“If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” The sales representative and I were shooting the breeze about the music business, late this afternoon. I agreed, a little more quickly than I intended to. We commiserated awhile about the difficulties of our chosen field; he wrote a small order for me and then he was gone. He wasn’t the first to voice a similar sentiment today.
The middle aged couple were looking for a few accessories, but as is common, had spent some time in browsing. When I asked if the few items they selected was the extent of what they needed today, the gentleman responded with, “No, I need a lot more, but I just can’t afford it.” When I offered, tongue in cheek, to accompany them to the bank to acquire a loan so they could purchase the entire music store, the fellow retorted, just as tongue in cheek, “No thanks! There’s no money to be made in the music business!” I responded, again a little too quickly, “You’re not telling me anything I haven’t known for the last thirty years!”
“If it was easy…” A few months ago, the Lovely Lady and I stood in the middle of a plowed field that stretched for many acres in all directions. Standing expectantly under the scorching sun, we held an assortment of trowels in our hands and I carried a small cloth bag. Along with a number of other folks, we wandered along the furrows with their clods of dirt strewn hither and yon until we found a likely looking piece of ground and began to attempt to reap the crop which this field was famous for growing.
We were in the famous Crater of Diamonds diamond mine in central Arkansas. It wasn’t at all what I expected. It was, quite literally, a field. The report that diamonds are lying on the ground waiting to be picked up was greatly exaggerated. Oh, I don’t dispute the fact that some people have found diamonds there, even valuable ones. But, they were the exception, not the rule. We found nothing worth mentioning, except some sunburn and a lot of dirt. “If it was easy…”
I almost felt a kinship with the participants of the gold rushes of the nineteenth century. Driven by reports of gold just lying around, waiting to be picked up, thousands sold everything they had and went west in the late 1840s. The only people who got rich were the very lucky and the merchants who sold the foolish treasure seekers the necessities for living…until their money ran out. It wasn’t much different with the Klondike gold rush at the end of that same century. One hundred thousand people headed for certain riches. Only thirty thousand of them arrived. Of that number, less than ten percent found gold. “If it was easy…”
We want things to be easy. We watch skilled craftsmen who make their jobs appear effortless and think, “I could do that!” We view sports events and see the apparent ease with which the athletes achieve their goals and believe that it comes naturally to them. I have sat in numberless auditoriums and marveled at the incredible talent of the musicians, imagining that with the right breaks, it could have been me up on that stage. What we don’t see, and certainly wouldn’t desire to endure, are the endless hours of effort and the incredible self-discipline which these “prodigies” invest in their craft. They work at being the best, day after day, week after week, year after year, just so that we can admire the results, all the while believing that all it takes is the right break, knowing the right people, or being in the right place at the right time. What a joke! “If it was easy…”
Hard work pays off. It’s just that sometimes you have to sift through a ton of dirt to get to the diamond. If you have a dream, you won’t reach it simply by starting on the path to it. You have to persevere. You have to work through the hardships, the ineptness of inexperience, sometimes even the discouragement of people who say it can’t be done. The accountant who told me to stay out of the music business because the “numbers don’t add up” didn’t have the dream to follow. Even today, the numbers don’t add up sometimes, but I’m still following that dream.
Last summer, as the Lovely Lady and I drove up the highway, away from the diamond field, I was amused to see the signs advertising the crystal mines nearby. Their boast was that every customer was guaranteed to find crystals, an obvious swipe at the disappointing diamond mine we had just left. Well, sure. It’s not hard to settle for a shiny crystal. You have to work, and dare, and sweat for the diamonds. “If it was easy…”
Whether you want to achieve some great physical task, or are pursuing some lofty humanitarian goal, or even seeking to reach an honorable spiritual ambition, you’ll never attain it if you don’t give everything you have for it. Anyone can do an average task. That’s why they call it average.
“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it.”
” Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
(Theodore Roosevelt~26th President of the United States~1858-1919)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2012. All Rights Reserved.