A PIECE OF COAL that once lived in a sack felt useless and had gotten tired of waiting to be thrown to the fire. To pass his time, he used to draw paintings on the sack’s fabric, which no one appreciated as they looked like smudges.
One autumn day, however, the house lord thought of throwing coal to the fireplace and approached the sack. As soon as the piece of coal saw him, he jumped straight out of the sack with enthusiasm. “If it’s feeling useful that you want, only hard work will bring you true satisfaction”, told him a log that happened to sit by the fireplace and quietly wait its turn to be thrown to the fire.
When our good piece of coal heard it, he felt excited. So, he jumped right in the fireplace and placed himself next to the other pieces, where he “worked hard” to get the house lord’s steaks cooked on time. As it was his first job, he even made sure to put as much effort as possible on it, so the steaks’ meat would become as tender and juicy as possible.
As soon as the house lord tasted them, he enjoyed them to the last bite. Then the logs and the other pieces of coal congratulated our hard-worker. Yet, he was rather let down. “It’s not much of an achievement, to be honest”, the piece of coal murmured and decided to find some other job that would offer more satisfaction.
He then decided to leave the house, in search of something more fitting. He walked and walked, and whenever he met other pieces of coal on his way, they all invited him to help them keep their stoves’ warm. So, he visited one house after another to prove his worth. Nowhere did he find a stove that would get him tired enough so as to ‘consume’ him for good, however.
Eventually, he came across a train that was still using coal as fuel. What excited him more was the train’s big engine that required tons of coal to be kept in service. Filled with enthusiasm, our good coal piece gave a big jump and sat right beside the other pieces of coal on the train, which already looked tired from the many hours they had been working non-stop. As soon as the train departed, he gave his best self: he sweated and labored, and made sure that he worked so hard that the other pieces of coal would have no choice but to admire him.
Many days later, however, and when the train eventually reached its destination, the coal was yet to be consumed. He got so disappointed that he thought of returning back to the sack from which he had jumped off at the beginning of our story, and never bother with anything again.
“What you can’t find in the most pressing job, is perhaps what you will find in the most demanding art”, a painter told him. He then grabbed the piece of coal and pressed him against a white canvas, on which he drew all sorts of beautiful shapes. As usual, our good coal piece gave his best self, yet this time something extraordinary happened: the more the painter pressed him against the canvas, the more passionate the piece felt about drawing, until in the end, the painter ended up being driven by him.
Many hours later, the piece of coal felt completely ‘consumed’, to the point where there was barely any black color left to apply on the canvas. The drawing he delivered to the painter was a perfect masterpiece, and the round of applause he got from the other pieces of coal was by far the loudest and most enthusiastic he had gotten so far.