On an autumn day in 1785, three young boys tied their rowboat to the shore of Oak Island, a tiny circle of earth off the coast of Nova Scotia. As they explored the island forest, they happened upon a giant old oak tree with a sawed limb – not broken by a natural force, but clearly sawed by a tool. Even more peculiar was the depression in the ground directly under the amputated limb. Treasure!
They revisited the island with tools to unearth the treasure that was surely buried beneath the disfigured oak. They dug. And dug. Only to have a deep hole to show for their sweat and blisters. At about ten feet they struck a solid wood platform. They were within inches of riches! But below the platform was ten more feet of hard earth and yet another platform. At thirty feet and the third platform, the young team of treasure seekers reached the end of their patience and abilities.
In the many years that followed their discovery, hundreds of treasure hunters visited the oak with dreams of gold and silver, only to be greeted with obstacles. Thick platforms. Clay. Stone barricades. Some hunters were even said to have succumbed to poison gases. Still they came. And dug. Every time they were certain the next shovel of earth would reveal fortune, another obstacle halted their ambitions.
For decades, the search continued until late one night, at the depth of 95 feet, a marker, thought to be the door to the treasure, was found. Exhausted from the day’s labor, the crew slept with visions of vast booty enriching their slumber. In the morning, they awoke to a hole filled with sixty feet of sea water. Again, the island and ancient oak would not relinquish the treasure.
Fortunes have been lost in the hunt. Yet, more than two centuries after the discovery of the sawed oak, treasure seekers still plot and scheme and dream. And dig.
So why tell this story here? Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch, (it most certainly is a long way to make a small point), but the creative process is kind of like the search on Oak Island. It begins with an unwavering belief that a treasure, or in this case, a brilliant concept, can be unearthed. The path to conceptual riches is riddled with obstacles. Budgets. Deadlines. Approvals. Insecurities. Doubt. Yet the digging goes on. And on.
Of course, the difference between the hunt on Oak Island and the one waged at computers daily, is that our treasure can often be seen. At times, we can even reach in and grab a big handful. Those are times of giddiness and joy. Of wealth and riches. Those are the times that keep us digging. And digging.