Suddenly a bottle flies from around the corner, kicked by the boy and his sister. The two in hot pursuit of the empty bottle to pass the time. Lost in their game, joy permeates the poverty-stricken village the children are growing up in. Weaving through the crowded bazaar, the boy and girl lost themselves in a game rather than the people surrounding them. The bottle falls perfectly in front of the boy and he strikes the plastic container with all his might. THUMP. The bottle launches off the boy’s foot, soaring, crashing down in the nearby alleyway. The girl looks at her brother disapprovingly. Before the girl has a chance to scold her brother, he is off to retrieve the bottle. The boy finds his toy in front of an old man with a familiar face. The boy reaches for the bottle when suddenly the man with the familiar face speaks.
“Boy, do you want to know your destiny?”
The boy, curious, nods and grips his bottle tight to avoid giving up his treasure as payment for the future. The old man clears his throat and sits upright. The boy sees the man with a familiar face again but this time what lies under his hood. The boy sees each crease and winkle carved into the man with a familiar face. He is tan and frail but the boy stands unafraid. The man with a familiar face holds out his fist, enclosed with a gift for the brave boy who seeks the answers to the future.
“I am Fear and you will find me in the darkness of each day.”
Reaching for his prize. The boy steps closer to the old man.
“I am Vanity and you will find me standing in the way of growth.”
The boy again steps closer to the old man.
“I am Death and you will find me on your final day after I have taken everything from you.”
The boy, entranced, ready to accept the would-be token from the man with a familiar face stops to pause. The boy takes a step back and refocuses his gaze, moving now from the outstretched hand to the hood of the old man. The man with a familiar face again speaks.
“I am Hope and you will find me in the horizon of each morning.”
The wind blows, rustling the hood of the man with the familiar face. The boy now sees the piercing ocean blue eyes of the old man. Full of warmth, the boy remains motionless, breathing.
“I am Change.” The man says. “You will find me after every storm.”
The boy stretches out his hand to receive his gift and learn his fate.
“I am Love and you will find me in your heart whenever you use the key.”
The man with a familiar face opens his hand to reveal a rusty key inside. The boy takes the key and examines the trinket. The boy asks,
“What is this for? You didn’t tell me about my destiny.”
The man with a familiar face smiles.
“This key is special. It does not open any door nor any lock. The key is not made of gold and cannot be traded for anything of value. The key is for you boy and it will unlock the best this life has to offer. Hold on to the key and you will find your destiny not in the past or future, but in the present moment.”
The wind picks up and the old man vanishes into the air from under his hood, leaving behind the boy and his belongings. The boy looks around, in his left hand the bottle him and his sister were playing with. In his right hand, the key the man with a familiar face gave him. The boy places the key in his left shirt pocket and returns to his sister with the bottle. The children resume playing and laughing together as if nothing had happened. The boy would always remember the day he got the key to his destiny.
The man with a familiar face exists in all of our lives but takes on different shapes and forms. We will encounter face the fears of the unknown, the challenges of comfort and complacency, and the ultimate realization that everything ends and life is impermanent. The man also takes shape in other ways. We will find the real treasures of life after taking a breath, patient. Change is all around us and can lead to growth and learning if we choose to embrace it. Love exists in all things and gratitude can be the key that unlocks it.
Today I’m Grateful For…
- Sharing gratitude
- Warm tea on a cold winter morning
- My family, sitting around the table together
- Clean water and texts from Cambodia
- A chance to journal and reflect
- New beginnings and embracing change
- Good health and safe travels
- My CHC and Kennedy Peer Mentors
- A good book and time at the gym
- A day to rest and recharge
- Cooking together and learning new things
- Finding and sharing new music
- Support from friends and mentors
- The warmth of the summer sun
- The sound of the train passing in still nights
- Finding new places and a summer abroad
- Liverpool Football and belief across continents
- A rainy day to walk the pier
- People who work hard and inspire others
- Finding Frank and Holly
- Warm blankets and comfy pillows
- The Boyden steps and midnight reflection
- My friends and brothers from BSU
- The little things
- The here and now
As always, check out my first blog 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.
If you’re interested in Guest Blogging for the Gratitude Journal, click (here)!
Featured image from Iceland, a crossroad in my own life.