Every writer reads, but not all readers write. Why? Because writers are searching for a diamond. The diamond that will spark their next thought, word, blog post or book. It’s a silent celebration for the writer who discovers substantive inspiration in someone else’s words.
Often, writers will read widely outside of their craft in order to open themselves up to new ideas and different styles in hopes to unveil that diamond.
Reading, for writers, is a form of travel. We can go to far away places without shouldering the cost of boarding a tin bird.
To be sure, this search is necessary. But when it blinds us to the diamond sitting right in our own backyard, the pursuit backfires.
It reminds of this parable:
In ancient Persia, a wealthy farmer leaves his home to seek greater wealth, and spends his life in a fruitless search for a perhaps mythical diamond mine. Finally, as age and years of frustration take their toll, he throws himself into the sea and dies, an unhappy pauper far from home. Meanwhile, back at his estate, the new owner, surveying his vast acreage, sees something in a stream, something bright, glistening in the sunlight. It is a large diamond, and turns out to rest atop the fabulous Golconda mine.
The other day, during the last hour of light, I took a walk around my neighborhood. My wife and I live in a master-planned community. It’s very nice but hardly stimulating. Manicured lawns dressed with unfussy, long-lived perennials that birth beautiful foliage. Driveways populated with expensive SUV’s that people don’t need in California. Middle aged women doing pilates in their garage studios while the echo of Katy Perry from their stereo permeates the block. That type of neighborhood, you know?
My walks are typically passive – sort of a trigger to wind down at the end of the day. I’ve shuffled passed Founders park many times over the few years while we’ve lived here. And until the other day, I never took interest in the dad lobbing pitches to his son as the blaze of fire drops below the horizon.
But this time was different. Suddenly, I trace back to the fact that I’ve seen this duo working together quietly but persistently as far as I can remember.
The realization was irresistible and disarming.
I stopped walking. A breeze out of nowhere shook the trees. Baseballs were scattered throughout the green grass. Nightfall is soon, but the dusk glow offers a delta mode for the dad and son to get in a few more reps. Pops tosses a pitch and the metal bat clings. They do this a few more times, and then dad walks up to his kid and gently shakes his little head as a gesture to say, “good work today son.”
It’s likely that they’ll be back tomorrow, to do the same thing, at the same time.
I don’t know this pair. I’ve never spoken a word to either of them. But I do know this: They offered me a diamond in my own backyard. In my search for creative ideas typically via reading, I had blindly walked by something beautiful more times than I’d like to admit.
The dad and son had shown me that wherever we desire progress, we must give attention to. Declaring with our words that we want something does not mean progress is automatically rendered.
With the pace at which we live today, it’s painfully easy to get caught in the vortex of dissonance resulting in a clash between what we say and how we behave.
A simple question that can steer us back on track is this: Does our behavior match our desires?
- If we want our house to be clutter free, does our behavior match that desire?
- If we want to lose 20 pounds, does our behavior match that desire?
- If we want to mature spiritually, does our behavior match that desire?
- If we want to write a book, does our behavior match that desire?
- If we want to get that promotion at work, does our behavior match that desire?
- For the dad and son, I’m assuming that the desire was for the kid to get better at his swing.
And so, they committed to practicing it consistently. The desire to improve at his swing was matched by the behavior of daily practice.
I stumbled upon a diamond in my own backyard that came in the form of commitment. I’ve walked past this gem of a lesson plenty of times on my previous walks – it was in plain sight waiting to be discovered.
And when I finally uncovered the value with my eyes, I also realized there was an unseen lesson tucked into the finding: The diamond requires fidelity to capitalize on its potential value.
Photo: Getty Images