Once a king had a great highway built for the members of his kingdom. After it was completed, but before it was opened to the public, the king decided to have a contest. He invited as many as desired to participate. Their challenge was to see who could travel the highway the best.
On the day of the contest the people came. Some of them had fine chariots, some had fine clothing, fine hairdos, or great food. Some young men came in their track clothes and ran along the highway. People traveled the highway all day, but each one, when he arrived at the end, complained to the king that there was a large pile of rocks and debris left on the road at one spot and this got in their way and hindered their travel.
At the end of the day, a lone traveler crossed the finish line warily and walked over to the king. He was tired and dirty, but he addressed the king with great respect and handed him a bag of gold he explained, “I stopped along the way to clear a pile of rocks and debris that was blocking the road. This bag of gold was under it all. I want you to return it to its rightful owner.”
The king replied, “You are the rightful owner.”
The traveler replied, “Oh no, this is not mine. I’ve never known such money.”
“Oh yes,” said the king, “you’ve earned this gold, for you won my contest. The one who travels the road best is he who makes the road smoother for those who will follow.”
I expect to pass through life but once. If, therefore, there can be any kindness I can show, any good thing I can do to any fellow human being, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.
– Wm Penn