The right stone

By Paulo Coelho

A man once heard tell that, in a nearby desert, a certain alchemist had lost the result of years of work: the famous philosopher’s stone, which could transform into gold any metal that it touched.
 
Driven by the desire to find it and to become rich, the man went to that desert. Since he did not know quite what the philosopher’s stone looked like, he began picking up every stone he came across; he would then hold it to his belt buckle to see what happened.
 
A year passed, and then another, and still nothing. The man, however, clung obstinately to his desire to find the magical stone. Mechanically, he walked every valley and mountain in the desert, rubbing one pebble after another against his belt buckle.
 
One night, just before going to sleep, he noticed that his buckle had been changed into gold!
 
But which stone had it been? Had the miracle occurred during the morning or the evening? How long had it been, in fact, since he had bothered to check the results of all his efforts? What had started out as a search with a clear objective had become a mechanical, joyless exercise with no real goal. What had started out as an adventure had become dull duty.
 
Now he had no way of finding the right stone, because his belt buckle was already gold and no other transformation could possibly take place. He had followed the right road, but had failed to notice the miracle awaiting him.

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