A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment.
"What sort of people live in the next town?" asked the stranger.
"What were the people like where you've come from?" replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.
"They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I'm happy to be leaving the scoundrels."
"Is that so?" replied the old farmer. "Well, I'm afraid that you'll find the same sort in the next town.
Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.
Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. "What sort of people live in the next town?" he asked.
"What were the people like where you've come from?" replied the farmer once again.
"They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I'm sorry to be leaving them."
"Fear not," said the farmer. "You'll find the same sort in the next town." (Source)
I knew a man who was given six months to live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was a hard man, critical and unloving, feared by his children and a friend of few. He tried so hard to mend relationships in his last months, asking forgiveness and trying to right a lifetime of wrongs. While I commended his efforts, they were not enough to undo the harm of his actions throughout the years, especially in his children. They will carry the scars of their harsh upbringing and perhaps pass them on for generations to come.
Not everyone gets a six month notice of death. I want to live each day without regret, with love and forgiveness and optimism, looking for the best in the people I see every day.