Once a young boy from the city visited his grandfather in mountains. Early one morning, before the sun came up, the grandfather took the boy through a tangled mountain trail to a place upon the mountain slope.
“Grandfather, why are we here?” asked the boy.
“Wait and you will see,” said the grandfather.
The boy need not wait long before The sun dawned, revealing a mountainous enclave surrounded by seven misting waterfalls. The boy was so moved by the sight he hugged his grandfather and stayed at his side until the sun rose higher and the magic of the morning vanished.
Then the boy cried.
“Why are you weeping?” asked the grandfather.
“I will leave you soon,” said the boy. “What if I never see this valley again?”
That night, before the boy went to bed, he decided upon a plan. He would paint the valley so that he would remember it always.
Morning after morning the boy returned to the valley to watch the morning flood into valley and fill it with golden light. And morning after morning he would paint. But never could he capture the beauty of the seven waterfalls. Never could he recreate the golden glow of the mist rising from the valley’s center.
“How goes your painting?” asked the grandfather.
The boy put his head in his hands. “Grandfather,” he said. “I will never be able to paint the valley.”
The next morning, his last morning, the boy woke early to prepare for his journey to the valley. But when he rose, he found grandfather already risen, preparing a pack of paints and brushes.
And again the boy and his grandfather walked the tangled path through the mountain to the landing where he had come his first day to the mountains. The Grandfather took the boy’s paints and canvass and easel, set them in place, and sat there waiting for the morning light.
Yet, he did not wait in stillness. By light of the moon the grandfather worked. His hands moved as if they were dancing. So quick were his movements, so sure were his strokes. The white canvass transformed. It filled with dull greens and browns and blues. And the boy watched and waited.
Then the grandfather stopped painting and did not move.
“What are you waiting for?” asked is grandson.
“I am waiting for the light,” said the grandfather.
The sun rose, and, just as it always had, enchanted the valley. The grandfather moved quickly. Different colors burst upon the canvass, yellow, gold, white, bright green. The boy’s jaw turned to butter. The dull canvass transformed into the beautiful valley. The grandfather finished, just as the morning light left. He showed his grandson the picture.
“How,” asked the boy. “How did you do it?”
The grandfather took the boy by the hand, left the canvass upon the easel, and walked back to the cabin. He led his grandson into the cellar. From the ceiling swung a single light bulb. And by that dim light, the boy saw, stacked in piles upon piles, and spread upon the walls, canvass after canvass of the same vista.
“Did you paint all these?” asked the grandson. “Even these?” he said, pointing to ones that looked just as bad as his own.
The grandfather nodded.
“How do I paint like you? How can I paint like this?” the boy asked.
“Every morning,” said the grandfather. “until your hand can move in the dark while you wait for the light.”