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Positively Speaking: What you ask of life

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By Toby Moore

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of man named Toby Moore
Toby Moore

Have you ever read this old yet poignant poem by Jessie B. Rittenhouse?

I bargained with life for a penny,

And life would pay no more,

However, I begged at the evening

When I counted my scanty store.

For life is a just employer,

It gives you what you ask,

But once you have set the wages,

Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire,

Only to learn, dismayed,

That any wage I had asked of life,

Life would have willingly paid.”

The poem underscores that life is prepared to offer us whatever we ask of it. But is that true?

You might wonder, “I’ve dreamed of a better life, yet it hasn’t materialized. I’ve often asked, Why can’t I be a movie star? A pro athlete? Or even rich?’”

Are you asking, or are you complaining?

Grumbling about the life you desire yet don’t have or envying what others possess points to a bigger issue – a heart steeped in bitterness.

This self-victimization and surrender to circumstances turns into a life of negativity.

Ancient scriptures tell us that when we genuinely ask, we receive. But they also warn that grumbling lips can lead to ruin.

The poem hints at a nuanced interpretation of the word “ask.”

In this context, “ask” could be synonymous with “expect.” So, when you ask life for your desires, do you anticipate them materializing?

What have you sincerely requested and expected from life?

I’ve heard it said that when you ask for something and actively move toward it, unseen forces come to your aid.

Numerous individuals who have achieved remarkable feats have personally witnessed this phenomenon. I’ve seen it in my life.

Things align, the right people appear as if by magic, opportunities and situations fall into place, and the door to possibility swings wide open.

When you transition from a state of complaint and bitterness to asking with expectation, you evolve into a dreamer, an adventurer. You develop the faith that what you’ve asked for has already been granted; you need only continue working with a cheerful heart, secure in your impending triumph.

Think about this: How would you chase your dreams if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Would you gripe about your dreams not materializing quickly enough? Or would you work tirelessly, filled with gratitude, to seize what life has offered you?

Author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins shares a story of encountering a drunken man in a town square who asked him for a quarter.

Robbins pondered if he should reward this type of behavior. He has a giving heart, so he chose to give, attempting to impart a lesson simultaneously.

He asked the man, “All you want is a quarter?” as he leafed through a stack of hundred-dollar bills, searching for some change.

The man’s eyes bulged at the sight of the money, and he said something like, “Yes sir, a quarter would change my life,” as he anticipated receiving hundred-dollar bills, even though he’d only requested a quarter.

Robbins handed him a quarter, leaving the man to label him “weird” as he staggered into the night.

Life can sometimes be a harsh teacher. What are you asking of it? Are you pleading for just enough to get by, or are you seeking your dreams?

I’ve encountered folks who argue that it’s wrong to aspire to great things when so many have so little.

I believe the universe has unlimited blessings to offer to those who ask and move toward their goals with the expectation of success.

Am I suggesting that those who have nothing have done something wrong?

Not at all. We all face unique advantages and disadvantages; some are born into hopeless situations with no apparent escape, unless people like you and I align our purpose to lend a helping hand.

Perhaps we are the miracle they’ve been asking for.

Dare to dream big. You can become the shining light of hope for those in need.

Life is always ready to reward our audacity to dream, our courage to ask, and our commitment to chase those dreams.

Reflecting on Jessie B. Rittenhouse’s poem: Are we asking life for a penny or a wealth of experiences, opportunities and joy?

Toby Moore is a columnist, the star of Emmy-nominated “A Separate Peace,” and the CEO of Cubestream Inc.

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