The Traveler

Many years ago a stranger walked into town. He said he was a traveler
and had no 'home'. Home, he said, was wherever he found himself.
I was just a child when he first appeared. And like most children,
I was intrigued by his manner and his words. I especially liked
his stories. Mostly because they were unique and unusual but also
because they made me think about things that I had never realized.
He had a way of 'capturing' the unknown inside of ideas that he
would present in his stories. I always felt as though he 'knew' about
things and life that the folks in town could only imagine.
I wondered how/where he had traveled to discover these.
I remember growing up and spending many hours lost in the wonder
of his stories. He was a nice person as far as people go but he
seemed unusual in his talking and his 'ideas' were nearly unbelievable.
Most of the folks in town paid him little attention. A few even shunned
him and claimed that he would cause folks to loose their values and
suggested that he be banished. He was a mixed-bag and his presence
generated either excitement or turmoil. By the time I was old enough to
make my own decisions about the traveler, he had left our town.
Before leaving I asked him about his destination. He responded in his
typical way and said; "I do not have a destination just a direction".
Now most folks were glad to see him leave and those who could
cleaned out his words from their lives. Not everything, just the
parts that were 'unacceptable'. Still too young to understand the
adult mind and its complexities, I was confused and lonely.
He was a good person and even if he was unusual, he was real.
I continued to mature and as I grew in wisdom and understanding,
I began to question the 'reality' of the traveler. Folks in town
had nearly forgotten him and only occasionally would someone
use/say the words/ideas he gave us. I remembered him and longed
for his company and his stories. The town folks had reduced him
to a 'legend/fable'. There was no one in town who could even
tell me about him. Yet still an occasion word would 'send' me
to the place where I had sat and listened to his words. I was
so moved by this traveler while the town folks seemed so 'distant' from
the reality he presented. Perhaps I was 'broken', perhaps the
town folks knew this about me as well.
As a young man, I had difficulty finding my position in the
life and purpose of the town. I wasn't excluded but neither
was I included. Looking back I now realize that I did not
understand the words of the town folks. Perhaps I was hard of hearing.
Or perhaps I was 'dumb'. In any case, I was not able to immerse
myself in the life of the town. I did odd jobs and lived in
a small house near the edge of town. Occasionally I would visit
the town square and would 'seek' consul from the elders.
Their advice was to live my life in the here and now and to
forget about the traveler. After all, the traveler is not here
and will not ever return. I asked them how the knew that the traveler would
never return. Their response was always the same.
The traveler only came to 'take' from us. Food, clothing, shelter
and companionship we gave the traveler and all that we received
were stories. Eventually we realized that the traveler was
changing our youth by filling their minds with stories and ideas
that are 'meaningless' in our world. Dreams are of little value
when you're hungry. Words do not make good clothes. Ideas will
never provide shelter. Only effort and work provide these.
We have re-constructed our town, the traveler can not re-enter
without our help.
I respected the elders advice but was aghast. To me the traveler
brought enlightenment. Now the town was 'protected' and I felt sorrow.
That day I changed my way. When I asked the elders where the traveler
had gone, they all pointed in different directions.
I left the town square and headed home. Many images swirled in my mind.
Confusion and sorrow joined to form a hollow emptiness.
By the time I arrived home, I was alone and curious.
I walked to the edge of town and peered into the darkness and the void.
I wondered where the traveler was now. I could only imagine destinations.
I remembered something the traveler once said.
The traveler never leaves home. Home is where the traveler is.
Somehow this began to make sense to me. Perhaps the town was correct.
I certainly might be broken. I did not seem to fit into the town
as others did. Certainly the others had companionship, something
I longed for but never seemed to find. I had food and shelter
but my clothes were tattered and used.
I laid down and tried to remember the traveler and found only faint
memories of another time and another world. The traveler was gone and
I cried. Why did I have to feel this way ? Why was I the only one
who missed the traveler ? I closed my eyes and accepted sleep.
The dawn came and sparkles filled the air. Glints of light tugged at my eyes.
I pulled my self up and looked into the sky. It seemed familiar but it
wasn't as I remembered it. Even my clothes appeared different.
Perhaps it was the morning light. I headed for town and found more
surprises. I was grown now. Still young but very much older.
The children were playing and they all stopped when I approached.
Tell us a story they begged. I sat on the ground and they all gathered
around me. I began to tell them about the traveler.
Life is a direction, not a destination. As the day wore on I began
to understand that I had become the traveler. Searching the emptiness
and the void for companionship.
And I understood where the traveler had gone all those years ago.
Deep inside I had found this town and its people. And I felt a desire
to share with them the stories of other worlds that exist beyond the
edge of consciousness.


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