Strange Trip

By: Dr. Paul Mach, DN

A parable for you to ponder and as always it starts with…
Once upon a time…
There was a young lad who wandered the earth with the best of them, and sometimes the worst. For those of you who have ever been a young lad or even young, know what it’s like to be invincible, and if that wasn’t enough, to have all the answers. So it was, so it is. This young lad’s tromping grounds were the streets of Spain during the mid-1400’s. He did what all people have done, he tried to find and define himself, and along the way making a fortune would be ok too. He was a jack of all trades excelling in everything he did: sailing ships, navigating explorations, leading fishing vessels and being an asset to his church, community and his family. He was a man about town keeping his finger on the pulse of the community.

The difference between this man and all others was an energy he possessed a knowing about himself. Everyone saw and felt this. Young women who were drawn to him as well as the elderly who loved to share their experiences with him sensed this gift. He knew something was up, but didn’t have a clue. He tended to spend a lot of time by himself thinking and reformulating the questions and answers he had. He was confused and couldn’t make sense out of life and the things that he saw. It was tough to have beliefs and answers that did not fit into the social context. The harder part was no one wanted to hear anything that questioned their construed reality. He would sit around and debate issues with the elders of the community. He wondered why in the name of God they would go onto peaceful, loving, heathen islands and in the name of their god slaughter everyone under the guise of evangelism. He saw this as brutal homicide and swore he remembered reading something about faith, hope, charity and love somewhere. They laughed at his youth.

He wondered why taxes were so high, 30-50% of a man’s earnings. This then went to the government where they negligently spent it on war, fancy big houses, eccentric clothes, travel and feasts. This was done in the name of the people. The people just wanted to be able to buy a new horse or go on vacation, not support wars and eccentricities for others, when they couldn’t even afford to eat. But in the name of the greater good, of the few, people were taxed on earnings, tolled, re-taxed on spending, taxed on land, on goods and on the amount of taxes they paid in total. It was taxing. They ridiculed his foolishness.

He also wondered about the business purveyors. It amazed him about how the employer would gripe about those wicked field hands and factory workers. “The ingrates, I pay them and give them the privilege of working for me and yet they want more and are not dedicated.” (See Charles Dickens “Christmas Carole” for more info.) Yet after the employees’ energy was used and the host was served, the employees were discarded. In essence whatever did not serve a need is expendable. He questioned the spiritual ethic of these elders, who sat in the front of the church and extolled on their generous spiritual morals and virtues they claimed to possess. It was pathetic how people who appeared to be so together and so found were indeed sadly lost.

This energetic lad played the game of life he so opposed because there appeared that there were no other options. He excelled in all his endeavors, but always remained a rebel, never selling out and conforming to the game. He also kept his beliefs. He worked hard for these beliefs and how he saw the world and the injustices that perpetrated it. He was aspiring to be like those whom he viewed contemptuously. While being disillusioned in life, he was becoming his own illusion. This frightened him because he intuitively knew that what occurred to the least of his brethren; heathen, rich or poor affected him. It was a small world and what goes around, comes around.

One day he was approached by this quiet, mystical person who was feared, admired and loathed by many. People didn’t know what to make of a person who had no walls and was pure self-expression. Was he a monk, a witch, a prophet or a lunatic? Was he just being his true nature, standing in his own space?

This sage had a lucrative proposal to make. It involved an expedition, an old treasure map and the Fountain of Youth. The lad was honored yet apprehensive. He could feel the excitement and truth about which he had only dreamed about swell up in his chest cavity. This eccentric old gent laughed deeply as he commissioned the lad. He said, “This will be a difficult and dangerous journey. You will gain everything and yet nothing. You will find life or death, or maybe both, or neither. The hardest journey is the one we all must eventually take. It is our truth. This is your truth. It is only in dying that one can truly live. It is only in living that one can learn the lessons so that he can die or live, live or die. What is believed real is the illusion, what appears to be the illusion is the reality.” The man laughed deeply yet hauntingly. He handed our lad a large sum of money for the expedition and told him to go and do whatever he must do. It was a gift. A gift of life. What he choose to do with his life was now entirely in his hands.

Our lad walked away stunned. The first thought that crossed his mind was to take the easy way out. To retire and embezzle the money. His head went into reaction planning, selling and scheming. He had won the game. He could live as royalty. It could be over? He knew it would never be over, selling your soul has ramifications. Not selling or using your soul has ramifications also. It could be beginning? He was intrigued in this old chap, his trust in him and what he meant by living to learn your truth, dying to live, and it is all an illusion. This haunted him. And that laugh, he would never forget the sound of it echoing in his head.

As we all must do, the first step of any life journey is to take a first step. We then must decide who, what, when, where, why, and how it will or will not occur. Do we even begin? Maybe he had already begun? He decided to go on the excursion- The Fountain of Youth. Lessons to be learned, illusions to be overcome and as always new life adventures ahead awaited him.

To be continued….