A Beautiful Night · January 29, 2014
Said the boy to his father,
“Father, I wish to be a part of life. A burst of blood in its beating heart. Yet, I find myself in a quandary. My knowledge is meagre, my body is weak and my name is not known. My failures are plenty and my work is inept. What am I to do?”
The father looked at his boy.
“Choosing the right question is half the answer, son, and I see that you have picked yours wisely. Have a seat beside me and I will share with you a few things.”
The boy obliged.
“The shell must break before the bird can fly,” said the father, quoting Tennyson.
“Accomplishment comes after practice and practice requires time. Persist, there is no shame in that. Every setback is a handful of dirt that is pushed out of your way. The best gold is at the very bottom.
“Move at your own pace. Life is not a race. And yet, be driven by the knowledge that you will not live forever.
“Let your mark be one that you carve with integrity. Be certain that you carve it, but do not despair if others do not see it right away. Bringing joy to a stranger in need is more worthy than obtaining the admiration of masses of people, since you give with the former and gain with the latter.
“Live in the present. Do not be demoralized by the slings and arrows that others may throw at you. Shrug them off. Stay away from petty quarrels. Glide above them in silence. In utter silence.”
“But father,” the boy interjected.
“I own nothing!
My notepad is all I have. The other boys, they ride in luxury, they live in extravagant homes, their clothes are more adorned than mine.”
The father took off his glasses, without which he could hardly see. He leaned back into his chair and put one hand on his forehead. He pressed his eyes shut, as he called to mind those verses that had so moved him many decades ago.
“Tell me, son, does the moon appear less magnificent to you than it does to a prince from his balcony? Do the stars look less bright to you than they do to those boys whom you speak of? Do the flowers smell less fragrant to you than they do to them? Does the morning breeze not comfort you as it does them? Does your heart not skip a beat when your eyes see beauty as do theirs?
“All that you need to contribute to this awesome current of human life is available to you, as it is to them. Travel through life lightly. It is the blessing that every dying king desires.
“Make the most of the fact that you were not born into privilege. Hardship begets tenacity and tenacity begets value. Real, lasting value.”
The boy rests his head on his father’s chest and closes his eyes. He takes in the silence.
What a beautiful night.
* * * * *
The silence ends abruptly as the cassette player runs out of tape.
The boy, now a man, returns the player to his pocket and kneels down to place a flower on the unassuming block of clay before him. He passes his fingers along the name etched into it. He sheds no tears. He never did. For he lives in the present. This weekly ritual is a way to remind himself that life never ought to own him, but that he ought to command it.