Al Cashion: The Guardian
August 24, 2012
There are life lessons that are best taught to the imagination before settling in the frontal lobe for practical use. A story says it best.
As all good stories with morals, you must wait until the end to learn, unless the lesson is already with you.
The young man was on a journey to find his happiness. This was something he desired and something he felt should be rightfully his.
Somewhere, he hoped, he would stumble upon something or someone that would have his happiness wrapped neatly as a gift and present it to him with fanfare.
He would be happy.
He was bitter for his age, as he had yet to pass his twentieth year. He was much too young to have developed his caustic demeanor. But then, that is true for everyone.
He was well fed, cared for and loved by parents, friends when he chose to be friendly, and a stable and safe community.
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He was without want, except the exaggerated wants of an over-sized ego, and thought life never extended beyond the borders of himself.
The city in the distance looked promising.
The city gate was open with an old man being the sole guardian who sat tranquil, resting his back against the gate.
As the young man approached, he sensed a certain contentment in the old man. He wore it. As a ruler would wear finery to demonstrate wealth and power, the old man seemed to wear his contentment as though it were his wealth.
Cataracts had left the Guardian all but blind. The crippling swells of arthritis rendered his hands impotent and his back arched and twisted, showing years of hard labor.
Yet he seemed to be without complaint and more, he was peaceful and pleasant, as though life had been nothing but a blessing.
“How far have you journeyed?” asked the old man without an introduction.
“About 4 days journey,” answered the young man expecting a certain amount of pity.
“Sir, can you answer me?"
It was more of a condescending demand than a question.
"I am looking for a city of excitement, a city of people smart enough to recognize my worth," the young man said. I want wealth and honor, and I am determined.
"Would I find that here?"
“Tell me about where you came from,” answered the Guardian, as wisdom often answers a question with a question.
"I have nothing to say of good report for the town from which I came. Simpletons all," he said. "They could not see my brilliance nor their own folly. They were foolish romantics. They preferred harmony over wealth and virtue over gain."
The Guardian scratched his bearded chin. He smiled a gentle smile and said, “Go on your way, son. You will find these people to be the same.”
Somewhat surprised, the young man turned to continue his journey. He looked back for a moment, only to see the old man motion with disfigured hand to continue his journey.
“Go on, Son," he said. "Find your happiness, if you can.”
Another young man was on a journey to find … something. He would need employment and he was willing to show himself worthy of his wage.
Maybe he would be a merchant if he could see an unmet need.
He had a destination. He just wasn't sure where he would find it. He was bringing himself somewhere and was excited to do so. He had much to offer, much to give.
He already missed his family and friends. He missed his hometown too.
He approached a town that looked hopeful from a distance.
An old man at the gate looked wise.
“Sir, what kind of town is this? What are the people like?" the young man asked.
“What were the people like where you came from?” the old man replied.
As the young man began to brag about home and family and friends, tears came unexpectedly. Somewhat embarrassed, he drew his praise to a close.
“Please enter,” said the Guardian of the gate. “You will find this city as wonderful as the one you left.
"And may I ask from where you have come?"
"Bethel, Sir," replied the young man.
The old man paused.
"Another from Bethel passed this way yesterday."
• Happiness will not be found “there” if it is not with you "here", wherever here may be.
• Geography very rarely initiates happiness and wisdom isn't found on a map. That place is called home, wherever that may be at present.
• The reason to go is to give, not to get.
• Wherever you go, you will always take yourself. Or, as seen on a mural above the exit doors of a high school, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
Tell me Traveler, what sort of place do you live in?