Monday, November 15, 2010
Planet Here and Now
I am sure many of you are familiar with Russel H. Conwell's lecture "Acres of Diamonds". If you haven't read it yet, here is a digital copy of it. The premise of the lecture is that opportunity is all around us and that we just need to look. Mr. Conwell tells a great many stories in this "lecture" that he taught across the country, but my favorite is the first story.
The story is about a man (I believe he's a farmer) in India who is visited by a holy man. The holy man tells this farmer about the value of diamonds and how having just one could buy the man a huge palace, and having a handful would make his children's children rich beyond their wildest dreams. Of course, wanting the best for his family and himself, he embarks on a journey to find some diamonds. Unfortunately he dies, penniless and far away from home. The story goes on to tell that the heir to the farmland happens to uncover a diamond while working in his own field. As a matter of fact, the field that the poor farmer had worked on his whole life, was full of diamonds (hence where the title comes from).
So the moral of the story ultimately is the point of Russel Conwell's sermon: So many people try to find, success, wealth, and happiness somewhere else when everything you could ever want is right here and right now. This speech was first published in 1890, yet the concepts in it still ring clear and true as a bell. I certainly can relate to many people who feel that due to the recession, opportunities in their hometown or city of current residence have been tapped out. There are, after all, roughly 15 million people nationwide searching desperately for gainful employment. I am sure that people back then felt something similar.
Here it was, only a few short years after the Civil War. The country was in a wreck. Yet they were on the brink of change. They didn't know back then but the boom of the Industrial Age was right around the corner. I can only imagine how hopeless those people felt at the time. Yet here is a man that is saying in the midst of what looks like nothing, if we look deeper, we will find everything we desire. We don't have to go anywhere it is all right here, right now. I often wonder how a man like Russell Conwell would react in today's world, seeing so many people, that have so much at their disposal, and choose to give up and say "there is nothing for me here".
The truth is he probably would not be surprised AT ALL. You see there is a part of his speech in where he voices this very concern. That people would hear this lecture, or read it and agree with every word of it, then go home and do nothing, and live the same hopeless lives they've always lead: constantly looking at the grass on the other side of the fence and chasing after something that has been right in front of them all along.
So how do we fix this problem? Well here are a few ideas that come off the top of my head:
1.) "Love the One You're With". Who would've thought such a pure concept could be expressed so well in song. Luther Vandross had the right idea, sure you may not be where you think you want to be, or with who you think you want to be with. So love where you are and who you are with anyways.
2.) Think Outside the Box. I used to hate when my dad told me that. At the time I was a kid so my whole reason for hating it was because hearing those words did not "immediately" solve my problem. As an adult it's even worse, because your problems go from "It's raining and there's nothing to do" to "I'm broke and there's nothing to eat". But God gave you a brain for a reason, and if you think about it long and hard enough from enough angles, you may even solve world hunger.
3.) Opportunityisnowhere. Okay I apologize this one is a blatant ripoff of even the most textbook self-help books. But the concept is a good one. How do you look at life? Is the glass half-empty or half-full? Did you lose your Queen or do you still have all your rooks, bishops, knights, and pawns? We have to get used to the fact that not everyone is dealt a fair hand and like online poker most of the hands are crappy anyways. True poker players accept this as fact and find other ways to strategically psych out the other players and win.
4.) Stop complaining. Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that optimists live longer than pessimists? Contrary to popular belief, it can always be worse and the entire world is not plotting your downfall (get over yourself the world has much better things to do). There are people with no arms and legs with 6 months to live that have gotten more out of life because they learned how to not complain. Does that mean we have to put on a smile all the time, no. No one is perfect (my wife has to remind me all the time in so many choice words to stop whining). All I am saying is instead of whining about the car you don't have or the house you don't have or the raise you didn't get or the time Timmy the Terrible beat you up in 5th Grade because you lacked physical strength, start using that same energy towards figuring out how to obtain those things.
5.) Take Action. The hardest step is always the first one. It took me almost two weeks of research and mental planning and finding the right time to blog and a dozen different other factors before I finally said "screw it" and just started typing. So much emphasis is spent teaching people to "Look before you Leap" that somewhere along the lines we forget that we're still supposed to leap. Then we get stuck in Captain Hindsight mode and nothing ever gets accomplished.
This is your life, this is your story and you control how it ends; not your mother or father or teacher or even Terrible Timmy from the 5th Grade. Welcome to Planet HereAndNow: Population - You! Where "if you can't make it here, you won't make it anywhere"!