In My Own Backyard


During a recent session of online wandering I stumbled across a beautiful bit of history and so took a little break to revisit Acres of Diamonds by Russell H. Conwell. At my father’s urging, years ago I read the paperback version of this famous lecture, and revisiting it was just like the first time – thought-provoking and in some ways a bit confusing!
Conwell is insightful, wry and funny and he pulls from his own experiences and connections with an incredible variety of influential historical figures during his lifetime from 1843-1925. He does such a great job of packing a vast array of lessons and history into 37 short pages that I’d be presumptuous to try to condense these into a blog-friendly package – just read it!!! I will say that for me, the overriding message is that opportunity and abundance, even happiness, are here for us, right where we live. Conwell gives amazing, real life (and maybe some fable) examples of people giving up their families, businesses and lives to search far and wide for riches and success while missing what is right in front of them. In one case, literally walking away from “acres of diamonds” and several others figuratively missing life’s treasures available to them if they only opened their eyes or thought about their circumstances just a bit differently.
As I struggled against my ‘sound bite’ sized attention span to make it through the entire 37 pages (!), my mind drifted off into an exercise of trying to define the current boundaries of my own backyard. Conwell’s stories highlight jewels, untapped markets, and other riches overlooked even as they sat outside someone’s back door, or walked right by in front of a struggling business. In this age of unlimited information and screen-sized adventures at our fingertips, what, and where, is my ‘here and now’? The next interesting e-book, blog post or self-improvement video series could be just the latest version of the greener grass on the other side. Or maybe the whole big accessible world, physical and digital, is my oyster and its far-flung pearls—or diamonds—are meant to be scooped up.
There’s a lot to take away from this writing and I’ll revisit it again someday. This time around I’m claiming the lesson of gratitude. Conwell’s first example roped me right in – Ali Hafed, a successful and happy man who had been “contented because he was wealthy and wealthy because he was contented” learned about diamonds, which he did not have, and their great value. Despite his riches, Hafed “went to his bed that night a poor man. He had not lost anything, but he was poor because he was discontented, and discontented because he feared he was poor.” In that state of mind, things did not turn out well for old Hafed.
Life moves fast and I don’t know what’s next.  I do know that I have blessings galore in my family, friends and opportunities to make a difference in my part of this great world.  For today I’ll focus on living happily and content, exploring the world at large using all the amazing access available today, and still making the most out of the diamonds that I can reach out and touch, and hug, right here in my own backyard.



55 and Change blogger, Laura, is loving life! She embraces the freedom that this age and stage allows. She is married to Paul, a very loving, supportive (and patient!) man and they have a large, close-knit family, most of whom live nearby. She is a daughter, a sister and aunt, a mother of two wonderful children and grandmother of two adorable little sweethearts. She loves to work hard in a business about which she is very passionate. Blogging is a pursuit that stretches her out her comfort zone and satisfies a long neglected creative urge.

(3) Comments

  • Amy
    November 2, 2015 at 12:14 am

    So intriguing! I’m going to locate this lecture – love your insights 🙂
    Sounds like your cup is overflowing! Yeah!

  • Guest Blogger Jim Fox
    Miss X
    November 2, 2015 at 1:05 am

    Amy the lecture is linked to the blog – click on Acres of Diamonds in the first paragraph!

    • Amy
      November 2, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      Found it! Good job!!

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