The nomad who liked to dig
Long ago, an overly ambitious young nomad was banished from his homeland and forced to navigate through a vast and blistering desert on his own.
He was sent off with a meager allotment of food and water and knew he had to quickly find somewhere to replenish his supplies or he would surely perish from dehydration or starvation.
"This isn't going to be easy", he thought to himself. He looked around for guidance, but saw only blistering white sand in all directions.
Knowing that staying put was not an option, he picked a direction and began walking. Much to his relief, it wasn't long before he saw just what he had been looking for, a paradise with a lake, coconut trees and a few buildings.
By noon, he arrived filled with elation. "This is perfect!" he thought to himself.
He immediately went to the lake looking for refreshment, but quickly discovered that the water was putrid and undrinkable.
Still in good spirits, he collected a few coconuts under the coconut tree. He cracked open the first and discovered it didn't have any meat or juice. He went through each of the others only to discover that they were all as dry as the first.
Hungry, thirsty and dejected, the nomad wandered to the small collection of buildings in search of some reprieve from the oppressive heat. Much to his dismay, the buildings were all empty and had strangely been constructed without any roofs to block out the sun.
"What is this place?" The nomad thought. "None of this is real. Is this some kind of cruel joke?"
Knowing this was not the paradise he was looking for, the nomad decided to move on. He climbed up the side of one of the buildings and scouted his surroundings. Much to his delight, he spotted another promising paradise at the top of a nearby sand dune.
"That place looks amazing! It's far nicer than this dump." thought the nomad as he began his journey.
Shortly after departing the nomad found himself in an enormous sandstorm. Each step was harder than the last. He found himself tasting, hearing and feeling the sand that entered every crevice, seemingly insisting on maximum torment.
The nomad was strong and undeterred, reaching his destination within a few hours. As he walked through his new paradise, he headed directly to the buildings for some protection from the storm. While the buildings provided some needed respite from the sand, they too were empty and roofless just like his last stop.
This didn't much matter to him for now. He was hungry for protection from the storm, rather than the sun which was now setting.
Exhausted from the trials of the day, the nomad decided to lay down and get some rest. He would worry about food, water and shelter tomorrow.
He awoke the next morning with the sun peaking out above the horizon. "Ok, let's go get some food and water" the nomad thought to himself.
As he wandered through his new paradise, it didn't take long for him to discovered it was just a fancier version of his last destination. The water wasn't drinkable, the food didn't satiate and the shelter didn't provide much protection.
The nomad had a strong belief he'd be able to find the paradise he was searching for and quickly decided to move on. The next place was even more beautiful, but didn't offer any better conditions.
On and on the nomad roamed in pursuit of ever more promising paradises. None were able to quench his thirst, fill his belly or offer relief from the sun.
It took many years for the nomad to achieve perspective on his journey. He was so busy going from one promising paradise to the next that he had never stopped to ask himself why he was doing it. After all, no matter how grand the paradise, he wasn't able to last long before he was compelled to move on for some real nourishment.
Upon his realization, the nomad was overcome with disillusionment. He decided he would abandon the folly his search and settle for the unfulfilling conditions of the paradise he found himself in.
As he went to sleep that night, he was certain that his remaining days were numbered. By abandoning his search, he would no longer have the water or food he needed to survive.
The nomad awoke to the heavy feeling of hopelessness. He looked into his canteen expecting it to be empty, but much to his surprise, there was enough to get him through the day. He then looked into his bag expecting it to be empty, but was again surprised to find enough food to get him through the day.
"That's strange, I swore I went to sleep without any more water or food, yet here I have enough." the nomad thought to himself.
He spent his day wandering aimlessly around his empty oasis wallowing in his self pity.
As he laid down for the night, the nomad was again certain that he would begin the next day without any food or water, and that his remaining days were numbered.
When the next morning arrived, the nomad looked into his bag to discover that his water and food had again been replenished with just enough to get through the day. The nomad looked in disbelief wondering if he was going crazy.
Day after day, he was given a new supply of water and food. Having no understanding of the source of the daily replenishment, the nomad became ever more miserable, expecting that the mysterious supplier would surely abandon him soon. Until one day on his daily walk, he spotted a shovel he'd somehow never seen before.
"That's strange" he thought to himself "How is it possible I've never seen this before? I've been here for years wandering this same path."
That night as he lay down to sleep, he experienced a feeling he hadn't had had in years -- excitement. He knew he was going to begin digging the next day and could hardly stand the anticipation
The next morning, he had his breakfast and then immediately picked a spot and started digging.
He dug for days and days. Despite never finding anything of use, he felt a duty to his daily excavation. Before long, the hole was so deep that he knew he needed a ladder to get down to the bottom.
On the next day, he discovered a ladder lying right next to the dig site. Baffled, yet encouraged by his find, he found increased enthusiasm for his dig.
As the nomad dug, he was often confronted with thoughts about whether he was going mad. After all, what grown man digs a hole, let alone continue to dig without finding anything of use in the sand?
Yet, day by day, the nomad continued to be given new tools that helped him expand the size and depth of his hole.
With his hole at 100 feet deep, the nomad now had to take a pulley elevator to get to the bottom and to lift the sand to the top. The elevator had been constructed over the past few months using tools that had been mysteriously given to him along the way like the shovel that started the whole thing off.
From the beginning of the dig, the nomad had always dreamed of what it would be like to get to 100 feet. Having reached this seemingly impossible goal, he sat at the bottom and looked up in awe at what he had accomplished.
As he allowed the gravity of his project to envelop him, he had a realization that dramatically shifted his perspective. While his daily allotment of water and food hadn't changed at all over the years, he couldn't remember the last time that his thirst or hunger had caused him any concern.
He smiled and joked to himself, "I guess it was depth that I had been craving all along."
As he resumed his digging, he discovered something completely unexpected -- an ancient door. He opened the door and peered in. He immediately knew that this is what he'd been thirsting for all along.