Thursday, June 16, 2011

In search of something undefined

Once upon a time, as it has happened many times, a young man set out to seek his fortune. He was lucky that he lived in a time when people set out to find their fortune by walking. Walking changes what you see and what you think. It gives you time to notice things you would miss from a car or an airplane.

The young man set off in spring, when the sun was shining and the air was soft. Sometimes it rained. The grass was brightly green, and the trees were newly green, and there were birds and flowers and smiles all around. It was good times, and some days he almost forgot to seek his fortune because it was almost enough just to be alive and walking in the springtime.

Summer came, and the ground grew drier and the air grew hot and damp. The young man started to think that he had been a lot of places and he still had no idea what his fortune would look like or where he would find it. He dreamed of his fortune every day while he walked, and every day it looked different to him. Sometimes he looked around, surprised to find himself in a forest or a village. He had been dreaming so vividly, he lost track of where he was walking.

The young man decided he needed to know more about what he was looking for. He would choose his fortune and then look until he found it. He decided that his fortune was a blue gemstone, a stone the colour of a lake on a perfect summer day. He began to ask everyone he met if they had ever seen such a stone. A few had seen it but could not remember where. Others just shook their heads. Some of them told stories about the stones they had held or polished or seen at a distance. As much as he tried to put all this information together, he could not tell if he was getting closer to finding his fortune.

That evening, he camped in a clearing on the stony shores of a lake. He walked to the edge of the water and watched the sun get lower in the sky and thought about his fortune. Without thinking, he reached for a stone and skipped it across the water. Before long, he forgot his fortune as he looked for the best stones to skip across the water. Sometimes he chose well, sometimes he threw well, sometimes the stone sank with a heavy plop. He was as intense and happy as a child.

And then he stopped. He stopped because he suddenly noticed the shape and weight of the stone in his hand. It felt exactly right. It was not blue and it was not a gemstone, but he knew at once that this stone was meant for him. He held it, balanced it, tossed it, held it again. It was just an ordinary stone from the shore of this lake, and it was his fortune.

When he woke the next morning, he watched the early light on the ripples of the lake. He felt the breeze pick up just a little, and he stretched. He began the long walk home, with his fortune in his hand and his eyes wide open.

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