Part 41: The path less travelled (part 19)
2007-08-30 13:15:23 -
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Previously… After telling a story about how beliefs we hold without question can limit the way we think and act, Nunco and Preteritus go off in search of some bilberries, while Electra and Prostremo stay behind to cook the 11 fish they had caught in the lake.

Nunco has just eaten one of the bilberries and, after offering a couple to Preteritus, has just appeared to collapse in the heather as though poisoned. Preteritus has just started to panic and is calling Nunco frantically.

The story continued…
After about a minute of writhing around in what appeared to be absolute agony, Nunco jumped up, grinning from ear to ear. The next second he is flat on his back again, having been floored by an outraged Preteritus, furious at being made an idiot of.

"I suppose you think that was funny," an angry Preteritus asked a stunned Nunco.
"It was only a joke," an unusually sullen Nunco replied.
"Well, I didn't think it was funny," said Preteritus. "What would I have done if there really was something wrong with you?"

"Ah, so you were worried about yourself and not me then?" asked Nunco, understanding dawning on his expression. "You weren't worried about me at all then?"
"That's rather egocentric of you!" said Preteritus. "Maybe you deserved the thump that I gave you?"

"Ok, I am sorry, I was just clowning around," said Nunco. "Can we put it behind us now, and let's go and collect some of these bilberries, because they are lovely and besides, the others will be wondering what has become of us."
"What will we put them in?" asked Preteritus. "They are tiny; it will be ages before we actually collect enough to eat."

"Here take one of these bags," said Nunco.
The two of them spent the next 15 minutes collecting the berries. Nunco's bag was full of luscious, juicy little balls of goodness, while

Preteritus still sulking from Nunco's prank had only a few in his bag.
"It's not fair," said Preteritus. "You have done this before and you know how to pick them better than I do. I suppose that is where experience comes in, is it?"

Rather than attempting to understand what had led to his inefficiency, it was interesting to note that Preteritus was more focused on how unfair he perceived the situation to be.
"Sure, we have enough here," said Nunco, ignoring Preteritus' petulance for the time being. "Let's get back to the others, I am sure that they will have some gutted fish ready by the time we get back, they may even be on the fire by now."

"But what will the others think about how few I have managed to collect?" persisted Preteritus.
"Interesting you should say that," said Nunco. "A quote from St Francis of Assisi comes to mind."
"Hit me with it!"
"He said: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

As the pair returned to their makeshift camp, where by this stage there was a fire going and Prostremo was up to his elbows in fish gore, Preteritus continued: "Are you telling me to quit moaning and just get on with it?"
Electra looking up from stoking the fire and removing the now boiling, blackened kettle said: "Are you two fighting again?"

"Well it wasn't me, it was Nunco," protested Preteritus. "He played this trick on me, nearly scared the life out of me and then I couldn't pick any of these stupid berries. I mean he has loads, it really isn't fair."

Prostremo looked up from his fish-gutting attempts and said, "Look at me, I have spent ages trying to gut these fish, I am sure that I have left enough bones in them to choke an army, let alone the few of us, but I learnt from it. I really messed up on the first few, but I believe that I got better, and I am sure if there was someone who knew what they were doing, then I could have watched them and really got the hang of it a lot quicker."

"Always searching for answers Pre, aren't you?" said Electra.
"Will you stop ganging up on me please," retorted Preteritus.
"If we didn't care about you deeply as a friend, then we would not bother helping you," said Nunco. "Maybe situations like this will help you to find the answers. However, it is only when you stop seeking and look within that the answers reveal themselves."

"I know, poor old Pre, he is such a lost cause that everyone needs to help him out," said Preteritus.
"We all have the power within, the choice to grow or wither," said Nunco. "I see our development like an acorn growing into an oak tree as our spirit evolves to a place of serenity. Each year passing adds another ring to our trunk as we grow stronger, with a core like iron, yet with softness of leaves that whisper in the wind."

"Very poetic," said Electra. "Yet I do not clearly accept where you are coming from. Trees are not thinking or sentient beings. The full life of the tree is determined by the DNA in the seed and the circumstances of where it is planted and what happens to it throughout its life – it can't make choices."

"And we can," said Preteritus, realisation dawning on his face, a smile starting to crease the corners of his mouth.
Preteritus sat down slowly and gently reclined. With his hands behind his head, he looked up at the soft, wispy clouds forming above the mountain's summit, feeling the light warmth of the sun's breath on his cheeks.

While the others looked at him, an expression of peace forming on his face, he let out this deep sigh of satisfaction, the power of which emanated from deep within his solar plexus. No words needed to be exchanged as they all watched this transformation come over their beloved friend.

After a few minutes lying in a deeply relaxed state, Preteritus spoke: "Continuing with the tree metaphor, have you ever watched Tarzan, swinging through the trees using vines as ropes. It is interesting to note that he uses one vine to propel himself forward and then grabs another, dropping the first.

"Can you imagine his progress were he not to let go of the first? I am beginning to realise also that our actions are manifested from our thoughts."

"And also our inactions," said Nunco. "Just because a physical action may seem impossible due to our feelings towards it, does not actually mean that it is impossible. Yet in so many ways our own demons stop us moving on and trying to get what we want - again we have that choice."

"So we should focus on what is possible, what we can truly affect?" asked Preteritus.

"Just as it is not possible to change the weather, well I don't believe in the power of rain dancing," said Nunco. "What is possible is how we decide to cope with or react to the weather. If we were planning a BBQ, we could spend the time worrying about what might happen if it rained, or possibly we could focus on what we could actually do if it did rain, like rent a gazebo."

"I know what I can change and I know what I can't," said Preteritus. "And the past is unchangeable, like you say it made me what I am and it cannot change. Thus, from this point forth I will try to accept it gratefully, indeed embrace it, because I understand that it made and forged who I am."

"And will you truly let go of it Pre?" asked Prostremo. "Nunco, how have you dealt with your past, what makes you appear so rounded and balanced? If I did not know you better, I would have said that you seem to live in an ivory tower. Yet I know that is unfair, because people who do that are normally judgemental, and that is something I have never witnessed in you."

"I welcome the pain that befalls me and the mistakes that I make, as it is through them that I learn," responded Nunco. "But I will not dwell on mishaps or the time and place that they were made – I will take action or inaction as appropriate. It comes down to choice again, and yes, believe me, I do know sometimes it is much easier to follow the wide and well travelled path for that short term flash of light, that many people easily misinterpret as fulfilment."

By now the fire had died down, to a glowing heart of reddish black, white ash decorating its surface like a light dusting of flour on a scone. Prostremo carefully skewered the fish onto stakes to roast slowly over the glowing embers.

Deeply connected to their own sense of reality, within the wilderness, the last thing the travellers expected was…
…To be continued…
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