Once, a traveler came to the banks of a raging river. The water surged in mighty rapids over mounds of rough and jagged rock.
For many hours the traveler pondered on ways to cross the mighty river. The water moved far too swiftly to swim across, and any raft that he fashioned would be swept up in the rapids and smashed into the rocks below.
After much thought, he decided that he would fasten a length of rope to the end of an arrow and fire it across the river and into an outcropping of rock. It took many tries and he lost many arrows, but at last he fired true and secured the arrow into the rock so that it could not be moved. He fastened the other end of the rope around the trunk of a tree, and grasping onto the rope, he began to pull himself across the water.
Very soon after he began his journey, another traveler appeared on the bank opposite him. The first traveler continued his way across slowly, battered by the rapids as he went. All the while the second traveler stood silently and watched the spectacle before him.
At long last the first traveler, worn and battered, touched the soil of the bank. The second traveler offered his hand to the first and helped him to his feet. The first traveler thanked him and said, “I have crossed the river. Although the journey was difficult and I was battered by rapid and rock the whole way, I stand here alive and whole. Please, take my rope to make your way across. Although the journey will be difficult, as I have made it, so will you.”
The second traveler looked upon the first and said “My friend, I made MY journey across the river many, many days ago. I know that the way is difficult, but as I have had time to walk the bank these many days, I also know that there are other ways to cross this river.”
The first traveler regarded the second in astonishment and said, “If that is so, and you did not need to know how to cross the river, then why did you stand there and watch me as I crossed?”
The second traveler smiled and replied, “Did you consider that perhaps I simply wanted to watch YOUR journey?”
The Moral: Because you see someone who stands opposite of you, do not assume that they have not once stood where you stand now.