Stories, much like Strengths, have the power to transcend time, language and culture.
We can each find our own truth in the fiction. But sadly, there rarely seems to be room for story in our frenzied world, obsessed with contrived ‘reality’, status updates and vacuous tweets.
But at a recent engagement in Panama City, I was reminded of our craving for story and the connection it creates. A participant, and seasoned veteran of life, pulled me aside and said “I want you to read this. It speaks to what you do.” He could not have been more right.
And so I share with you a version of, Acres of Diamonds, by Russell Conwell.
Acres of Diamonds
This story is about a farmer, Al Hafed, who had heard tales of other farmers that made millions by discovering diamond mines. These tales so enticed the farmer, that he could hardly wait to sell his farm and go prospecting for these riches himself. He abruptly sold his land and spent the rest of his life wandering and searching, unsuccessfully, for the gleaming gems. Finally, worn out and in a fit of despondency, he threw himself into a river and drowned.
Meanwhile, the man who had bought his farm happened to be crossing a small stream on the property one day. Suddenly, he was drawn to a bright flash of blue and red light from the river bottom. He bent down and picked up a stone. It was a good sized stone and admiring it, he brought it home and put it on his fireplace mantel as an interesting curiosity.
Several weeks later, a visitor spotted the newest adornment, hefted it in his hand and nearly fainted. He asked the farmer if he knew what he’d found. When the farmer said no, that he thought it was a just a piece of crystal, the visitor told him the truth. He had actually found one of the largest diamonds he had ever seen. The farmer had trouble believing that, because diamonds did not look anything like this raw, jagged stone. Even so, he told the man that his creek was filled with many more stones just like this one.
In fact, the land that the Al Hafed had sold, so that he might find riches, turned out to be one of the most lucrative diamond mines on the continent. Unbeknownst to him, Al Hafed had been sitting atop a treasure trove for most of his life. But he had sold his land for a mere pittance, in order to look for perceived riches elsewhere. If Al Hafed had only taken the time to learn what diamonds looked like in their rough state, and to thoroughly explore the land right in front of him, all of his wildest dreams would have come true.
You see, each of us, at this very moment, is standing in the middle of our own diamond mine. We need not look elsewhere to find our riches. We must not dismiss the stones, for sake of having the diamonds in our hand.