A young lump of coal was formed under the ground. He met a small but shiny diamond in the mine.
The wise and old diamond said to him, “Hide yourself well, and subject yourself patiently to time. Then many thousands of years later, you can gain radiance and an almost eternal form just like me!”
The young lump of coal said to him, “But I would like to go to the surface, and see the world outside.”
The old diamond replied, “But you could be found and burnt. Then your energy will be released and your body turned into a gas to wander the earth and be converted into other substances. If you are patient like I was eons ago, one day you will become shiny and hard and enjoy near indestructibility, and be admired and treasured.”
The young lump of coal thought for a while and made up his mind.
He said to the diamond, “I will rise to the surface now, to see this world as it is right now. If I am burnt for heat and light, so be it. At least my short life would have served a useful purpose to someone else.”
“But the carbon in you will be lost! You will be no more!”
“It was never mine to begin with in the first place. I was made from something else too. If every lump of coal were to remain hidden and become diamonds, none of the energy they contain will ever be released to help fuel the creation of something else possibly more beautiful, albeit less permanent than a diamond. I’m happy for you that you have found your own form of eternity. Let me go find mine. Perhaps a moment of heat and light that can be felt is more useful to the world outside than an eternity of cold and detached radiance…”
The young lump of coal smiled at the old diamond and then found his way to the surface to face the dangers of self-destruction that lay ahead…