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Ever since the king changed province boundaries the village prospered. Once an inactive community, new residents moved in, business grew and members of the local council doubled. The village recently received word that for the first time in its history, the king was coming to visit. Not only did the council agree to present the king with a magnificent gift but that there was no other villager than Tolvo who was talented enough to create it.
At the council meeting Tolvo bowed with gratitude. “Well, do you have any ideas, Tolvo? It must be of the finest quality!” “Without question,” Tolvo grandly motioned, “it will be made of black walnut. It is very rare and very hard because the grain is fine but the finish will be lustrous!”
The council authorized Tolvo to venture throughout the province in search of a piece of rare imported black walnut wood unequal in quality and expense.
Rasmus owned the largest lumberyard. He specialized in rare and imported woods and knew Tolvo well. “I haven’t seen black walnut in some time, my friend!” Rasmus rubbed his chin in deliberation, “It is so rare and expensive that few have a demand for it.” Together they wandered the yard carefully inspecting piles of wood for the elusive grain. Irritated, Rasmus argued, “The king won’t know the difference once you have beautifully carved it. Why not use cherry or mahogany?” and he held up a block of red wood
Tolvo furrowed his brow in disapproval and shook his head.
“Well, I can tell you that you won’t find black walnut here or at any other yard. Please consider some of the other beautiful grains I have.” Tolvo looked to the ground and relinquished. “It may seem my aspirations are too grand. I will consider that lovely piece of cherry you hold, although in my heart I know nothing is more appropriate for the king than black walnut.” Entering Tolvo’s focus was a small beam of wood lying in the mud at the base of the pile. He knelt beside it and delicately flecked off its mud in thought, “If only I could have a piece of black walnut! This is exactly the size I require. What type of wood is this?”
“That? I place that old block into the mud and stack the good wood on top of it. While I can’t tell what type of wood it is, I can assure you that it must be of little value if I have used it to protect the other wood.” Rasmus hoisted the cherry beam in approval and began to walk back to his office to complete the transaction. He paused and looked back to see Tolvo still kneeling beside the muddy block. “Take it, my friend! Free of charge! I have no more use for it.” Never one to undervalue wood, Tolvo tucked it under his arm and followed Rasmus.
Once back at his studio, Tolvo curiously examined the block of muddied wood. “It’s the perfect size,” he maintained. Picking up a nearby chisel he gouged at its surface to examine its grain and stepped back with surprise.
“Black walnut!” The grain was tight and the color so rich that it was purplish black. Wide-eyed, Tolvo gingerly placed the block onto his carving table. He unfurled his rolled pouch of chisels and placed several lanterns about his station. His heart was swollen with creativity and he knew he would work through the night.
Three months later the king arrived and was presented with a delicately carved statue of a winged warrior. Onlookers watched as he keenly admired the work. He gently caressed its lustrous surface, smiled with admiration and mumbled, “Magnificent.”
Standing next to Tolvo was Rasmus who leaned into the carver’s ear, “The sculpture is a masterpiece! It is of the most lustrous black walnut I have ever seen! Where did you find it? Surely, it must have cost you a fortune!”
Tolvo looked on at the king’s approval with a perceptive smile and replied, “It materialized from humble purpose without the exchange of money.”
To this day the sculpture resides in the royal palace as a cornerstone attraction of the king’s gallery. Amongst the gold and ivory it is most cherished as a symbol of our own veiled potential.
Achievement has no association with appearance, and yet we tend to measure the potential of something based on what it looks like. We can better serve worldwide accomplishment by reserving judgment of its appearance and getting out of its way.