Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Diamonds In The Rough

     We all love diamonds.  They’re pretty shiny things, and everyone knows they have great value, and it’s nice to be seen in their company.  These once dull rocks that were formed over thousands of years from pieces of compressed coal are offered to sweethearts the world over, and that gift has come to symbolize an act of love.  After being polished to a high sheen, these ultimate tokens of affection are given to women who wear them with pride, and everyone agrees they have great and lasting worth.  As a matter of fact, the saying goes, “Diamonds are forever.”
     We are much the same about people.  We adore the star, we strain and struggle to be friends with the gifted athlete or the special singer, or any of those we might refer to as the ‘talented ones.’  Those are the diamonds - they shine - and it’s nice to be seen in their company.  Everyone agrees they will go far, and that they have great promise, and we tell them so. The coach likes them, all the teachers treat them as if they were special, and we know they will do well.  It really takes no special talent to recognize them - they are easy to spot.  And ain’t it a shame that description doesn’t fit you and me?  
     Yep, it’s sad but true that most of us would never call ourselves ‘diamonds,’ but rather just plain old ordinary rocks.  Plain stones – just old plain stones.  Ah, well…some people have it and some don’t, right?  That’s just the way it is, and if only we had their personality, their athletic ability, their voice - or talent - then we too could be sought after, well thought of, and special.  If only there was something special about us… 
     Actually there is.
As unbelievable as it may seem, there really is.  We yearn for just a ray of hope, but there is not only a ray, there is a light so bright we can hardly stand to look at it.  There is so much in all of us that we are afraid to let our light shine.  Most of us never even consider letting it out because if we did others might laugh, they might make fun and point fingers.  Others would say, “That’s awful.” Or they would sneer and say, “Who are you to think you can do thatDon’t you know thousands of people have gone broke doing that?”  If we dared tell people who and what we really are, surely they would shake their heads from side to side, and say our name very slowly three times as in, “Mary, Mary, Mary…you need to be realistic, you’ve always been a such a dreamer.”
     And it’s taken me years to learn this, but the only difference between all us old plain ordinary stones and the diamonds is that those who became diamonds had the courage to try.  And guess what people said to them when they did?
     “That’s awful!”
     “Who are you to think you can do that?”
     “You will never make it in this business.”
     And they did it anyway, and turned from a plain stone into a diamond.  Just ordinary people who chose to do extraordinary things with their days…people just like you and me.
     It takes courage to try, and the lion in the Wizard of Oz thought he didn’t have that quality, but as the lion discovered, he did.  And the Tin Man had a heart, and the Scarecrow had a mind.  We are the same.  We are stronger than we think.  We are more than we know.
     And not only are we more than we know, but perhaps the best and most rewarding thing we can do is help others come to that same awareness.  Rebecca says, “The best thing in life is to take an underdog, and help them become a showdog!”   Someone did that magical thing for most of us, and we should never miss an opportunity to do the same for another.  We are unaware of the power we have to be a force in the lives of others.  A teacher once told me of a fifth-grade student who confided her dream and heart’s desire…
     “I want to be a doctor,” whispered the child with eyes full of hope.
     “My heart broke for her,” the teacher said as she weaved the tale.  “This little girl was certainly not intelligent enough for such a rigorous career, and her family was just dirt poor, but…” and her eyes teared at the memory.  “But,” she continued, “I simply could not bring myself to tell this child the truth.  I knew I should tell her this was an impossible choice for many reasons, but I could not.  For the rest of her school years, she continued to tell me about the dream, and all the people she would help, and my dishonesty filled me with shame.  I knew I should tell her the truth, but I just couldn’t,” and she paused wiping her eyes again. 
     “Years later at a conference, this beautiful woman approached me, and after giving me a big hug, asked if I knew who she was.  I had to confess that I did not, but after looking into her eyes, I saw that little fifth-grader.  Then she told me I was the reason she was a doctor.”
     “Oh, dear,” the teacher said.  “You must not give me credit for that.  I never told you that you could.”
     “I know,” said the physician.  “But you were the only one who never told me I couldn’t.”
So it is with fifth-graders and some horses we think might never make it, and so it is with most of us.  Some times we get lucky and a special human being comes into our life who isn’t so interested in diamonds, but these special people are looking for something else.  They are looking for people like you and me. Not the shiny ones with all the early talent, but people like you and me.  And let’s all commit for this coming year to be one of those who never tell another they cannot.  Let’s all spend our days looking for and encouraging people like you and me…diamonds in the rough. 

     “Before I met you, I was just standing over there rusting for the longest time.”
                                                                          The Tin Man to Dorothy

                                                                              The Wizard of Oz


       Michael's latest release, Reflections Of A Cowboy, is currently available in audio book form. The two volume set consists of articles, essays and excerpts from radio performances about good people and good horses in the life of an Oklahoma cowboy. Approximately 8 hours in length. Reflections Of A Cowboy in printed form is scheduled for release in the summer of 2005. Order from Michael's website.

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