Staring down the barrel of a silver handgun, the shopkeeper had no idea what was happening until the command came. “Give me all of your money or I swear I will kill you on the spot!”. Eyes wide with adrenalin and laced with doubt, was staring at the shopkeeper from behind the barrel of the gun. With sweaty palms, the shopkeeper opened up the cash register and started taking out all the money. “Is there anything else I can help you with sir?” asked the shopkeeper with a sincere smile. Taken aback by the reaction, the man in the mask hesitated. “What do you mean?” he asked. “I just think that money is only one small part of the problems you are struggling with at this present time, am I right?”

With his heart pounding in is chest, drowning any outside noise, the man in the black mask slowly nodded up and down to confirm the answer. “I also know that although this money you are about to take will only provide short term relief to your predicament, it is in no way a solution to your problems, will you agree to that?” Dumbfounded, the man again nodded slowly up and down while shifting his weight continuously from his left to his right. Suddenly, he violently shook his head from side to side: “What the hell does any of that help, even if it is true?” As the shopkeeper slowly put down the money on the white, slightly age-stained counter as he answered the question.

“You see, I was like you. Desperate. Life also pushed me to a point where I could no longer make ends meet and in my mind, my only option was to steal from those that could afford it. I was in almost the exact same situation as you are now, only that it wasn’t a shop but a small all-night gambling facility and there was a very pretty young lady behind the cash register. She alluded to the same thing I am about to offer you. I need an assistant for the shop and I think that you would be the perfect individual for the post. You definitely have courage and you are willing to make a plan to assist you with your life, even if this plan is not a very good and sustainable one.

I can show you how to turn that bravery into something that will elevate you from this desperate situation that you are in. All you have to do is put down the gun on the counter and then we can talk some more.” Confusion ran rife through the masked man’s mind. This was not supposed to happen. He played the scene out in his mind a hundred times and this was not part of it. He would have the upper hand and he would be the perpetrator with the authority to tell the man to give him the money. His weapon was all the authority he needed, now he was curious.

Could there really be a light at the end of the tunnel?

Was this man for real?

Did he really have a chance to turn his life around?

What would happen to his two children if he continued on this path?

A million other questions seem to run through his mind in an instant. He knew these questions were there, but just like he knew the wind was real and could not see it, he knew that these questions could not be answered in that moment. Hope started dawning on a night of desperation. “Do you really mean it?” he asked with a trembling voice. “I really do…” came the reply accompanied by a sincere and honest smile. Ever so cautious, the man lowered the gun slowly to the counter and gently placed it next to the money. A relief came over him like never before, the adrenal rush was slowly starting to fade and he let out a huge sigh. “To tell you the truth, I never wanted to stea…”

The loud noise of the gun firing, drowned out the last part of the sentence and was the only sound he could hear. As the bullet penetrated his forehead right between the eyes, blowing out a massive hole in the back of the mask and his skull, his face froze with surprise as his lifeless body dropped to the ground. The merciless smile on the shopkeeper’s face was more sincere than any of his previous ones, unfortunately the man lying on the ground would never witness it.

A teacher that betrays your trust. A spouse that cheats on you. A business partner that stole from you. A friend that disappoints. A family member that hurts your feelings. Any of these could be the shopkeeper and life is full of disappointments. See them for the temporary events that they are and keep holding on to your own authority and essence, do not transfer it to an inanimate object that anyone can use against you. Life has essence. Treasure it.