Part 27: The path least travelled (part 5)
2007-05-24 15:41:48 -

Just because we don’t know that something exists does not necessarily mean that it is not actually there. Indeed, our three friends have discovered that the three earlier travellers, who had been presumed lost, are alive and well. 

In an instant, many of the fears of failure that Preteritus was entertaining have been proved to be without foundation. Prostremo is already looking into the future again by asking if the treasure their predecessors found has met their expectations. Of the three, Nunco is the most relaxed since he is firmly rooted in the present, while his friend Prostremo is always searching for answers in the future and Preteritus spends his life fighting the demons of his past.

As our three friends sat down, sipping their tea, Santiago – one of the three travellers once thought to be lost – continued his tale. “It is important before I start that you all really want to hear our story,” he said. “If any of the three of you is unsure about knowing the outcome, then will I not tell any of you about our journey or the treasure!”

“Indeed,” he continued, “unless you all have the same burning desire to find this treasure, no matter what you believe it actually to be, I cannot tell you. And what is more, you are probably also wondering what we have done with the treasure as well. So before I start to tell you our story, let me ask you the following question. Do you know what you are looking for? I mean do you know exactly what the treasure you are seeking looks like?”

“Yes!” shouted Preteritus and Prostremo simultaneously, while Nunco said “No.” His friends, who had been so sure what they were looking for only moments before, started at Nunco in amazement. 

The third traveller, a man of medium build balding slightly whose name was Andreas, interjected: “How will you recognise the treasure when you find it?”

Preteritus and Prostremo were silent, pondering this question, but Nunco answered. “Because it will let itself be known to me.”
”I think,” he added hesitantly.

Nunco, a man of few words who had never seemed unsure about anything before, continued: “I feel intuitively that there is something I need to find and I don’t yet know what it is. By being with my two friends I am already finding something amazing in their company. I can’t however put my finger on what exactly the treasure is. I feel that to try and understand it now would be like running after a rainbow to find the pot of gold.

“I normally know exactly what I want and set out to achieve it. And yes, I do want to find the treasure. But now that you ask, it seems almost amazing to me, that I have not clearly identified the reason for my journey. And yet again I know I must keep going. Does that make any sense to anyone?”

Preteritus and Prostremo looked at each other curiously.
“My apologies, my friends,” said Santiago. “I really seem to have opened a can of worms here. But don’t let that upset you, as we were in the exact same position ourselves, which leads me back to my story.”

He was about to continue when Preteritus suddenly got up and ran back along the path that they had come from. Nunco ran after him, while Prostremo stayed where he was and asked Santiago to continue with the story.

“I cannot continue,” said Santiago, “because I must tell it to the three of you or none at all. And what is more, you all must deeply want to know what we found.”

Meanwhile Nunco, out of breath, finally caught up with Preteritus back at the mountain stream that they had passed earlier. “What is up, my friend?” he enquired, looking at his travelling companion with concern.
“I have ruined it all,” said Preteritus. “I just don’t want to hear what it is they have to say. Maybe their treasure is different to ours; maybe knowing what they found will mean that what I am looking for will not have the same magic.

“Oh, why did I run away? Now they won’t tell us at all, and I have ruined it for you and Prostremo. Especially him; I know he wants to know, he always wants to know everything, it’s like he wants his whole life planned out – isn’t it, Nunco?”
“And what is important in your life, Preteritus?”

“I want to avoid making the same mistakes that I have always made. I go over and over them in my head, it’s as though I feel I can undo the past if I focus on it enough.”
“And can you? ”

“Okay, Nunco, I know, you are always suggesting that I should enjoy where I am right now. But come on, get real, how can I possibly be happy right now? Look what I have gone and done, I have just ruined it for everyone! Oh, I wish I hadn’t. Oh, why did I do it? I am always making a mess of things, aren’t I?”

“How has running out here, apart from making me feel knackered, actually harmed anyone?” aid Nunco.

“Because now we will never know what treasure these guys found.”
“Is that important?”

“Well, I guess it was for Prostremo, I saw the look he gave me; I bet he is right now trying to persuade Santiago to tell him the story. He always does that, doesn’t he? He might have even set off already to get a head start on us.

“In fact,” added Preteritus, “that is probably why I didn’t want to hear about it at all. What If I had been wrong and Prostremo was right? I would never have heard the end of it. In fact I don’t know why I am feeling guilty at all, it really is his fault.”

“His fault?” queried Nunco.
“Okay, so I can’t really blame him, but it would be a heck of a lot easier if I could, wouldn’t it?”
“Would it be easier because then you would not be blaming yourself and thus you could avoid what we often classify as guilt?”

“Okay, you’re right Nunco, I can’t blame him at all, I just hate feeling guilty, because I know it is really my fault and that feeling really burns one up.”

“So, decide now not to feel guilty then. After all, we can never now know what would have happened since it has all passed, so does feeling guilty make you feel better?”
“Of course not, how could feeling guilty make anyone feel good? ”

“You are right, you can never feel good feeling guilty – so maybe instead, you could start looking at what good can come of this. Do you want to give that a try? ”

“Hang on Nunco, are you saying I should just forget all about this and treat it like it never happened?”

“No,” he replied. “I am asking you what lesson you can learn from it, as a way to actually make you feel better.”

“Well, if we knew what the treasure was and we did not want it, we would have nothing left to strive for,” mused Preteritus.

As Preteritus started to relax and start thinking about what good could come out of his bolting, the two of them headed back to the others. Preteritus actually felt himself looking forward to collecting Prostremo and continuing on their adventure. Nunco started thinking how important it was that no matter what it is you seek, you can still live and enjoy each moment.

Maybe part of the treasure was the journey itself – after all, without winning the Lotto you can’t suddenly materialise 1m euro out of the air, you actually have to work for it. The more you work for something that you truly love doing, the easier earning your riches will become.

Nunco was starting to share these thoughts with Preteritus as they rounded the corner. When they returned to the others, however, they found only the three travellers. Prostremo and Electra were nowhere to be seen…

To be continued next week
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