Monday, October 17, 2005

A Search for Meaning

When I was young and living in the small city of Chinhae, South Korea. I had many interests and one was exploring, climbing the mountains that surrounded the city. And there was one time, I ran into a man who was making a small greenhouse, out of plastic he had salvaged perhaps from the Navy Base where I lived.

Having nothing better to do, I helped him, for a while and afterwards we had tea, and he shared some of a small portion of rice he had brought for his lunch. We sat and talked, he told me of his life and I told him of mine. He asked me if I would like to hear a story, one his mother had told him years ago. I sat and listened:

He told me of another young man, who use to climb the mountains searching and exploring. And that one day he heard of a man that held the key to the mystery of life. And he began searching for this man. Hoping to find answers to the question, that many have asked for years, and found the answer as elusive as the rainbow over the ridge. And the more he searched, the more he desired to know the meaning of his existence. And why, this man held the key, that would open the door to our existence.

The young man searched long and far. Each day he would make a trek up the mountain for the man who held the key. And time and time again he would not find the man. But he became more and more determined, and as it would happen he did find the man.

The old man was sitting by a rock surveying all that could be seen quietly, as the young man approached. He stood there silently, watching the man with respect. Soon he thought he would know the mystery that has confounded so many.

When the time came, after some idle conversation he approached the subject, "I have heard from many that you know the meaning of life. I have been searching, for you to find the answer. What is the meaning of life?"

The old man looked at him the young man thought his eyes penetrated his soul, then the man said. "I will tell you in a bit, but first follow me for awhile."

So the young man followed the man as he walked higher up the mountain. He was impatient to know the meaning. But the old man was not quite ready to reveal the secret.

And after awhile, the man sat, and the young man sat next to him and waited for the old man to speak. And the old man looked the young man in the eyes, with even a more penetrating force and said, "Come back tomorrow and you will learn more."

Each day the young man returned to the mountain and found the old man, and each day, the answer was the same, and the young man wondered what he was learning and how the mystery of life would unfold.

But the answer was always the same, "come back tomorrow and you will learn more."

But then one day, the old man said something different. He looked the old man in the eyes as the man said, "Today you will learn the meaning of life, but first would you go get me a drink of water from the valley?"

The young man nearly ran down the mountain, he jumped over rocks and made his way quickly to the valley and to the stream, he knew soon he would know the meaning of life.

And down by the stream, as he was dipping for the water, he saw a beautiful girl washing clothes. He became mesmerized by her movements as she carefully applied herself to the tasks of washing, the mundane task he saw as art.

He met the girl and they later married. He began to work as a farmer, watching his crops grow each season. Soon he had small ones that he learned to love, and his life became full. There was little in life that he could ask for more. He grew content, and fulfilled.

But then after years, he found himself on the mountain again. And there was the old man sitting in the same spot, he had forgotten he left him some many years in the past. And he wondered if the old man would remember him. Would he remember the young man who was searching for the meaning of life?

The old man looked up and saw the young man and again penetrated his soul with his eyes. Even though it had been years since he saw the young man he asked, "Did you bring my drink from the valley?"

The young man then knew instantly, the key, to the meaning of life. What he searched for was found in the act of living and growing, and the old man smiled, because they both had unlocked the mystery of life.

Picture: The Blue Ridge Mountains by bob


At 3:14 PM, Blogger D L Ennis said...

What a fascinating story Bob. I truly enjoyed it! It filled me with peace...


At 3:22 PM, Blogger B O B said...

Thank you DL, it was a story that I hoped wouldn't get lost.

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Melissa O. Markham said...

A wonderful story, Bob. Thanks for sharing!


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