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The Cure for the Sickness of El Dorado

This week, I am posting an article by a personal friend, Stephen Palmer; an inspired and talented man. This article by Stephen Palmer is an issue of his “Inspiration Weekly” newsletter.



When the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in the Americas in 1504, the territory governor offered him a land grant. He scoffed, “I came to get gold, not to till the soil like a peasant.”

He, like hundreds of adventurers and treasure-seekers, was bedazzled by tales of gold and treasure. Over the next two centuries, invaders obsessed with finding the legendary kingdom of El Dorado combed the Amazon. Most of them died of disease and hunger.

El Dorado has never been found, but the legend has not died, nor will it ever.

El Dorado is an idea, a twisted hope embedded in the soul of man. It is the incessant quest for a free lunch, the foolish search for greener pastures, the deluded yearning for quick and easy shortcuts, the childish desire to get something for nothing.

As Cortés sneered at the offer of land, we reject exercise and nutrition in favor of drugs and liposuction. Preferring overnight riches to earned wealth, we buy lottery tickets, gamble in the stock market, speculate in risky ventures promising high returns.

The illusory gold of romance gleaming in our wandering eyes, we pursue one relationship after another, only to become disenchanted with each when it becomes hard work. We abandon the fields of marriage to muck around in the mines of superficial passion and selfish lust.

Anxious for something new and exciting to enliven our daily routine, we frantically comb Facebook and check email. Wanting an easy path to open up for us, we wait for inspiration before acting.

For all such malcontent treasure-seekers, happiness, fulfillment, and success lie always around the next bend in the road, ever slipping through their fingers. They may not die of disease or starvation, but their hunger is never satiated and the sickness of El Dorado rots their soul.

We have been given soil to till, a purpose to fulfill. Our fields of purpose lie fallow as long as El Dorado makes our hearts beat faster and lifts our eyes to distant horizons.

The beginning of success is the realization that El Dorado has not, does not, will not ever exist except as dark and perverted fantasies posing as glamorous legends — the acceptance that there are no shortcuts, that nothing worthwhile comes quick and easy.

The end of success is the harvest gleaned from cultivating our fields of mission over years of dedicated, persistent effort.

Far too many naïve whippersnappers have been set to a frenzy by the old man’s breathless declaration, “There’s gold in them thar hills.” They should have listened to Napoleon Hill instead, who said,

“More gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has been taken from the earth.”

Wealth is not found in gold and treasure, but rather in the satisfaction of a job well done, the knowledge that we are fulfilling our unique purpose to the best of our ability, the joy of blessing the lives of others.

We need not travel to exotic destinations to encounter adventure. We need not discard our spouse to find passion and romance.

Adventure, passion, and romance are not found out in the world, around the bend, over the horizon. They are chosen and created in our hearts.

Your wife is an awe-inspiring, worship-worthy goddess — if you choose to perceive her as such. Under his work clothes and mild-mannered alter ego, your husband is an amazing superhero just waiting to be discovered.

Your home is a gold-encrusted kingdom bursting with knights in shining armor, princesses worth dying for, battles to fight, dragons to slay, conquests to win.

Gaze not at the horizon yearning for a mythical El Dorado. Look inside your heart, till the land you’ve been granted, and in every mundane day, discover the adventure.


Stephen Palmer is a New York Times best-selling writer and the founder of Life Manifestos, which creates inspirational posters and products for people who live with passion and purpose. Subscribe to his Inspiration Weekly newsletter to get his articles every Monday morning.

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