I've always liked this brief enigmantic story by Walter Benjamin. Times like now when I'm running around trying to arrange things and wondering what the purpose of all of it is, it seems particularly appropriate.
One evening at the close of the Sabbath the Jews sat in a poor inn in a Hasidic village. All of them were locals except for one whom no one knew, a very poor and tattered fellow who cowered in the background in the shadow of the oven. The conversation turned to this and that, until someone asked the question what each of them would wish for if he were to be granted one wish. One wanted money, another a son-in-law, a third a new workbench, and so it went around the group.
After all had spoken their turn, only the beggar in the corner by the oven remained. Reluctantly and with hesitation he replied to their questioning: “I would that I were a mighty king and ruled in a great country and lay asleep at night in my palace and enemies broke across the borders and by dawn the riders had penetrated to my castle, and that there were no resistance and I, frightened from my sleep, not even having time to dress myself, wearing only my shirt, had to take flight, and that I were pursued over mountains and valleys, through woods and across hills until I arrived here and found safety on this bench in your corner. That is what I wish.”
The others looked at him uncomprehendingly. “And what would you have as a result of all that?” asked someone. “A shirt,” was the answer.
Source: Walter Benjamin. “Der Wunsch.” In Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. IV, Part 2, p. 759. Translation is mine, the original will follow if I can find where I put the photocopy of the text.