There was once a village at the base of a great mountain where beautiful trees grew and where clear waterfalls gave the people of the village life. The branches of the trees on the lower elevation of the mountain provided most of the villagers with sturdy walking sticks, which they enjoyed using. The people happily climbed the mountain to find the finest branches with which to carve their sticks, staffs and canes from the soft green wood of these trees. The shorter staffs made it easier to climb the mountain where these trees grew and while many people enjoyed spending their time climbing up to the trees, most enjoyed hiking around the village with their canes and walking sticks.

There were, of course, some villagers who wanted to climb higher and explore more of the mountain. They found out soon enough that their staffs were not strong enough to rely on as they put their entire weight on their staffs to make the steeper climbs. Some gave up and went back down while some pressed onward. After some time, those villagers who had climbed higher discovered other trees, whose red wood was much denser than the softer green wood of the trees below. When they finally returned to the village, they showed their sturdier staffs to as many as would come and see them. Many laughed and said that the extra climb was not worth the effort and that their own canes were sufficient for their everyday tasks in the village. But some people desired sturdier wood for their daily walks and climbs and so they made the climb to the higher elevation to obtain the sturdier red branches.

Before long there were divisions in the village. The vast majority had green walking sticks from the trees with the softer wood. The minority of the villagers had their red walking and climbing sticks from the denser trees. Some of these people in the minority prided themselves with their sturdier staffs and a few even avoided anyone with sticks made of the softer green wood. They were considered arrogant by the rest of the villagers who owned green walking sticks. The owners of the red sticks resented being considered arrogant for they only wished to share why the sturdier sticks were more desirable. After a time, however, many of those with the red sticks stopped making their regular hikes up the mountain, but stayed home to pursue idle activities. There were some few who still enjoyed their hikes either to the lower elevations or the elevations higher up. Some of those who owned red sticks who stopped climbing occasionally teased those who still enjoyed their daily climbs, considering it an unnecessary use of time. Besides, everyone could enjoy the beautiful scenery, which the mountain provided and enjoy its bounty equally.

One day, a man from the village gazed at the peak, which was rarely visible through the clouds high above. He decided to make the dangerous climb to the top despite the laughter and ridicule of everyone else in the village. Very few in the village’s history had ever made it back with anything to show for it. He took his climbing staff and began his ascent. He encountered many nearly impassable rocky ledges and sheer walls that without his staff, he could not have made it. After a great many days, he returned bruised and beaten from the near impossible journey. On his way home, he encountered some friends. At their request, he described the perilous journey including the path, which had been so overgrown by vegetation from almost never having been used.

The next day, his friends visited him and had brought others to hear about his experience. As they sat listening, he reached for a pouch, which hung from around his neck and rested on his chest. He opened the flap and took out a beautiful small stone, which fit perfectly in the palm of his hand. They had never seen a stone like it and envied him. None existed in or around the village near and far. He explained that there were more just like it but they could only be found at the top of the mountain. In fact, there were more than enough for each villager if anyone wished to climb to the top and obtain one.

One of his friends asked him about the view at the top. Others inquired further about the precious stones and how they had gotten there or if someone had made them and put them there. Some doubted that he ever made it to the top at all and found the stone elsewhere. After their questioning, he invited them all to make the journey themselves and experience what he had experienced. Because he had declined to relate everything that he saw and heard, another accused him of being arrogant, which saddened him. They all agreed that it was not necessary to climb the mountain just to have a stone, regardless of how desirable it was and they departed. The next day, word spread throughout the village about the precious stone, which he carried around his neck near his heart. Thereafter, most of the villagers avoided him. Life in the village continued as before, some resenting others because of their finer staffs and most resenting the man with his precious stone. Once in a great while, a villager would gaze at the peak of the mountain and make the perilous journey and return after a great many days with a precious stone.