There was a quite remarkable man. Not exactly clever, but he was very intelligent. He realised, long ago, that for all the intelligence one could muster, wisdom was always difficult to gain, necessitating struggle and error. He was not an ordinarily handsome man, because he was used to hard work and fine features were not an inheritance passed down to him, by his hard working ancestors. Over the generations, their circumstance and their adaptations to it had rendered their like as rather ordinary in appearance. Sometimes, that cover was useful to disguise their active and agile minds. And so it was for this remarkable man.
His super power was that he could make wondrous things. He could conjure beautiful music and colourful paintings, passionate poetry and lucid prose from seemingly nowhere. With his hands and his imagination, he could make things that had never existed before. He used his inventive mind to discover deep truths and find ways to improve the condition in which humanity felt it was destined to be confined forever. The magic of this remarkable man was that he had the power to change small parts of the world, at a time, to the delight of those that witnessed the feat. He could be redemptive.
With such a super power, he could have been arrogant and overbearing, but he wore his particular gifts as lightly as he was able, always looking for a way to say something mildly amusing and with a slight smile on his face. The one piece of wisdom he carried with him at all times was that everybody is remarkable at something. He was no different. It was just that his super power, when exercised, could be so obvious. In any case, the very deepest truth he knew was that everybody wanted to be loved. For that reason, he always tried to be kind and encouraging, to all he met, because everyone was engaged in some personal struggle or another. He hoped that people would love him in return. Sometimes they did.
One day, he met a very rich and powerful man. The man knew of the remarkable fellow’s reputation and could see advantage in pressing his super powers into his service, for massive personal gain. It was his belief that if he could convince the remarkable man to apply his super powers to making a steady stream of breathtaking, new, dazzling and wondrous things, then he could sell them on, at a handsome profit and enrich himself beyond all measure. All he had to do was convince the remarkable man to take his money to be in his employ.
The rich man arranged a meeting with the remarkable man to offer him his proposition. The remarkable man listened intently. He neither had time for nor interest in trying to sell his amazing creations at a vast profit. To him, they were freely available anyway. He just used his mind and his hands and there they were. That’s not to say he didn’t recognise their value. He also knew that, for all his facility and alacrity in creating his creations, they still required considerable effort and application, on his behalf, to bring into reality. Each one required that he stretch his capabilities, learn and strive to perfect what he previously was not even capable of doing. That is the nature of things that never existed before.
The reason they did not exist before is that nobody had yet reached the level of imaginative thinking, learning and dexterity required to make them exist. Hence, each brand new creation was the culmination of a hard-won, incremental piece of self-improvement, on the part of the remarkable man. He was remarkable only because he continually accepted the challenge and would not let it rest until he had gained the knowledge and skills required, as precursors, to producing the thing that had previously never existed. It was exhausting. It was also exhilarating.
“How much will you value my creations?” asked the remarkable man of the rich man.
The rich man, sensing his advantage in the negotiations at this question, saw the opportunity to offer the remarkable man a mere pittance for his creations. “All the more profit for me,” he thought to himself. So, he pronounced that, although the creations were, indeed, remarkable, a reasonable business man, with costs and overheads to consider and shareholders to please, could only offer a modest sum of money for each item created.
“I didn’t ask you how much you would pay for my creations, I asked how much you will value them”, retorted the remarkable man, drily. “I can see that the very concept of value is foreign to you. You imagine that all value is expressible in money. It is not.”
With this, the remarkable man stood up and prepared to leave. “Wait!” said the rich man. “That was just my negotiating position. I am actually prepared to pay lavish and vast sums of money for each of your creations.” The rich man knew that, even paying extraordinary amounts of money for the creations, they were still so very remarkable and rare, that he could easily make a handsome profit from them anyway.
The remarkable man was unmoved. “I asked how much you would value my creations and still you offer only money. You do not understand. Do you think I would sell a child of mine into servitude and slavery, to be prostituted and abused by you, for any sum of money imaginable? I would not value something so loved and precious in such a derisory and heartless way, but I can see that you are more than prepared to treat my remarkable creations like chattel. You would treat them as disposable, forgettable and worthless. These creations are not turnips, my dear fellow. These are things that never existed before. They are deserving of reverence, protection and respect. A good steward of such creations would nurture and preserve them, maximising their utility and benefit for all and ensure that nothing could wantonly harm or destroy them. I can see that you are not that man.”
“All right,” said the rich man, the panic now rising in his voice, “I’ll give you my house. It’s a fine house, with a splendid view and there are servants. You can have my house as your private pleasure palace and you can create all day long, in peace.”
The remarkable man paused, raised one eyebrow, turned suddenly and was gone.
The rich man never saw the remarkable man ever again.