THE JOURNEY

    CHAPTER 1

She looks around and sees the world flowing, people and things move like they are a part of a giant structure, a machine that is so big, we can’t even see it. Her eyes are drawn to everything as if they just opened for the first time, trying to absorb and examine all the information there is. And there is so much of it. For her, life just starts and it is up to her to choose the path, to find her place not to mention achieve and do so many things! Of course, her life has ups and downs but generally she has always felt happy. True, she has never owned expensive treasures but she does have enough to eat, a place to sleep and she is safe. Almost every time and everywhere there is a reason to smile, to feel this ease in your chest ― like when you look up to the blue sky, when you watch bees, buzzing over flowers in spring, when you feel all the scents of nature. In her childhood, she would always find time if someone needed help or just to sit down at a mountain spring and listen to birds while the sound of water with the fresh air would slowly put her to sleep.

However, now she is discovering a whole new world of prospects and pleasures. People have told her. “Yes, you may be young and beautiful but that isn’t enough. In order to be really happy you must be successful and success is measured by accomplishments.” It was all so intriguing and exciting... She saw accomplished people everywhere. They were beautifully dressed, clean and elegant, their profiles were smooth and although from time to time some were lacking smiles on their faces, they seemed to be always in the center of interest of those who would admire them. From observing others around her somehow she’s always known that rich and beautiful people are more popular, they have all they want therefore they are happy. On the other hand, the less popular people were usually loners who didn’t have much of influence on the society around. She didn’t give it a real thought at the time but now it all seems to make perfect sense. What if she couldn’t tell illusion from reality? Perhaps the whole time, she has been missing out on so many things! It felt like yet another new world has unraveled before her.

It is decided. She will set out to pursue success in order to find true Happiness. By this thought, she notices an intriguing person passing by. He is young and slim, wearing an elegant suit and his walk even seems like dancing of very special kind. Something about this man, the attraction she suddenly feels. Yes, it is not her illusion, he is looking on her. He never says a word, yet there is something about the look in his eyes, almost saying: It is me you are searching. Come, catch me, for I know the best way of all. She cannot help this urge to follow him. She wants to be like him; to wear this magnificent suit and have the power of control, that she can feel radiating from his dynamic moves. It’s a completely new feeling ― a strong desire to have... It feels like the world around her suddenly seized to exist, everything but the object of her desire and her. He is running away and she is chasing him, yet he always manages to stay ahead of her. He knows the terrain and uses it to his advantage. They are running trough the city, passing by people dodging cars and trains. Sometimes he is just a few inches out of her grasp, but always finds a way to loose her, so she has to roam the streets of life looking for him again and again. However, he never stays out of her sight too long, not letting her desire wear off. Even when she is tired and resting, he appears in her both night and day dreams. His dance is restlessly reminding her of what she might get, if she tries hard and long enough. Although to be honest, there is a tiny little thought in the back of her mind, asking if this is really the best way of life. But she does know that the way to success isn’t an easy one and her motivation is pure, hence she won’t loose her will to pursue Happiness.

One evening she spots him moving old and tiny streets near an old castle. Her happiness is once again within her reach! Yet now, it feels somehow different. She’s more experienced than before, she knows she will need to stay focused, if she doesn’t want him to dodge her again. Full of confidence, yet again, the girl stands up to continue her pursuit. To her surprise, this time, for some reason he isn’t running away. It is a late evening, street lamps are lit and she finds him before an old wall, dancing in an incredible halo of colorful lights that seem to be shining from his clothing, engulfing both the wall and her. Never before, was her goal so within reach, even inviting her to come and take it. As she closes in, the wall starts to look like a giant mirror streaming the whole palette of colors towards her. Almost entranced, she is coming closer, with her hand reaching out.

The wall, the street, the man, the whole city has disappeared. She finds herself on a clearing facing a big green bush standing there instead of the wall. It is a beautiful warm day, the Sun shines high in the sky and there is a huge forest surrounding her, wherever she looks. Birds are singing everywhere and every inch is teeming with Life. Something feels incredibly familiar about this place - like she has known it her whole life. Gently and without hesitation, she moves among trees, enjoying this beautiful place, although her visions of the man and hisbeautiful dress and dance are still there and now she is going in the direction where they are getting stronger. And there he is, hiding behind trees and then running away from her. Yet again she is chasing him, sprinting through the forest dodging trees and once again he will slip away inches before her grasp. She is seriously tired of it, but she will not give up. She is convinced that one day success will come if she keeps trying. But now, perhaps she needs a break, perhaps some distance, hence she can look at her life from a different perspective? Maybe. But let’s just walk, be open minded and listen to the world around.

