Part 45: The path least travelled (Part 22)
2007-09-27 12:26:44 -
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Metro Eireann presents the latest weekly column by the entrepreneur coach and business growth specialist, designed to help you overcome any obstacles and reach your dreams 

Previously: A curious conundrum has been posed to the travellers as they reflect upon how life can be viewed positively or negatively, depending on one’s state of mind. They have discovered that many people seemingly live their lives in a prison of their own choosing, without realising that they actually have their own key to freedom.
While animals are primarily driven by a desire to survive, humans have the capability to move to higher plains of consciousness, which enables them to seek power at the first level and as growth continues, to enjoy growth in itself.

With the key to freedom about to be given to the travellers and those who have read about their adventures, something has disturbed their thoughts as the vixen bolts upon hearing something that has alerted her survival instincts…
 
As the vixen fled, the travellers heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Our friends turned to see who had disturbed the fox and saw a rather dishevelled figure with ringlets in his hair, coming over the brow of a small hummock towards the lake. He was of indeterminate age, somewhere between his mid-thirties and mid-fifties, with a long beard and brown stains around his mouth, creases around his eyes and a melancholic expression on his face. He walked up to the group and said: “Welcome to my world.”

Though still somewhat distracted by watching the vixen bolt through the heather, Electra was the first to recover and moved forward with her hand extended to greet the stranger. “Hi I am Electra,” she offered, “it’s lovely to meet you.”

“Is it?” said the stranger, displaying a rather lopsided toothy grin as he replied. “Is it really? You don’t even know me, so that tells me that you are either a fool or a friendly person – are you a fool?”
“That’s not very nice, is it?” said Electra, bristling with indignation.

“Ah, so I was wrong then!” replied the stranger, a nervous twitch showing in his right eye. “I thought you might have been a friendly sort, not really a fool who jumps to conclusions – it’s amazing how you can misread people, isn’t it?”

“I thought you were suggesting I was a fool,” said Electra defensively.

Nunco was watching and listening to the exchange intently. Meanwhile, Preteritus was caught up in his own battle with Prostremo over who had really won the bet, now that Sophie the vixen had not actually approached them, and as a result missed the nuances of what was going on.

“I gave you an option,” continued the stranger. “And besides, let’s not fight, we don’t even know each other – well in fact that’s not true, you’re Electra, you said. And I am Mike – hey, now we know each other.”
‘Flippin’ headcase,’ thought Electra to herself.

“You’re right, I am sorry,” she said. “I guess I took the wrong end of the stick. You did indeed say that I could be friendly; I suppose I really should act friendly and live up to the reputation you have given me. So what has you in this neck of the woods then?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” said Mike. “Since I live here, and since I haven’t seen you about before, I guess to me you’re the strangers. Though don’t get me wrong, you’re real welcome, I’m sure you’re nice folk really – apart from that sticky start we had – and you’re cooking some fish, and I’m starving”

“You are certainly welcome to join us,” said Nunco. “Though I cannot vouch for what they might end up tasting like. Prostremo, that’s the guy chasing the other fellow – correction, that’s the guy who just fell flat on his face over that clump of heather, trying to chase Preteritus – well, he was the one who actually gutted the fish, and he said he didn’t have a clue what he was doing.”

“What are they quarrelling over?” asked Mike.

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Nunco, exasperated with his friends’ antics. “They had some bet over whether or not a vixen we freed last night from a trap would actually come over to us or chase a rabbit. I guess she did neither since she was frightened away by your approach.”

“A gin-trap, was it?” Mike’s eyebrows arched with the question.

“Was that you?” Electra jumped back into the conversation, indignation reddening her cheeks. “They are the cruellest things that I have ever seen. If we hadn’t rescued that vixen, then she would be dead now – and I suppose you would have eaten her and worn her pelt as shoes or some other primitive custom!”

“You know what, lady? I could take real offence here!” replied Mike, a bright twinkle in his eyes belying the true meaning of his words. He paused for effect, making a big show of removing a piece of food stuck in his lower teeth with a stiff blade of grass he had just plucked from the ground in a swift motion.

Electra, in full attack mode now, completely consumed with her loathing for the man in front of her, missed the subtle signs that Nunco had noticed and raved: “It’s a complete scandal, people like you! How would you like it if you had a great metal clamp with jagged teeth crushing into your leg? Is there not a more humane way you could go about catching your food?”

“Feisty words from a feisty lady,” said Mike, the twinkle spreading to the rest of his face, at least those parts not covered by his straggly beard. “So what has you so certain that it was me that set your trap?”

“Well, didn’t you?” Electra was almost shouting now, the venom practically dripping from her contorted features.
“You seem to believe I did,” said Mike. “All the circumstantial evidence is pointing at me, I guess, yet you seem keen to move straight to judgement. It is as though you have gathered a few scraps of evidence, and by combining them with your belief system, which, I might add, definitely seems to have its roots in justice, have come up with certain knowledge of the facts.

“I would even go so far as to ask – without definite knowledge, is it fair to make judgements on people? Is that not the way the crowd jumps to lemming-like conclusions about so-called facts?”

Nunco, sensing that hostilities were likely to become further inflamed, stepped into the discussion: “Successful people are very disciplined at what they say no to, and I suppose, Mike, that you are suggesting we should all stop and think before we react. Is that right?”

Electra, suddenly grasping the situation, and going a deep shade of crimson, muttered: “I, gosh, oh no – me and my big mouth in foot, I mean foot in mouth – oh whatever, you know what I mean!”

“I will gracefully take that as a realisation that I am not a butcher!” smiled Mike. “And, no, you don’t need to apologise, since no offence was intended and no offence taken. I just happened to be the nearest punching bag around for you to vent your spleen on. If it’s any interest to you at all, I am equally outraged. In fact I can’t believe that I missed one. I thought I had found them all!”

“No, I feel I must explain,” said Electra. “This is just a classic example of me and my big mouth, I just get so passionate sometimes, and I just don’t stop to think. I suppose the saying ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread’ has some anchor on reality. Look, here’s the world’s greatest fool!”

“And to what positive affirmation system can we attribute talk like that?” said Mike. “Fools are those who travel the world in ignorance, without the common decency to blush and show humbleness, like you did. A fool will not realise the error of his ways, and thus a fool will fail to learn the great lessons that life’s mistakes are prepared to teach us.”
 
“For a man living alone in the woods, you sure seem to know a lot about people,” said Electra.

“There you go, jumping to conclusions again!” said Mike. “Just because I am now living in the woods doesn’t mean I was always a hermit. You can never really tell the book from the cover – yet people have this idea that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

“Every impression on every day is a new one; it’s a whole different perspective on life, a new way of viewing the universe and all it has to offer. Did you ever stop to consider that in many ways, the path that is least travelled is the one that your heart tells you to follow? But we are often so caught up in following the way that we think should be followed that we get caught up in the crowd.

“I could not do that anymore. I needed to break free, I needed to find my identity back, to find a way to truly love myself for who I was. You travellers, you are doing a noble thing, but if you really want to know where to find the treasure you seek, you need to…”

To be continued next week

peter@3r.ie
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