Relax, close your eyes and imagine that you're in the countryside, surrounded by rolling green hills and flower-filled meadows. This is where Tim lived. His grandpa, Joe, was a mailman and one day, when the mail van broke down, Grandpa Joe asked Tim if he could help him with the deliveries. And delivering the mail turned out to be full of adventure. Would you like to know what happened? Listen carefully to their story.
The sun was rising as Grandpa Joe and a yawning young Tim set off on the morning mail round. Tim struggled a little under the weight of the mailbags. But he didn't complain. Grandpa Joe was so pleased to have his help.
“With the van at the garage, I couldn’t manage these bags all by myself” said Grandpa Joe. “I'm getting older now, you know. And it will be nice to have your company, too. But tell me if the bags get too heavy, Tim.”
As the sun climbed higher into the sky, Grandpa Joe and Tim walked together along the winding country roads. After a while Tim started to feel tired and the mailbags seemed to get heavier with every step. He tried to distract himself from his discomfort by whistling. He didn’t want to let Grandpa Joe know he was struggling.
Just then they turned a bend and came upon a lamb caught in a prickly hedge. The lamb was very distressed and bleating in pain. Tim forgot all about his arms aching with the weight of the mailbags. He put the bags down and ran to the hedge as fast as he could, then he and Grandpa Joe worked to free the frightened lamb. The thorns scratched Tim’s arms and hands, but at last the lamb was free.
“We’d better try to find this lamb's mother,” said Grandpa Joe.
“There are sheep in the next field,” said Tim excitedly as he looked over the fence. “Perhaps the mother isn’t far away.”
Gently holding the lamb, Tim climbed over the fence. He ran across the field to a stile and climbed into the next field. A sheep came up to him, bleating loudly. Tim put the lamb down and it skipped up to the sheep and nestled in close.
“That must be his mother,” called Grandpa Joe, smiling.
Tim rejoined Grandpa Joe in the road and they continued on their way.
“We helped that lamb, Grandpa,” said Tim.
“You did most of the hard work,” said Grandpa Joe and he patted Tim on the back. “Well done.”
“The strangest thing is I don't feel tired and my arms aren't aching anymore,” Tim said to himself. He thought about how good it was to help others.
“When I grow up I'm going to help animals or people,” he promised himself “I could be a vet or a doctor.”
The morning grew warmer. After a while, Tim began to feel the weight of the mailbags and the pain in his arms again. He began to feel sorry for himself and wished he had never agreed to help Grandpa Joe.
“I should have stayed at home. I could still be in bed or playing in the garden,” Tim thought.
The darker Tim's thoughts grew, the heavier his load felt. All he could think about was getting rid of the bags he was carrying. Tim even started to feel angry with Grandpa Joe for asking him to help with the deliveries. Tim was so caught up in his black thoughts that he didn't notice Grandpa Joe had led him off the road toward a farmhouse.
“Listen, Tim,” said Grandpa Joe. “Someone's crying.”
They found the farmer’s wife, Mrs Brown, sitting in the middle of the farmyard, sobbing. Tim forgot his angry thoughts and together he and Grandpa Joe hurried over to find out what was wrong.
“I tripped and sprained my ankle. I can't get up, and the poor animals haven't been fed,” cried Mrs Brown.
“Don’t worry,” said Grandpa Joe. “We’ll help you.”
In no time at all Grandpa Joe had got Mrs Brown up and helped her hobble back to the farmhouse. He sat her down in a chair and lifted her sprained ankle onto a footstool. “That’ll help reduce the swelling,” he said.
Tim took care of all the animals. He scattered seed for the chickens that were scratching about in the yard, he gave the pigs food scraps from the kitchen, and he put fresh hay in the stables for the horses and the cows.
“You’ve done so much for me,” said Mrs Brown. She pointed at a tray of chocolate muffins. “Please take some of those as a thank you. I baked them this morning.”
Tim felt contented after helping Mrs Brown, just as he had after rescuing the lamb. He found that he had lots of energy and was no longer tired. “Perhaps I will become a teacher or a fireman when I grow up,” he said to himself “Helping people really is wonderful.”
Grandpa Joe and Tim continued on their way. The hot sun blazed down and the dust on the road made Tim cough. He began to forget his happy thoughts again. He looked at the road stretching endlessly in front and thought to himself “No-one is helping me. I’ve helped all these people today but what have I got in return? I should just look after myself.”
Tim's bags felt bigger and heavier than ever and his anger caused an ache in his heart.
But then he remembered Mrs Brown and the lamb. And he remembered how pleased his grandfather had been when he’d agreed to help him on the mail round. Every time he had helped people he’d felt warm and happy and the mailbags had seemed easier to carry. “People have been helping me all day,” thought Tim.
He realized all he needed now was a rest and then he would be able to carry on. Nothing else was wrong.
“Grandpa Joe, I’m sorry but I’m feeling really tired. Could we sit down and have a rest?” asked Tim.
“Of course, Tim,” said Grandpa Joe. “It's important to know when to stop. You’ve done really well today. It's not easy to carry these heavy bags such a long way.”
They sat down and Grandpa Joe pulled out a flask of tea and they each ate one of Mrs Brown’s muffins. And the muffin was the most delicious Tim had ever tasted. It’s easy to blow problems out of proportion when we only focus on our feelings. When we take care of others, as well as ourselves, everyone benefits and problems become opportunities.