John and his wife, Mandy, moved to a new house in Sacramento. John discovered a hidden tunnel while playing in the yard with their two kids and gave up his life to mine it for gold. But then Mandy discovered the truth about that tunnel.
This will be our new home, it’s perfect!” John beamed at his wife, Mandy, when they closed on the house. They had two children, Anna and Eric, and Mandy was expecting their third baby, so they needed to move to a bigger place.
“This house is lovely to raise a family. It’s a great neighborhood, and you guys are going to love it,” their realtor, Manuel, said. “I’ve lived in Sacramento all my life, and I wouldn’t want to raise kids anywhere else.”
They both smiled at Manuel and left after signing some paperwork. They finished moving their stuff a couple of months later and settled in their new home. They all loved it, and their children had made friends with some of the neighborhood kids already.
One day, some of them came over, and John played soccer with them in their backyard. Eric kicked the ball beyond the bushes, and John went to find it. But after picking it up, he stumbled on an overgrown patch of weeds.
When he freed his foot, he saw a hidden door. But the kids were calling for him, so John decided to inspect it later. With a flashlight in hand, he took off all the weeds, opened the hatch quickly, and discovered a staircase leading inside.
Upon descending the stairs, he discovered that it led to an empty tunnel, but his flashlight caught a few gold reflections stuck to the wall. Could this be? John marveled at first.
In 1848, a man discovered pieces of gold in the Sacramento Valley, and that event shaped American history. John was a huge history buff, and thought this could be a hidden, untapped mine. He told Mandy about it, but she wasn’t skeptical about it.
“I don’t think there’s any gold in our backyard, but you should probably call your brother James before you start trying to mine an underground tunnel. I don’t want any accidents,” she told him
John agreed, and James came over the next day. They easily grabbed the pieces that reflected in the light during his first visit, but it was difficult to tell if they were gold. They weren’t experts in the matter.
“I don’t know, John. Maybe they’re just golden rocks. This might not be what you’re expecting,” James speculated.
“It has to be. I looked it up last night. We are right at the center of the Gold Rush. But it might not have been discovered well. It’s a small tunnel. They might not have dug enough,” John insisted. So they continued mining with no success.
That night, John searched online and stumbled upon a website that explained how much gold was discovered back then. It showed the amount it would be worth today, and John became even more excited.
But he didn’t want to share his findings with James. This was his house, and therefore, his gold. “I don’t need you to come anymore. You’re right. That tunnel is probably nothing,” John lied to his brother on the phone.
But every day after work, John was down there digging and digging. One time, he even missed work because he stayed there all night and fell asleep on the floor.
“John! This can’t go on anymore! Are you crazy? What if it caves or something? I didn’t even know you were there!” Mandy yelled at him. But John didn’t listen. He was sure they would be rich soon. So he quit his job and continued digging.
The tunnel was massive by the end of the month. Meanwhile, Mandy was worried. She was a stay-at-home mom, and they needed John’s income to live. She started searching through the area’s history, determined to disprove any existence of gold down there.
She looked through the plans of the house, went to the library, and even talked to the neighbors. No one could definitively tell her any vital information. So she called their realtor, Manuel
Is there any more information you might not have disclosed during the sale?” Mandy asked him.
“Why do you ask, Mrs. Barron? Is there something wrong with the house?” he questioned.
“No, it’s just…my husband found a tunnel in the backyard, and he’s convinced it’s a gold mine. He’s become obsessed. He quit his job because he’s sure we’re going to be rich. I’m trying to find anything that can convince him to stop,” Mandy said desperately.
“Oh. Mr. Barron discovered the tunnel? I can help you, ma’am. I didn’t think it would be an issue,” Manuel offered.
What is it?” she wondered.
“It’s better if I go and show you guys myself,” Manuel finished.
He came to their house first thing in the morning before John could go back to mine the tunnel. “Manuel, what are you doing here? Is there something wrong with the paperwork?” John asked him after opening the door.
“No, Mr. Barron. But I have something to show you and your wife,” Manuel began. They sat down, and he pulled out some old pictures. “I grew up in this house, and several generations of my family did too.”
“Oh my god!” Mandy exclaimed.
John was suspicious and frowned at Mandy. “You told Manuel about the gold mine?” Turning to Manuel, he said, “You have no claim to it. You sold me this house fair and square
No, sir. You don’t understand. I don’t want anything in that tunnel because there’s nothing to find. My grandfather originally dug it. He wanted to make a bomb shelter when that whole panic started,” Manuel explained.
“What happened then?” Mandy urged him to continue.
“He never completed the project. But my father and his brothers used it as their secret hideout. When I was a kid, I used to pretend it was a gold mine. I even used gold markers to paint over foil paper and stick them to the walls,” their realtor finished.
John got up and got the “gold pieces” he had found out of a locked box. “You’re telling me that this is foil paper?” he asked Manuel.
I’m sorry to say this, but yes, sir. My grandfather was a history buff. Any gold that could have been here was taken long ago,” Manuel concluded
“You’re not an idiot. You’re a dreamer. We all are. Manuel, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to explain this to us. I’m sure it’ll be a funny story for our family in the future,” Mandy added, smiling
After Manuel left, John went outside and closed the hatch to the tunnel. He never went down there again. Luckily, he got another decent job shortly after and never disregarded his family again.
Also, Mandy was right. Their family laughed about this silly situation for years, particularly during Christmas dinner.
What can we learn from this story?
Obsessions can be dangerous. John put his family in financial peril when he became obsessed with the “gold mine.” Luckily, Mandy helped him before he lost everything.
Riches don’t come easily. There are next to no chances of finding a gold mine in your backyard. Gold doesn’t fall from the sky either.
Branding John as being ‘obsessed’ isn’t appropriate when dealing with the nature and complexity of the human mind.
God created the human mind and imparted in it, a fraction of His ‘creative intelligence and mental energy’ to function peri persu to give it expression.
The human mind is capable of achieving the impossible, by applying the creative intelligence it possesses oftentimes in strange circumstances. It’s not an “obsession” but an expression of “an inherent creative intelligence” It’s well said that “Failure is halfway to Success”
Mr John, in the above story, wasn’t a failure. He only discovered for himself, that gold can’t just be found ‘everywhere.’ rather than be persuaded to give up hopes just because someone says “There’s no hope” No personal discovery is a waste nor a time wasted. Learning is a continuum. If you want to start dying, stop learning.