt and sadness. He wondered what it was he did wrong, why nothing grew no matter what he did. When it was his turn to meet the king, he took a deep breath and showed the king his pot. “I am sorry, majesty. I could not grow anything. I have failed.”
When he looked up from his pot, he saw a huge smile on the king’s face. “My boy, you shall be the next king.” The young man was confused and baffled. “How? I failed!” The king shook his head. “I want my successor to be someone who has an honest heart, and you have just that.”
The young man looked down at his pot, still confused. “But there are so many beautiful flowers to choose from. Why choose someone who couldn’t even accomplish the simplest task?”
The king laughed. “Because all the pots we sent out had no seeds! Therefore, anyone who came in with flowers was dishonest and not trustworthy. You come here with nothing, but now I shall give you everything.”
And the young man ruled, well loved and adored by all his subjects, for many years.