She roams and roams the forest that doesn’t seem to end no matter where and how far she goes. Tall and huge trees offering protection from the Sun, springs and ponds pristine water and fruit trees or bushes food. Harmony is wherever she looks and silence is disturbed only by songs of birds. After walking for some time, she finds a clearing under a small hill. Much to her surprise, there on a tree stub sits all alone an old gray-haired man. He doesn’t seem to have any possessions, except for a small fire, a small metal teapot, a cup and a flute leaning on the side of the stub where he is sitting. His dress appears to be very old but comfortable, his eyes are deep and immensely peaceful.

At this moment, the voice of her newly chosen life of ambition is telling her that this man doesn’t appear to have anything to offer, anything people around have taught her to value and want and perhaps he looks more like one of those uninteresting people who spend their lives in some corner far from the successful society, never even dreaming of achieving anything of what she is set to achieve... However,no matter how reasonable in the context of her way of life this voice sounded, she would never despise someone just because they are poor or their clothes are old. Anyone can say or think anything they want, but that isn’t her. Now, strengthened by this thought and full of curiosity, she approaches him. Even when she comes very near, he doesn’t loose his deep concentration. In a very gentle manner, she says: “Are you a traveler?” He takes the teapot and pours some tea in the cup. His hands are calm and precise, he gives each of his moves exactly the time it needs to be completed without rush. He then lifts the cup on the fully open palm of his hand by one dynamic, yet not fast move of his arm in her direction, saying: “I live here.” Not only he looks like from a different world, he even speaks in a different language, but somehow she can understand him. She takes the cup from his hand and sits beside him. She is totally perplexed and a little confused. This she didn’t expect to hear. Thus she asks: “How could you live here without having anything of value?”... “You think I can’t live like this, right...” he says with a little smile, while taking few small pieces of wood and putting them in the fire. Then he reached inside his dress for a small bag to put some tealeaves from it in the teapot. Truly amazed, she is watching him, his calmness and confidence. She can’t help thinking that despite having almost nothing, this man really looks happy and content just the way he is. Until this moment such a concept was beyond her imagination. He took his flute to his mouth. What then followed was for her even a bigger surprise. This wasn’t any kind of music she had ever heard before. The sound of the flute was in a way similar to that of the wind passing through the forest. Long steady tones, combined with a few short ones, were resonating through her like waves, leaving her flooded with a feeling which she either felt for the first time, or might had felt long long time ago and then completely forgot due to the significant speed of her life. Once again, it is like the whole world around just seized to exist. But this time there is absolutely no desire, no ambition, no confusion. Nothing. Not even time. The only thing that exists is the sound. Free of any thought, any form, any concept. Pure sound. She stays like this for a few moments after he finished playing. “That was amazing... I’ve never felt so peaceful before...” she says after a while, but in the meantime, there is a little suspicion on her mind, also reminding her of her goal. So she adds: “But I doubt that this is the only meaning of life...” “You are living in your life. Therefore you must ask your life.” he replies, putting the flute back where it was. “What is your happiness?” “Being with myself.” With each his response, doubts about her life’s choices are growing a little bit bigger and all this starts to make a real sense. A variety of colorful lights floods her senses, while the dancing man’s wonderful cloak is rushing around her like a swarm of golden and silver fireflies, in a breathtaking dance.
“Only I can make you happy!” He is right next to her, giving her a very intense look, continuing: “You, don’t forget that you were after the thing you want!” Then he returns to his swift dance right in front of her, while going on: “These are all illusions. You will forget them soon enough.” His words are adding even more magic to his moves , leaving her feeling almost enchanted. Suddenly he stops and all the lights with him. He lifts his hand pointing at her. Then he makes a gesture inviting her to follow him. She stands up but then hesitates a bit. She turns back to the old man. “Isn’t it an exciting offer? This is what I was running after!” He, totally undisturbed, replies: “Even when you are looking, you are just looking. If you don’t look, you won’t see...” With doubts and hesitation, she is standing there, watching both of them, trying to understand all that is just happening around.

All her life she wanted to fulfill her ambitions, so she will be successful and it now it looks so near... But what if going with him means going back to her life of endless running all over again? The calmness the old man just showed her - will she be able to feel that out there, surrounded by so many things? She seems to be stuck. The man takes off his cloak and puts it right before her eyes, almost like he is telling her: This beautiful piece of cloth is all one need to be forever happy. With this, the whole world will be at your feet, there is no greater success you can achieve in your life. A deep and powerful desire leads her mind, guides her moves, slowly stepping forward, reaching for it, while he is stepping back, putting distance between them and the old man. Then by a few dancing moves, he gets behind her, laying the cloak of Success on her shoulders. She cannot believe that after such a long journey, the goal of her life is finally achieved.

The forest has disappeared. She is kneeling there before the wall, with her hands touching the street. It is night and the street lamps are lit. She is wearing the dress of her dreams that glows in their halo. No one else is there.

→ Chapter 2

慧淨



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