A young man stepped out his door to seek his fortune and leave his mark on the world. As he was leaving the beautiful valley in which he’d been raised, he began to look more closely at the things he’d taken for granted his whole young life. There were the pine covered mountains, the old homesteads, the barns and the cattle, the dirt roads, the dogs and cats, the deer in the pastures grazing with the horses. The scene was peaceful and serene.
Then he looked closer. All around, apparently unnoticed by others, were strewn small bits of trash and discards. He hadn’t seen these things before. It took a closer look to notice because the other parts had seemed so beautiful. Now that he saw those things, he couldn’t bear to leave. Something in him wouldn’t let him leave until he did what he could to make his lovely valley even more lovely for those who lived here.
He set down his bags and emptied a sack and began to pick up the debris and discards. People came out of their homes to watch as he worked and worked all that day then went home at night to rest. The next morning he began where he’d left off.
People came out of their houses early that next morning and saw him working again. He moved down the main street and more people came out to see what he was doing. Some watched for a while, then joined in.
The next day saw the young man again working, and more watched him and joined in. Another day saw the word spread and more joined in. Within a few days most people in the valley were outside picking up, cleaning up and making even more beautiful their surroundings.
People traveling from outside, coming to see the beautiful valley they’d heard so much about, saw all the people working, picking up and cleaning up an already beautiful valley and they were inspired. They went home and picked up and cleaned up where they lived. Others seeing their work, joined in, and it continued to spread . . .
Finally, in the small valley, the young man finished his work. He was happy. He took up his bags to leave and make his mark on the word . . . not realizing he already had.