Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wisdom from the Oil Salesman

Ouyang Xiu (歐陽修) was a Chinese statesman, historian, essayist and poet of the Song Dynasty. I have read many of his literature. When Ouyang was a little kid, his family was very poor. He couldn’t afford school supply. He used tree branch as a pen to write on the sand. I have read many his literature a long time ago but I still have memory of his work on “Regarding the Pavilion of The Old Drunkard” and “Old Oil Salesman”.

Kang Su Gong was the most famous archer in Northern Song Dynasty. He was practicing shooting in his front yard one day. Many people went watching him. There was an Old cooking oil salesman had two buckets of oil with him. He left two buckets of oil on ground, taking a rest and watching Kang Su Gong. Kang Su Gong has missed only one shot out of ten. Every one started to cheer, but the salesman only nodded his head.

Kang Su Gong saw that, not very pleased.
“ Do you know archery? How do you think my skill?”
“Not very special, just because you have done it for a while” Salesman said.
Kang Su Gong become very angry, “How can you put me down like this?”
Salesman said, “I can show you by pouring my oil.”

He placed a calabash on the ground, then placed a small Tong Qian(Traditional Chinese money with a square hole in the middle) on top of the mouth of the calabash. He took a big spoon and scooped some oil out from the buckets. He then poured the oil into the calabash. You can see the oil formed a long string and went into the calabash through the small hole of the Tong Qian. He was very steady, so you couldn’t see any oil left on the Tong Qian.
After the salesman has done this, he said, “It’s not a big deal I did this, I have done that easily just because I have practiced a lot.” Kang Su Gong smiled and politely sent him away.

We are not only learned that practice make you good from this story, but also found that being humble can prepare you better from learning new skill, because there are always some oil salesmen around whom has unique techniques to show you.

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