Part 23: The path least travelled (part 1)
2007-04-26 16:01:29 -

This week I would like to tell you a story. It is a simple story about three young men who set out to find a treasure they have been told exists, with only rough directions on how to get to it.

Now I can’t tell whether or not you may find yourself relating to one or all of these three people. You may well see some similarities and hopefully you may pick up some ideas of how you can move forward to find your own treasure, what ever that may be. You will probably recognise many of the life lessons that we have covered in this story…
Preteritus, Nunco and Prostremo were three young men who had got together one evening and decided that they were going to set out and find the infamous treasure they had heard people talk about in their hometown.

Preteritus was an interesting fellow, with a very good education. He was a great storyteller with a fantastic memory and great attention to detail. Small in height but the opposite in girth, he seemed quite furtive, always looking back over his shoulder in case someone was following him. He had been brought up to believe that it was very important that he do something with his life, to get a good education and remember the lessons that he learned.

Nunco appeared to people who did not know him as rather ordinary. He seemed very down-to-earth and practical. and he was never bored. He loved his own company as well as being able to mingle with crowds extremely well. Of medium stature and build, he had a serenity about him that was almost hypnotic and when he smiled, no one could help but smile back at him.

Prostremo, on the other hand, was an extremely outgoing fellow. He had dreams and aspirations, but never seemed to quite get the time to follow them. Blonde with piercing blue eyes, he stood at just under 1.8m in height, as well as being well toned and a real hit with the girls. A very intense person who loved gambling and talking about his predictions for the future, he loved to make plans – the problem was that things did not always seem to work out the way he planned! 

The three agreed to start out on the quest the following Saturday, bright and early. Prostremo as usual made all of the plans, told them what to carry, what to wear and of course brought maps and compasses – and even remembered the sun cream.

On the Thursday before they were to leave, Preteritus called his two friends and suggested that they set out on the Friday or Sunday instead. His reason was that he remembered a long time ago three fellows very like themselves had gone on a similar journey, starting on a Saturday, and were never seen again.
Nunco eventually reasoned with him by pointing out how different things had been back then and that now much had changed. Besides, if they kept their eyes open and their wits about them, they would be able to deal with any eventuality as it came up.

Saturday morning duly arrived, and it was raining. Prostremo, for all his planning and anticipation, had not foreseen this and was in a mood as black as the weather. Nunco managed to see the bright side of things as usual and pointed out that at least they would stay cool in the rain, and  mentioned to Preteritus that the previous ill-fated expedition began on a brilliantly sunny day.

Word of their plans had got out around the town, and as the three set off towards the hills there were thousands of well-wishers to accompany them on the first leg of their journey. Until they reached the small hills the road was large and well built, and as the weather was starting to brighten, along with Prostremo’s mood, many of the people stayed with them.

At midday, as they reached the edge of the forest at the foot of the first small hill, most of the crowd took their leave. They agreed to walk for another hour to the summit of the hill where they would then stop and have some lunch. The road was much narrower now, and by the time they reached the top there were only a handful of people left who sat down with them.

The large crowd knew that they were going off in search of treasure, but they did not know what it was, yet because it seemed to be exciting they felt they might miss out on something. Besides, that afternoon there was a big football match on – and no-one wanted to waste their Saturday afternoons when they could be sitting in the local pub, having a few pints and watching the game. By Monday, as each of them went off to work, they would have completely forgotten about the three men as they prepared for another week’s slog before the weekend came around again. They had happy-enough lives, but there was always the struggle to earn enough to do nothing on the weekends!

Meanwhile, as the three friends were eating their lunch, one of the few people who had stuck with them asked what they had hoped to achieve by finding the treasure. The three friends took it in turn to answer.
“Well I have not done all that was expected of me yet by my parents and I don’t want to have to go back to the job I was in,” said Preteritus
“I know that the treasure will transform my life and I will be able to go back with my head held high and do what ever I want,” replied Prostremo
Lastly, Nunco quietly said: “I don’t actually know what the treasure is, other than the fact it is important, however I feel that the journey, if it is remotely as enjoyable as it is right now will be rewarding in itself.”

As they got up, they said goodbye to the last of the well-wishers and started back down the other side of the hill. The going was easy and they still had a real spring in their step. 

Preteritus started to tell them of a walk he had done as a child, when he had got lost in the woods. The memory seemed to make him tremble, so it was only when Prostremo slapped him hard on the back and told him that everything would be okay, as the treasure would solve all of their problems, that he seemed to snap back to the present.

Nunco seemed oblivious to it all as he marched on, with a smile on his face, listening to the warbling of the birds and the gentle gurgling of a nearby stream. He breathed deeply savouring the aroma of the pine forest around them. He gave a small start when Prostremo clapped him on the shoulder and asked if he agreed that this was a great adventure.

Sensing that his two friends, while walking beside him, were actually in a different place to him – thinking only about what had happened or what might happen – he decided it was time to come back to the real world and be more of a companion to his fellow travellers.

After about 10 minutes of Nunco trying to educate his two pals on some of the flora and fauna around them, Prostremo and Preteritus went back to their discussion as to whether it was better to heed the misfortune that had befallen the previous travellers or just focus on the possibilities that the treasure might bring them.

As they came back out the other side of the forest, the path split before a wide lake. Prostremo consulted his map and discovered that there was an easy path that went around the side of the lake but was about five times longer than the other path, which went up a steep incline over some pretty treacherous rocks, but could well get them to the place they wanted to camp that night with plenty of time to set up their tents in a comfortable situation.
The inevitable heated debate ensued, with both Prostremo and Preteritus in violent agreement to take the long path. Because their rationale for doing so was so different, and they spent little time actually listening to each other, they could not seem to realise that they were agreeing.

Preteritus was convinced the earlier travellers must have taken the other path and fallen off the cliff, even though no-one knew what had happened to them. Prostremo, on the other hand, thought that the easy path would help them conserve their energy so that they could enjoy the treasure all the more when they found it.

While his two friends were bickering, Nunco spent some time studying the map, to see what made most sense given their current situation. Without even speaking to his friends Nunco started to walk…

To be continued next week
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