I want to tell you a story that might at first seem rather strange. I am rather hoping it will start to mean something when you think about it.
Once there was a young fellow who was a bit confused about how his life was working out. It really started to worry him – so much so he sought out the local wise man in his town.
“I’ve got this problem” he told the wise man. “I don’t know if what I am doing is worth anything. With all that stuff to believe – I don’t know how to choose – and actually, I don’t even know if my life has value.”
“Um, I think I can see the problem” said the old guy. “Well this might help.” The guru walked over to the side board, opened the cupboard and took out a pretty ordinary looking rough rock with a red tinge.
“What I want you to do is take it round the town and get a few of the shop keepers to give you an estimate of its worth. But whatever you do don’t sell it. Come back here and tell me what you have learned”.
The young guy was puzzled – but because he was feeling desperate – a bit reluctantly he agreed.
The first shop he came to was a fruiterer. He explained the task to the fruiterer. The shop keeper looked at the rock – turned it over – frowned then he said. “Tell you what – looks fairly ordinary but the red colour makes it a bit special. I’ll swap it with you for a dozen bananas.” “Sorry” said the young man. “It’s not for sale.”
The next stop was a furniture shop. The furniture salesman was only mildly interested. “It might look OK as a sort of ornament on a dish in the middle of a table. “Give you ten dollars?”
“Not selling”, said the young fellow.
Next door was a jewellery store. The Jeweller’s eyes lit up when he saw the rock. “Hang on”, he said and put an eye glass in his eye to get a really good look. “A few specks of precious stones there” he said. “How about I give you a hundred dollars?” “Nah” said the young fellow. “OK then, you drive a hard bargain, $200… final offer!” “No” said the lad, “not selling”.
When the young fellow got out of that shop he spotted another likely shop. This time it was one that specialized in Gem stones just across the road.
That stone seller seemed genuinely surprised. He took one look and his eyes widened. “Hold on…” he said and took a closer look with a big magnifying glass. Then the gem stone merchant handed back the stone most reluctantly. “Sorry”; he said. “That’s out of my league. Under the stone chips on the outside there is something there speaking to me. Under the rough stuff that is the biggest ruby I have ever seen. I simply haven’t got enough money – even if I sold my shop and my home too.”
The young man didn’t know quite what to think. He headed back to the wise man to see if he could explain.
“Isn’t it obvious?” said the wise man. “First, our value won’t depend on the odd individual opinions of others. They, like us, can only make judgements by what they see happening in their own lives and own limited life experience. But did you notice, real value for a stone is not what it was when it was shut away . Similarly your true value is what you really can become when your inner gifts are revealed and offered, but not just to one, rather to all you meet.”