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19 December, 2011

The Touchstone

When the great library of Alexandria burned, the story goes, one book was saved. But it was not a valuable book; and so a poor man, who could read a little, bought it for a few coppers.

The book wasn't very interesting, but between its pages there was something very interesting indeed. It was a thin strip of vellum on which was written the secret of the "Touchstone"!

The touchstone was a small pebble that could turn any common metal into pure gold. The writing explained that it was lying among thousands and thousands of other pebbles that looked exactly like it. But the secret was this: The real stone would feel warm, while ordinary pebbles are cold. So the man sold his few belongings, bought some simple supplies, camped on the seashore, and began testing pebbles.

He knew that if he picked up ordinary pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebble hundreds of times. So, when he felt one that was cold, he threw it into the sea. He spent a whole day doing this but none of them was the touchstone. Yet he went on and on this way. Pick up a pebble. Cold - throw it into the sea. Pick up another. Throw it into the sea.

The days stretched into weeks and the weeks into months. One day, however, about mid afternoon, he picked up a pebble and it was warm. He threw it into the sea before he realized what he had done. He had formed such a strong habit of throwing each pebble into the sea that when the one he wanted came along, he still threw it away. So it is with opportunity. Unless we are vigilant, it's easy to fail to recognize an opportunity when it is in hand and it's just as easy to throw it away.

The Price of Freedom

Have you ever been tempted to cut a corner or to take the easiest route, though you know it may not necessarily be the best one? Or have you ever made a decision because it was quick and simple, knowing that it might come back to bite you later?

I appreciate a parable Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard told about the dangers of taking the easy route. It is a story about a wild duck. Though life was difficult at times, the beautiful creature loved the boundless heavens and the endless stretches of wilderness. Soaring about treetops and towns, the duck symbolized to its tame counterparts, who could not fly, the epitome of freedom.

One evening during fall migration, he chanced to light in a barnyard where a farmer was feeding his ducks. The beautiful creature ate the corn the farmer sprinkled about and liked it so much that he stayed the night in a bed of warm straw. He ate the duck's corn again the next day. And the next. And the next....

When spring came, he heard his old companions flying overhead and an almost forgotten yearning awoke deep within him. The duck had all but squelched his instinct for freedom over the comfortable and easy winter. But now he yearned to join his comrades in the sky. He flapped his stretched wings as he strained toward the flock, but he had grown fat and indolent and unable to fly. The wild duck had become a tame duck.

The easy way through our problems, though appealing, may not be the best way. (Remember...the only place you will find success before work is in the dictionary!). It's always easier to borrow than to save; easier to jump in now than to do the hard work of planning; easier to postpone confronting a situation than to remedy it; easier to cut corners than to do it right; easier to remain the same than to make changes.

If you want to fly, you may have to pay a price. But freedom is worth it -- at any cost!

Are you ready to soar?

Follow Your Dreams

I have a friend named Monty Roberts who owns a horse ranch in San Ysidro. He has let me use his house to put on fund-raising events to raise money for youth at risk programs.

The last time I was there he introduced me by saying, “I want to tell you why I let Jack use my house. It all goes back to a story about a young man who was the son of an itinerant horse trainer who would go from stable to stable, race track to race track, farm to farm and ranch to ranch, training horses. As a result the boy’s high school career was continually interrupted. When he was a senior, he was asked to write a paper about what he wanted to be and do when he grew up.

That night he wrote a seven-page paper, describing his goal of some day owning a horse ranch. He wrote about his dream in great detail and he even drew a diagram of a 200-acre ranch, showing the location of all the buildings, the stables and the track. Then he drew a detailed floor plan for a 4,000 square-foot house that would sit on the 200-acre dream ranch.

He put a great deal of his heart into the project and the next day he handed it in to his teacher. Two days later he received his paper back. On the front page was a large red ‘F’ with a note that read, “see me after class.”

The boy with the dream went to see the teacher after class and asked, ‘Why did I receive an ‘F’?”

The teacher said, “This is an unrealistic dream for a young boy like you. You have no resources. Owning a horse ranch requires a lot of money. You have to buy the land. You have to pay for the original breeding stock and land. You have to pay for the original breeding stock and later you will have to pay large stud fees. There is no way you could ever do it”.

Then the teacher added, “If you will rewrite this paper with a more realistic goal, I will reconsider your grade.”

The boy went home and thought about it long and hard. He asked his father what he should do.

His father said, Look, son you have to make up your mind on this. However, I think it is a very important decision for you.

Finally, after sitting with it for a week, the boy turned in the same paper, not making any changes at all to his paper.

He stated, “You can deep the F and I’ll keep my dream”.

Monty then turned to the assembled group and said, “I tell you this story because you are sitting in my 4,000-square-foot house in the middle of my 200-acre horse ranch. I still have that school paper framed over the fire-place, he added. The best part of the story is that two summers ago that same school teacher brought 30 kids to camp out on my ranch for a week.

When the teacher was leaving he said, “Look Monty, I can tell you this now. When I was your teacher, I was something of a DREAM STEALER. During those years I stole a lot of kids’ dreams. Fortunately you had enough guts, courage, belief and persistence to FOLLOW YOUR DREAM”.

The key to this story is, do not let anyone steal your dreams, just follow your heart no matter what after all it is your dream.

Now if this true story does not stir up anything in you then you need to check, what am I made of. Remember to dream lofty dreams it does not cost you anything.

Courtsey : Jack Canfield