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Infinite Opportunities

A life lesson can be learned from this story.

Every moment, every human activity, is an opportunity to connect with the Infinite. It is only your will that may stand in the way. But as soon as you wish, you are connected.—Bringing Heaven Down To Earth

Everyone knew George and Cynthia Stetson. George sat on the board of several public companies and Cynthia was well-known for her extensive charitable work. Together, they had just won the "Entrepreneur Couple of the Year Award" from a prestigious and very secretive "52 society," run by a group of great dignitaries.

Mark Manahan, a 22-year-old student, worked during his free time as an au pair at the Stetson home. Young Mark had a deep love for music. Every moment he had away from his study or work, he would spend in music.

Both George and Cynthia took a liking to young Mark. He was honest, responsible and had fine and admirable character traits, and was always on time. But perhaps the most important to the Stetsons, their teenage son Sam looked up to Mark. He always seemed to have the correct approach and the words to get their 14-year-old son Sam to do the right thing. One day, George called young Mark into his study.

"You are really a great kid," George said. "And I was thinking how I really want to give you a jump start in your career. This coming Monday morning, I will be heading to my Palm Springs estate, where I have an art collection that I have been developing for the past 40 years. I have decided to give you the opportunity to come with me, and you will have exactly one hour to claim any of my art possessions as yours. The hour will begin at exactly 10 in the morning and promptly end at 11. Anything you take out the doors during that hour will belong to you."

"Mr. Stetson," said Mark. "This is so very kind of you but totally not necessary. You pay me well and you treat me with such kindness. Thank you, but no thank you."

People do not say no to George. So after a long discussion, with George telling Mark how he was being given a great opportunity at a young age, Mark agreed. The meeting was set for Monday.

"Make sure you come with a big truck so you can fit everything you get in one trip,” said George as he bid farewell to Mark.

It did not take long for Mark to realize this was indeed a great opportunity. Mark had made detailed plans on what he was going to do with the proceeds of his gift. It included Mark helping out his parents, paying off his student loan and starting his big dream of beginning a state-of-the-art music program for special-needs kids. What Mark did not know was that the acquisition of this wonderful gift would prove to be far from a walk in the park.

Mark enlisted a buddy who owned an old Chevy, and off they were early Monday morning, to the Stetson estate in the desert.

When the clock hit the 10 o'clock hour and the doors opened, Mark entered. With much excitement, he saw with his first glance the magnificent art adorning the walls. As he was about to reach for the first piece of art, the sudden sound of the most ethereal and magnificent music began to fill the rooms. Mark had always been a big music fan, but the music he was now hearing was so awesome and beautiful, he could do nothing but stop and listen.

Indeed, George Stetson had hired the most gifted musicians of the Philharmonic. He offered them a huge reward if they could captivate Mark to the degree that he leaves with nothing.

As the music stopped for a moment, it felt like only seconds had passed since Mark had entered the house. Mark took a quick look at his watch and to his great surprise, it was already 10:30. He quickly gathered himself to go see what items he could take, when suddenly the musicians were joined by another group, and before he knew it, Mark was swept away in the brilliance of the composition that sounded to him as if it had just landed from a higher dimension.

As the magnificent arrangement came to a close, and the musicians began walking out the door, Mark attempted to carry the original Picasso that was before him.

"I am so sorry, Mr. Manahan," the butler told Mark. "But it is already 11 o'clock. I have been instructed to tell you that whatever you have removed from the home before 11 o'clock is Mr. Stetson's gift to you. Everything else must remain."

Indeed, George did give Mark the gift of a lifetime, only it was very different than what Mark was expecting. It was a lesson that Mark would share with others, for years to come; about the daily opportunities we have in life, the limited time we have to achieve them and the strength that it takes to remain focused.


Mr. Malibu November 19, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Dear Rabbi Cunin, Thank you for this intriguing story I have never heard before. I am very passionate about story management in connection with power of the spoken word. The glaring irony to me is that "Mark would share with others, for years to come" .. Mark's learning re: opportunities, limited time, & strength to remain focused- his STORY about what happened that day could be creating more of what he doesn't want since every time he tells it, it is associated with a negative feeling of not receiving the valuable art. If he were to change that story to something like "this event showed me how much I love music, and what an example of how appreciation in the heart is more valuable than money. George showed me in a most dramatic way where my true passion really is and because of the way he did it, I am even more focused on manifesting my greatest music expression possible." He could still keep the valuable lesson about remaining focused in his story while incorporating story elements that serve to take him to his highest potential. So in reading your story about his story and my story about his story, I really could connect with the infinite!
Rabbi Levi Cunin November 20, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Dear Mr. Malibu, Indeed you make a strong point. I have adopted this story from one that I heard in my youth, where the characters involved was a King who invited his servant to a one hour opportunity to take from the treasures of the King. In the metaphor, our souls are invited to the “treasury” of our Maker, which just happens to be right here on earth! The great treasures lay within our ability to produce a profound light that can only be produced as long as we are living the “body and soul experience”. Only when we are alive can we be kind. Only while we are alive, do we have the ability to lift another person’s spirit. Indeed, the very journey of life is our “hour” of being in the “Kings treasury” where we have the opportunity to fill our beings with the infinite light that accompanies acts of goodness and kindness. Concurrently, as these great possibilities lay right before us, all of the time, there is a strong “distraction” that pulls our attention away from the most important beauty of all; the power of goodness and kindness. Indeed, in my adoption, the contrast in the choices available, are less clear. Thank you for pointing it out. And for opening my eyes to another lesson in the lesson:)

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