The Man, the Seashore, and the Four Prescriptions

Once upon a time, there was a man who felt he'd reached the end of his rope.

It seemed that all the interest had suddenly vanished from his life; his creative wells had seemingly dried up. He still had his work, but it suddenly felt meaningless to him. Even his family and his home receded darkly in his mind.

Finally, nearing the point of desperation, he went to see his old friend, the family doctor. The doctor listened to his story, saw the depth of his depression, and then asked him, "When you were a child, what did you like to do best?"

"I liked to visit the seashore," he said.

"All right," the doctor said, "you must do exactly as I tell you. I want you to spend all day tomorrow at the shore. Find a lonely stretch of beach and spend the entire day there from 9 o'clock in the morning until 6 o'clock in the evening. Take nothing to read, and do nothing calculated to distract you in any way. I'm going to give you 4 prescriptions in order. Take the first at 9 o'clock, the second at noon, the third at 3 o'clock, and the last at 6 o'clock.

Don't look at them now. Wait until you arrive at the shore tomorrow morning."

The man promised he would take the doctor's advice and the next morning, a little before 9 o'clock, he parked his car on a lonely stretch of beach. There was a strong wind blowing in from the sea and the surf was high and pounding.

He walked to sand dune near the seething surf and sat down. He took out prescription number one, opened and read it. It said...


That was all that was written on it, the one word, "Listen!"

And so for 3 hours that's all he did. He listened to the sound of the buffeting wind and the lonely cries of the gulls. He listened to the sound of the booming surf. He sat quietly, and he listened.

At noon, he read the second prescription. It said, simply... 

Reach back.

And so for the next three hours he did just that. He let his mind go back as far as it could go and he thought of all the incidents of his life he could remember; the happy times, the good times, the struggles and the successes.

At 3 o'clock, he tore open the third prescription. It read... 

Re-examine your motives. 

And this took so much intense thought and concentration that the remaining 3 hours slipped quickly by. For 3 hours, he re-examined his motives, his reasons for living and moved closer to fulfillment. He clarified and re-stated his goals.

And at 6 o'clock, under a gray, darkening sky and with a taste of salt spray on the wind, he read the fourth and final prescription. It read... 

Write your worries in the sand.

There had been one thing that had been worrying him particularly, so he walked to the hard sand and with a stick wrote this in the sand and stood looking at it for a moment. Then, as he walked toward where his car was parked, he looked back and saw that the incoming tide had already erased his worry. He got in his car and drove homeward.

.    .    .

The man, the seashore and the four prescriptions: Listen, reach back, re-examine your motives, and then write your worries in the sand.

Source: The Essence of Success (Audio Program), by Earl Nightingale

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Daniel Cerescu

I'm Daniel Cerescu, and I'm the guy behind this blog. Even though most of the material on this website is free, I aim to make this free content better than anyone else’s paid stuff. My mission is to inspire and empower those who refuse to settle for anything less than an extraordinary life to live with passion, lead with purpose, and make their mark on the world.