Sunday, December 5, 2010

Seeker's Journey: Four Travelers

As Seeker traveled on his unmarked trail, he occasionally met fellow travelers who had chosen an uncharted route.  Seeker's journey led him up into mountains, and his conversations with others helped him tremendously when the actual path was difficult to discern.  At times, it seemed that there was no real path at all, just a general heading, or a landmark on which he could fix his gaze.  Other travelers would tell Seeker about places to find clean water, magnificent overlooks, quiet thickets.  A few people Seeker met claimed to have been everywhere in these mountains, but few of them seemed earnest in such claims. 

One man was eager to compare maps with Seeker.  Unlike Seeker, he had struck out on his journey with a specific destination in mind: Unconditional Human Love.  Seeker had met other travelers like him, who could not find a way to take well-known routes and arrive at Inner Peace, or Renewing Solitude, or The Most Inspiring View, or any number of other destinations.  And so, they had taken an unmarked trail in the hopes of finding their own personal El Dorado.  Seeker had not found any of those destinations, but the conversation was pleasant enough.

Seeker asked the man about other nearby destinations before they parted ways.  The most valuable information often came from people who began answers to his queries with, "I don't know, but..."  This man's response especially stuck with Seeker.  "I don't know what's near here, but you'll be more likely to find it if you're looking for it."  Seeker thanked him and they went off on their respective journeys.

Another pair of travelers was headed back to clearly-mapped roadways.  One seemed rather disappointed with her journey off the beaten trail, but the other seemed quite satisfied and ready to resume a previous agenda.  As Seeker talked with them, he discovered that the two women had come from the same destination, and his concept of "desirable destinations" began to shift.  The same end point had left one woman feeling frustrated and empty, while her companion was full of vigor and purpose. 

Comparing maps with each other, the travelers confirmed that they were headed back toward "accepted" routes, and Seeker began to reassess his sense of which destinations on his map were truly desirable.  Then, Seeker was startled to learn that the two women did not even know if they were carrying a third map like his, with only an arrow upon it.  They seemed puzzled by it, and left unconvinced of its usefulness.  Seeker pondered how they had made it along any uncharted trail without such a map, but he shrugged and bade them a good journey.

The more Seeker conversed with fellow travelers, the more he became convinced that no destination was inherently desirable.  Many people who had wandered from well-traveled paths seemed to have a different sense of where they most wanted to go.  They still relied on their map of destinations, but they didn't concern themselves with which sites the mapmakers indicated as more or less desirable.  This got Seeker thinking about what adjustments he could make to his own map, which destinations he would label most desirable if he had made his map.   

As he was still pondering this, Seeker came across another man who seemed so light and carefree that Seeker's face immediately smiled upon seeing him.  When he asked the man about nearby destinations, the man seemed exuberant at the wonders that were nearby, but he could give Seeker no real indication of how to reach them.  So, Seeker suggested they compare maps.  

"A splendid idea!" replied the stranger as he withdrew a single well-worn map.  It was nearly identical to Seeker's map with the arrow and nothing else.  Seeker laughed a bit and looked at the man expectantly.

"What about your other maps?" Seeker prompted.

"This is the only map I use!  Each day I come across new and glorious reasons to appreciate this journey.  I'm not exactly sure where I've been, and I don't know where I'm going, but I know that there will be something to see when I get there."

After an incredulous moment, Seeker mused, "It is as if you are your own destination."

The smiling man looked at his arrow-map, and Seeker looked at his own.  As it happened, when they oriented their maps a bit, they pointed in the same direction.  So Seeker traveled with the man for a bit, hanging on to his other maps and considering what destination he may actually find desirable.  In the meantime, he became more accustomed to using a map to which he had paid very little attention before setting off on the mysterious path.  Although it was true that there was always a new and glorious reason to appreciate the journey, Seeker was convinced that there was a way to combine a meaningful journey with a meaningful destination.

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