Kevin G Hare

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The Path

The feeling of it was nostalgic though I looked upon the scene anew. I walked a path familiar to me but one I haven’t known. The sky was there as it always was dotted with clouds passing at their leisurely pace. The grass and the birds were there too but they were not the way I remember from before. I know I have always sought to walk this path but knew not where it was. Only when I found it did I realize it was always there, in plain view.

I trod in the middle, I dared not stray to one side or the other for there was nothing there that appealed to me. From this point, all the sights were clear and nothing was hidden from my eyes. Stray but a little, and my vision would haze and become glossy for on my left Desire lurked in the shadows and on my right stood Ego, looking down at me. I walked this path with more soul in my heart than on my feet and I bared no mind for my travelling companions.

The breeze brushed my face with freshness and spoke to me of peace. Each step placed before the other went with a guidance not my own but from a source I have known before but forgotten. I walked a while and never tired, nor did those two on either side for they watched me closely. There was no desire to stop for I enjoyed the serenity the path offered and I had no wish for it to end, until I came to a tree blocking the way ahead. The travelers stopped with me as I looked upon the magnificence of this tree.

“Great tree,” I said to thee, “how is it you are on my path?”

The great tree stirred and a gentle whisper came from its leaves, “Great wanderer,” the tree did ponder, “how is it you see the path as your own?”

To this I had to think and look about me. Desire was to my left, Ego to my right, before me was a tree of such beauty and lush greenery as I have never before laid my eyes upon, behind me was the path that stretched forever backwards. With caution to the wind I said back to the tree, “It is a path akin to me; it is familiar yet distant, I place my bared feet upon it for the first time yet knowing I have stepped upon it before. It must be my path to discover what mystery it holds. I would not be here otherwise.”

“Young mind,” he said in kind, “you have only just awakened and there are things you have yet to learn and things you have yet to forget.”

“May I stay with you awhile, and learn your wisdom?”

The tree said to me, “If it is truly your path, who am I to say you cannot?”

I sat and the travelers sat as well but I saw worry in their faces. They dared not come to the middle of the path but found their comfort at its edges. “Tell me, oh wise tree, tell me of that which I need to learn and that which I need to forget.”

The boughs creaked and the branches squeaked as though the tree needed to stretch from a long rest before he answered me, “Of my wisdom I can share with you, would be but a hint of what you need to learn. Of what it is you need to forget, remains part of the wisdom within.”

I sat perplexed and my companions leaned closer, their eyes full of hope and their limbs full of eagerness. “Teach me what you will and I will student as I can.”

“And that is all we can ever ask.” The great tree paused to draw a deep breath, “Do you know what it is that brought you to this path?”

To this I offered, “I have struggled long to achieve without reward, I have toiled to complete without ever finishing and I have even tried to tame the wild in the hearts of men. I have climbed to great status without satisfaction and I have fought for the freedom of others. Why, great tree, does all this do-gooding bring me such sorrow and emptiness?”

I felt again the breeze that bathes me in calm as the whispers touch my ears as a lullaby. “All answers come to you when peace allows you to listen. Seek within the proper questions and you learn the truth.”

“Forgive my simple mind wise one, what questions should I ask?”

“Ask why should you struggle and for what reward. Ask how many things must be finished to reach the end. Ask if you truly know the wild in men’s hearts and how you should change it. To seek status is to fight the peace within yourself and to fight at all is to encourage revenge. Do you know what it is that makes you seek such things?”

I sat in silence for awhile for the tree is a patient being and I listened to the wind. I pondered these things the great tree said to me until my heart bore me answers. Such a flutter went the pitter-patter of its beats that excitement woke me fully and I stood tall to face the tree with a smile upon my face. “I know what it is you have taught me, tree, and that which I need to forget.”

With a laugh from deep inside his trunk and a shower of leaves upon me that great big tree, he asked of me, “Then share, wisened one, tell us this knowledge you have learned!”

My roadside companions, they shrivelled back for they guessed what I had figured. “There is no reward worth struggling for nor is there any reward I should be seeking. I know now to finish one thing is to start another and that is what never ends. The wild in men’s hearts can only be changed by offering peace and to reach for status is to only compete with myself. Fighting, I add, can live on nothing but destruction and is not the way to find peace. Alas, but any being who should proclaim to have fought for peace is as blind to the meaning as the meaning is blind!” I danced a little dance before that great tree to show him my wonder and wisdom and shortly stopped to continue for I had more to offer. “And I know what it is that made me seek such things, they are called Desire and Ego and they have watched me close, traveled at my side to taunt me but to them I say, ‘I don’t need you any longer for it is you who create the wild in the hearts of mortals and only through peace and calm will each person find their own answers.” To this statement my companions feared and followed me no more. I laughed at them as they backed away into the shadows knowing their power over me had ended.

The tree shook his branches and chuckled more as he proclaimed words of his own, “Well done, friend! You are a student true as can be! You and I are now alike as your roots reach the earth, your heart grows large and your branches seek the light.”

“But there is one more thing I must say to you, tree, where my gratitude flows for your wisdom, this path I walk is not mine alone but for all who seek their answers. I invite any to walk at my side as I would walk at theirs, grateful for their company.”