The land is parched and a man digs a well to find water for his thirsty plants and gardens. He digs for many hours in the place recommended by the water diviner but he finds nothing and gives up in disgust. He has dug about four metres.
As he sits dejectedly on the great mound of earth he’s removed from the hole, a traveller passes by. The traveller laughs at him for digging there, and indicates a much more likely spot. So the man starts a new well, but after digging for several hours, he has still found no sign of water.
Tired and despondent, he finally accepts some different advice from his young neighbour who assures him that he’ll find water in another place altogether. After he’s given up on that one too, his wife comes out of the house and says, ‘Where are your brains, old man? This is no way to sink a well. Stay in one spot and go deeper and deeper there!’
The next day, having slept well and recovered his strength, the man returns to the first hole and spends all his time and concentration in that one place. Soon he finds abundant water deep below the surface. It is not long before his gardens are once again green, thriving, and offering up the rich bounties of nature.
[Adapted from The Salmon of Knowledge: Stories for Life, Work, the Dark Shadow, and OneSelf. Nick Owen. Crownhouse 2009]