Part 38: The path least travelled (part 16)
2007-08-09 14:57:58 -

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: Last week’s story continued on the start of the third day, with Nunco telling his three companions about his friend Adam, who had learnt many things which had stood him in great stead in life.

The keenest lesson had come from a friend of Adam’s, whose name Nunco is about to reveal, who had been with him at the time he discovered that looking after number one is the key to being able to look after your friends, with true experience as your guide.

“I did indeed,” replied Nunco “I knew him extremely well, in fact you guys know him as well.”
“Oh, come on Nunco, will you stop playing around?” pleaded an exasperated Preteritus.
“The suspense is killing us!” Prostremo added.

Just then, as they continued walking through the forest, with the light sifting down in golden streaks mottled by the undulating textures of the trees and overhanging branches, a heron arose from the treetops with a fluttered whispering of its wings beating the air as it rose majestically into the sky.
“We must be close to a lake or river, for a heron to be near us,” said Nunco.

“Did you remember to pack that little fishing rod, Pro?” asked Preteritus. “Maybe we could catch our dinner, though I have to say I have never gutted a fish before; the thought of it makes my stomach retch.”

“As is so happens, I did!” replied Prostremo, rummaging through his belongings. “Sometimes a little forward planning does actually help!”

“Well we are starting to descend now,” said Nunco, “and I think I can see the end of the forest, so maybe we should see the lake or river soon. We will need to find somewhere in the shade, since the fish won’t take the bait in the sun.”

”Maybe the worms will wriggle off the hook!” said Electra with a smile. “A bit like you – quite a master at evading the issue, aren’t we Nunco?”

“Sorry, I just got distracted by that heron,” he replied.
“Fine, well you’re not distracted now, are you?” said Preteritus.

“Okay, hands up, you are looking at him right now,” said Nunco. “I was the friend, you can see we all have lessons to learn, and in those instances, I certainly learnt from my mistakes! I have found that no matter how much I read, listen or watch what other people do, the only way I truly learn is by actually doing things myself.

“A great and successful businessman was once asked by an interviewer what the secret of his success was. ‘Two words.’ he replied – ‘good decisions’. The interviewer pressed on by asking him how he was able to make good decisions. ‘One word,’ he replied – ‘experience’. Not giving up, the interviewer continued by asking him how he had gained all of his experience. ‘Two words,’ the successful businessman continued – ‘bad decisions!’

“Strange as it may seem, I was not always calm and confident. It was only through life’s experiences that I started to grow. I now realise that my life has truly started and each day I look forward to learning through experience.

“Now getting back to this idea of fishing – I have watched others do it, but was never truly enthralled by the prospect of sitting beside a bank of water, immobile for hours, being eaten by midges!”

“I thought you could do everything that you set your mind to, Nunco,” said Preteritus “So how come you never mastered fishing?”

“For exactly that reason” answered Nunco. “Because I had never set my mind on doing it, I could never see a good reason to do it. This is so often true of people in their careers or jobs. They don’t succeed because they are not really interested in succeeding – to them they are just in a job, with set hours, set pay, but absolutely no fulfilment!”

“So does that mean you don’t want to go fishing, then?” asked Prostremo.

“In fact, I now do want to go fishing, because I have a reason for doing it,” answered Nunco. “I would really enjoy learning how to fish properly, since I rather fancy a bit of fish for dinner. At last I have a reason! I would love to actually catch something that we actually need to eat, since I have just realised we haven’t got too much food left!”

As they came to the edge of the forest, they were greeted with the most breathtaking view. The majestic purple glow of the heather spread out as far as the eye could see, and between a cleft in the hills they could glimpse a glimmer of water. In the distance beyond, they could behold the sparkle of a waterfall which was feeding the lake in the gap between the hills’ undulations.

Wiping the perspiration away from his forehead with a flick of his hand, and slightly out of breath, Preteritus paused, soaking up the scene in front of the travellers. A deep feeling of awareness and joy of the moment slowly spread through his body. The constant tugging of past memories, worries and concerns had been silenced as he slowly took off his backpack. With no care for consequences, Preteritus slowly sank to the ground, feeling the harsh abrasion of the scratchy heather as his shirt rode up his back.

In that moment Preteritus felt so fully alive that his whole being wanted to sing out aloud. Tears welled up in the corner of his eyes, and with a lump in his throat he truly experienced a glimpse of a life he never knew existed. This life was without debts, demands, fears, bosses and hardship. It was a simple life, a life of riches and nothing external could give this life to him. Preteritus had seen this amazing vision from within the depths of his being.

Preteritus just lay there, watching a bee hover over a heather bush, its translucent wings a blur as it held its position millimetres above the tiny purple flowers, searching for a miniscule drop of nectar which would soon be transported back to the colony, creating honey to see the hive through the coming months.

Nunco stopped and looked back at his friend, seeing the lines of worry disappear from his brow as he lay suffused in this internal glow of joy. Whatever they found, he thought, a priceless treasure had just been found by Preteritus.

“What’s up, Pre?” asked Prostremo.

Slowly drifting out of his trance, shaking his head, Preteritus answered cryptically: “Everything and nothing!”

“Eh?” said Prostremo.

“Isn’t it incredible how we aimlessly plod through life, not really sure of what we want, though always full of reasons as to why we don’t have it?” said Preteritus. “How can we anticipate success if we don’t know what success really is? I have just for the first time realised what I really want! I want to be in a position to be able to make a choice at any moment in time to sit in the middle of a clump of heather with someone that I can truly share the experience with. I have just started to truly live, I have tasted a morsel of fulfilment, and I have become addicted.

“Choice, that’s what it is all about – you know we have that choice, every one of us, all of the time. I never realised that before. Time and time again, Nunco would tell me these things but as he said earlier on, unless you actually experience things for yourself, you can not really know what they are or what lessons you can learn from them.

“We spend our lives looking around for teachers and mentors, people with all of the answers – and don’t get me wrong, I love you guys, but I was looking in the wrong place. We all have a unique teacher, who was made for us and for us alone. That teacher is ourselves – we just need to stop a moment and listen to our own hearts.”

Preteritus glanced over at Electra, who was sitting in another clump of heather. She also had tears rolling down her face. She looked up at him and smiled through misty eyes, saying in a choked voice: “No person is an island, I totally agree with you about the teacher within, and I believe that that teacher needs a catalyst to come alive. You guys are amazing; your deep sense of friendship and kinship has allowed you communicate on a deeper level that reaches through the veils that shroud the true values of society in which we live today.”

Breaking the spell that had held three of the four companions linked in the beauty of the moment, Prostremo – who had been rummaging around in his backpack – suddenly said: “I have found the rod! Let’s go and see if Nunco’s new attitude will enable him to catch us our dinner!”

To be continued next week
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