Russell Conwell, the founder and first president of Temple University, told the story of “Acres of Diamonds” to illustrate just how often focus is misplaced:
A wealthy landowner in south Asia was living a full and contented life until he learned of the magnificence and power of diamonds. The landowner, obsessed by the prospect of possessing such radiant jewels, concluded his life was not that full after all. He sold off his property, abandoned his family – in short, risked everything searching vainly for something he believed he lacked. Desperate and broke after years of searching, he cast himself into the sea and drown. The tragedy of the tale is that years after the man began his quest the new owner of his property discovered, in a stream the former landowner had often cooled himself beside, the richest deposit of diamonds in the world. That former landowner had literally walked away from acres of diamonds, ending his life in despair, because he did not know what treasure he possessed.
Is this a true story? You bet. It’s a story that has been lived millions of times by millions of people. People willingly abandon their greatest assets in search of something they mistakenly believe they lack.
People search frantically – in some cases for what, they do not know: a place for themselves in this world, a place yet to find. Some people wallow in the despair of longing. Others ache with a sense of emptiness, craving something more. In response to the ache, many shackle themselves to the will of ego. In this desperate game, success, fulfillment, happiness, are in distant lands, beyond the next river, over the next hill, always around the next elusive corner. The draw, the elixir of the search is: fortune, fame, love, security, power – attributes people believe they do not possess.
The moral of “Acres of Diamonds” rings true still. We travelers – adventurers, ordinary people living ordinary lives – have what we need to succeed in this life. You need not covet something elusive, you need only recognize and appreciate the treasure you possess – your acres of diamonds.
The distance from despair to fulfillment, from longing to abundance, from sorrow to celebration, is a realization in your mind. Wisdom recognizes your acres of diamonds. If your vision is clouded call on courage and strength and will to help you find your way.
The story of every life, though at times perceived as a disparate trek, is actually an element of an intricately woven tapestry. You are not poor and dispossessed. You are not separate and alone. You have been awarded a great treasure. Weave your cord and add it to the grand tapestry. Fulfill the destiny that is your potential.
Do not despair in the game of hide and seek, searching unceasingly. What you are looking for is hidden in plain sight, surrounding you, protecting you, loving you, in spite of your foolishness.
Use the time, talent and energy you have – for these are your acres of diamonds. Your task is to mine those acres of diamonds for a greater purpose. You have all you need to live a full and fulfilling life – use what you have.
Copyright (c) 2010 Scott F Paradis