The Beauty in a Lump of Coal

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coalWhen asked what I would do if I hit the lottery, my answer has always been the same: I would be a perpetual student. I would enroll in school and thoroughly study every area that interests me; not because I want a list of degrees nor out of a desire to make money with those degrees, but because I find knowledge empowering and intoxicating.

Lately, however, I’ve been learning that knowledge can be dangerous. It can cause personal conflict and complicate situations that, on the surface, are simple or easy or fun. As I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to realize that knowing the whole truth can be a real bummer. And so, I wrote this statement on my Facebook page about two weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since:

Don’t look for what you don’t want to find. 

I suppose my statement is similar to the notion that ignorance is bliss, a concept I’ve always had a hard time embracing. Ignorance, to me, has always been the mechanism for producing fools. But on a personal level, I’m beginning to believe that there’s something to be said for the face value. It’s simple. If you like what you see, great! If you don’t, move on. There’s no misunderstanding, no complexity, no need to prove worth or value. A situation or relationship is always just as it appears.

Here’s the problem with all of that: I can’t do it.

So, what to do? I went back and reread my statement. Suddenly, an answer came…right in the actual words.  The statement doesn’t say “don’t look.” It says not to look for what we don’t want to find. So, instead of looking for negative things, maybe the answer is to look for the good things in other people; those qualities that draw us closer and help to build a relationship based on true admiration. Remember that on the surface, a block of coal is just a dirty, dark lump of rock. But if we break open the coal looking to find something worthwhile, a diamond might be revealed. Instead of focusing on the way people fall short, maybe the happiness in a relationship comes from honoring the talents and assets of a person and celebrating those. There’s nothing foolish about that.



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