Richwee's Retirement Blog

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  • Richard Wee

    I retired on Jul 1, 2009 at the age of 55. I wrote this blog to help current retirees and new ones on how to retire well. This is based on my experience and readings. I welcome feedback and comments.

    Regards, Richard

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Three lessons from Alexander The Great

Posted by Papa Rich Wee on November 29, 2009


For many of us retired or retiring soon, we are challenged by health, money and our souls. We work really hard for the material things thinking we will or may bring them with us. Well, even the great Alexander found falsehood in this thinking.

Here is the story. It is very good as a lesson for us all. Read it and start living it. Otherwise, you missed Alexander’s lessons for us.

A story well told ….

Three Wishes of Alexander The Great

There is very instructive incident involving the life of Alexander, the great Greek king. Alexander, after conquering many kingdoms, was returning home. On the way, he fell ill and it took him to his death bed.

With death staring him in his face, Alexander realized how his conquests, his great army, his sharp sword and all his wealth were of no consequence. He now longed to reach home to see his mother’s face and bid her his last adieu.

But, he had to accept the fact that his sinking health would not permit him to reach his distant homeland. So, the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last.

He called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail.” With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes.

“My first desire is that,” said Alexander, “My physicians alone must carry my coffin.”

After a pause, he continued, “Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury.”

The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute’s rest and continued. “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin.”

The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strange wishes. But no one dare bring the question to their lips.

Alexander’s favorite general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart. “O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?”

At this Alexander took a deep breath and said: “I would like the world to know of the three lessons I have just learnt.
I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor can really cure any body. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. So let not people take life for granted. (Moral of the story – If we don’t take care of our health, nobody can)

The second wish of strewing gold, silver and other riches on the way to the graveyard is to tell people that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth. (Join the S.K.I.Club – Spend Kids Inheritance Club. The money you earn is not yours if you don’t spend it)

And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world.” With these words, the king closed his eyes. Soon he let death conquer him and breathed his last. (We don’t own anything. Even our bodies are borrowed. Only the soul belongs to us)

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5 Responses to “Three lessons from Alexander The Great”

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    For many of us retired or retiring soon, we are challenged by health, money and our souls. We work really hard for the material things thinking we will or may bring them with us. Well, even the great Alexander found falsehood in this thinking. Here is…

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  4. Hi,

    I wanted to post this story, as it offers valuable lessons, something for retirees and senior citizens to reflect on during their sunset years. However, I couldn’t seem to find more reliable sources apart from the one that you provided. The more reputable sites that I have come across during my search, including http://www.livius.org/aj-al/alexander/alexander_t28.html and http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/alexanderdeath.htm, do not make any mention of the 3 last wishes.

    But whether the story is verified or not, the lessons gleaned from it are no less valuable. Might just need to make a note of its unverified source.

  5. I reposted this story here , as it offers valuable lessons, something for retirees and senior citizens to reflect on during their sunset years. I added a little caveat near the end, just to note that there doesn’t seem to be any reliable sources for the anecdote.

    But whether the story is verified or not, the lessons gleaned from it are no less valuable.

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