"I've had two profoundly humbling days in my life.” he began. “The first was the day my son was born. The second was that unforgettable day at the auction house."
This was David’s answer to the question I had asked a group of learners during a session I was guiding, “When in your life have you set a big goal and had no idea at the time how you were going to make it happen?” David - a stocky, denim-clad, kind-eyed fellow hadn’t said much during the first three days of our session, until he heard this question. In that moment David’s physiology changed. He became energized and animated from head to toe.
David stood up, shoved his hands in his pockets, and began to tell us a story. “Many generations before I was born, our family’s eighty-acre farm was separated and willed to a distant relative. We were heartbroken. I come from a long line of farmers, so I’ve heard this story over and over since I was a small child. These stories fueled a passion within me my entire life to make the family farm whole again.”
Fast forward to a number of years ago when David and his family learned that their longed-for eighty acres was going to be sold at auction within a short couple of weeks. Suddenly, at the ripe old age of twenty-something, David needed to figure out how to find an extraordinarily large sum of money. "Even though I had dreamed of getting the land back for as long as I could remember, when the day came, I wasn't ready."
He knew in his heart though, he had to give it his very best effort - and after two weeks of sleepless nights, meticulous planning and creative thinking, he and his father came up with their ‘best number’ and headed for auction.
When they walked through the door of the auction house that night their hearts immediately sunk. The place was packed to capacity with more than two hundred farmers, most of whom had much larger farms, more resources, and could outbid he and his father many times over. The Auctioneer called the session to order and asked for the first bid. David and his dad looked at each other in the eye, took a collective deep breath, and made their bid. The auctioneer acknowledged their bid, and then proceeded to call for the next bid.
A deafening silence falls over the room.
After many attempts to solicit another bid, the auctioneer called for a break. When they reconvened, a second bid was once again called for.
Three times they took breaks, each time the room remained completely silent. Finally, the auctioneer had no choice but to award David and his father the winning bid. The family farm was whole once again. David and his father were stunned. And humbled.
The expression on David’s face, and the emotion in his voice, as he told us his story will be etched in my mind forever. The other participants and I couldn’t help but lean forward, hanging on his every word. After David finished his story I asked him what he thought had occurred in the auction house that night, and without missing a beat, he looked at me with an intensity in his eyes and replied, “Respect.”
Taking our cue from the farmers in the auction house, the participants and I sat in silence for many moments as we contemplated David’s answer. I remember thinking, “There it is, there’s another example of what’s right with our world. Community.”
There are enough of us out there collecting stories of what’s going wrong with our world. I want to be a collector of stories like this one. Stories that remind me there is far more ‘right’ going on out there than there is wrong.
Dewitt says, “If we believe it, we’ll see it.” I agree, and the more I believe there will be an endless stream of stories to gather that show how good people are…the more I seem to find them.