Early one morning, just as the sun is rising and throwing its gentle light through the bars of the one window that graces his prison cell, Armand is awakened by a sound he has never heard before. He knows immediately that it isn’t coming from the ocean that lies somewhere outside the prison walls; the sound of its waves and the wind that carries them to his ears have become his only friends, even though he can see neither of them due to the height of his cell window. His mind races; a faint smile comes over his face as he thinks I must be losing my mind. But there it is again, only louder; there can be no doubt about it: a distinct scratching noise is coming up from out of the hard dirt floor of his cell.
A heartbeat later, the ground farthest away from the cell window starts moving, and, in another instant, it breaks wide open and from out of it pops, like a gladiola, a head with long hair and a beard.
Before Armand can say a word, the man silences him and says, “Hush! Don’t be afraid. My name is Edmond. I have much to explain, and we haven’t much time! I’m one of several political prisoners living here who has been digging an escape tunnel for over two years now. Just beyond the walls of your cell sits the ocean—and our way out of this hellhole.”
He pauses long enough to make sure that Armand is getting the big picture.
“We’ve tunneled as far as we can without being caught, so now it’s on your shoulders. Are you following me?”
Armand shakes his head as if to say no, but Edmond continues on anyway.
“Listen to me carefully—that is, if you want to get out of this place alive. Here’s what remains to be done.”
Shaking the dirt from his hair, Edmond rises slightly out of the hole he’s standing in, raises his arm, and points his finger towards the wall in Armand’s cell that has the window in it.
“Dig six feet down from right there, head due east, and less than two hundred yards from that spot is freedom for all of us!”
Armand says, “Yes … yes, I will do it! Anything to see my friends and family again.”
To which Edmond responds, “Great! I’ll check back with you by the new moon—sooner if it’s safe to do so.”
Sometime later, again just before sunrise, Edmond pops his head back up through the floor in Armand’s cell and, using only his eyes, asks how things are going. Armand smiles broadly and says, proudly, “I’ve done it!”
Edmond quietly exclaims, “Good heavens, that was fast!” And, without wasting a moment, he climbs out of his hole, races across the cell, and dives into the opening of the new tunnel he had asked Armand to dig. Less than five minutes later, Edmond pops back up out of the hole with a look of sheer horror on his face.
“By all that’s holy, man, what have you done?”
Armand looks at Edmond, wondering what his problem is, somewhat shocked at his negative reaction. “What do you mean? What’s wrong?”
“Do you remember what we discussed—what I told you to do? Do you?”
Not waiting for Armand to answer, Edmond continues. “I told you to dig in the direction towards the ocean. The tunnel you’ve dug leads directly back into the center of the prison yard!”
Armand just looks at him for a moment and says, as if it makes all the sense in the world, “Yes, I know, but the digging was easier in that direction.”
Here’s the real reason why it’s so important to always go the extra mile—to do what you don’t want to do or feel like you can’t do—whenever it comes to your work to be free: there is no other way for you to make contact with, and then call upon, an indwelling limitless resource that will only reveal itself to you after you’ve exhausted your own.