(A true story of Robert Fulghum and his 7-year-old daughter Molly)
It was Molly's job to hand her father his brown paper lunch bag each
morning before he headed off to work. One morning, in addition to his usual
lunch bag, Molly handed him a second paper bag. This one was worn and held
together with duct tape, staples, and paper clips.
"Why two bags" Fulghum asked.
"The other is something else," Molly answered.
"What's in it?"
"Just some stuff. Take it with you."
Not wanting to hold court over the matter, Fulghum stuffed both sacks into
his briefcase, kissed Molly and rushed off. At midday, while hurriedly
scarfing down his real lunch, he tore open Molly's bag and shook out the
contents: two hair ribbons, three small stones, a plastic dinosaur, a
pencil stub, a tiny sea shell, two animal crackers, a marble, a used
lipstick, a small doll, two chocolate kisses, and 13 pennies.
Fulghum smiled, finished eating, and swept the desk clean
- into the wastebasket - leftover lunch, Molly's junk and all.
That evening, Molly ran up behind him as he read the paper.
"Where's my bag?"
"You know, the one I gave you this morning."
"I left it at the office. Why?"
"I forgot to put this note in it," she said. "And, besides, those are my
things in the sack, Daddy, the ones I really like - I thought you might
to play with them, but now I want them back. You didn't lose the bag, did
"Oh, no," he said, lying. "I just forgot to bring it home. I'll bring it
While Molly hugged her father's neck, he unfolded the note that had not
made it into the sack: "I love you, Daddy."
Molly had given him her treasures. All that a 7-year-old held dear. Love
in a paper sack, and he missed it - not only missed it, but had thrown it
the wastebasket. So back he went to the office. Just ahead of the night
janitor, he picked up the wastebasket and poured the contents on his desk.
After washing the mustard off the dinosaurs and spraying the whole thing
with breath-freshener to kill the smell of onions, he carefully smoothed
the wadded ball of brown paper, put the treasures inside and carried it
gingerly, like and injured kitten. The bag didn't look so good, but the
stuff was all there and that's what counted.
After dinner, he asked Molly to tell him about the stuff in the sack. It
took a long time to tell. Everything had a story or a memory or was
attached to dreams and imaginary friends. Fairies had brought some of the
things. He had given her the chocolate kisses, and she had kept them for
she needed them.
"Sometimes I think of all the times in this sweet life," Fulghum concludes
the story, "when I must have missed the affection I was being given. A
friend calls this 'standing knee deep in the river and dying of thirst.' "
We should all remember that it's not the destination that counts in life -
it's the journey.
The little girl smiles, the dinosaurs and chocolate kisses wrapped in old
paper bags that we sometimes throw away too thoughtlessly, each day,
each a tiny treasure.
The journey with the people we love is all that really matters. Such a
simple truth so easily forgotten.