The Lesson

The Lesson

By David Adams

I found myself in a most beautiful place, with new grass under a canopy of oak and poplars; with a view of the lake no one had ever seen before. An aerated stream runs along the left side. The sound of the water is hypnotic. Greens and browns, and the steel blue gray of the water.

I am young and small and know nothing of this world, and feel safe in this spot. The trees protect me from the rain; the grass protects me from the cold earth. I feed upon what is provided for me, and I dare not take what I cannot use. This spot takes care of me, and I take care of it. It will never spoil or go away and I shall not die, until it is time.

The beauty of this spot awes me. I am thankful for this place, even though I’ve never known another. Time passes; and someone approaches. For a moment, I am frightened. Who else could know of this place? The stranger nears, and I can make out small details: brown leather jacket, green trousers, beige shirt. As he gets closer, I begin to recognize my visitor; he is me, 25 years later. He smiles when he sees me. I am the one he has come looking for.

“Did you look long?” I ask.

“Well”, he replied, “that’s a tough question. You see, I’ve been looking forever, but I didn’t know for what. But as soon as I realized I was looking for you, you were not hard to find at all. I knew you would be here.”

“It’s so good to see you!” I told him. “I thought I’d never see you again.”

“I wondered the same thing.” He said.

He held me in his arms, he was so big! I felt so warm.

“Tell me things.” I said.

“Ok.”

And then he told me things. I didn’t have to ask for anything, he knew just what to tell me. “You will always be loved, don’t ever question that. I will always love you, and take good care of you. You have nothing to fear, no matter what. I will always be there for you and you don’t have to return my love. It is yours to keep forever.”

“But won’t you get mad if I give it away?” I asked.

“No, because love is for giving, not for keeping locked up forever, no matter how often you give it away, you will always have it, forever. I give it to you forever, and you give it away forever, and you’ll never be without it.”

“Wow.” I said.

“And you don’t need to look anywhere else for this love, just come to me; I’ll be there for you. The world is a very strange place, with some very screwy ideas. And to survive intact, we need a code to live by. Are you ready?”

“Yeah,” I told him. I had the sensation I was going to learn something very important. I was so excited; I could feel the blood rushing to my head. I wanted his words to sear into my brain and become an indelible part of me.

“First of all,” he began, “Listen. Listen to everything: The waterfall the wind, the birds, fire, mourning doves, dogs, music of all kinds. The frogs as they serenade you each evening. Listen to the sound of the shooting star, the barking of foxes. The panic of chickens, as the golden eagle flies by. Hear the eagle soar. When you’ve heard all this and more, then you’ll be ready to listen to people. But not before. If you hear all this and more, you will know what Is real, and cannot be fooled.

Second, see. Observe, take nothing for granted. Is the sky blue? Go check. It may be ochre, or white gray, or red or purple or yellow or white; a pure intense white, or maybe even black, with white dots sparkling. See the tentativeness of the mourning dove as you listen to its somber tones. See the whippoorwill as its day long song wafts by. See the vultures’ ugly leather head as it soars by. See the flowers, each and every one; and feel your spirits rise as you do each and every time. See the fox pups play. Observe how a horse reacts to you. When you approach a strange dog, find out where their ears are.

Look into the heavens, find Orion’s sword. Peek into a nest, what color are the eggs? How big? What kind of bird is it? Know! By sight and sound. Look for deer in the woods. Know and see tracks. See things no one else does. See it all. Observe and retain.

Third, touch things: felt, velvet, bone, rock, sand, fur. Feel things; heat cold. They are all good, and all feel good. Roughness is invigorating. Smoothness is soothing. Fire is warming and cold snow is refreshing.”

I had no questions at all. I understood! I loved this man, and he was everything I wanted to be, and he was sharing his secrets with me. I was thunderstruck!

“And finally,” he said, “don’t be afraid of people. Some are very good, some are not. Listen to yourself. Obey your instincts. You will be fine. And don’t fear women. They are like men only different. I know your pain. That is why I’ve come all this way to see you. It will be all right because I’ll never go away. I’ll always be there, whenever you need me. Ok?”

“Ok.” I said with great joy filling my heart. I was a little kid with the secrets of the universe locked in my heart. My hero stood up, and I followed suit. He hugged me and told me he loved me. I felt it. He smiled and waved and said, “Remember, anytime. I am here for you.”

I felt a little trepidation as I said, “I’m afraid it will be soon.”

“I’m counting on it.” He said with a smile.

I watched as he left, taking a different path out. “Never go out the same way you came in,” I said to no one in particular, “keeps the predators guessing.”

I sat back down on the soft grass, smiling broadly. It was almost a shame no one else could see it; but they probably wouldn’t have understood. Just then, as I focused on the lake, a golden eagle swooped down to the surface and plucked a nice rainbow trout from the water. Its wings beating heavy from the weight of the fish, it flew into the trees and disappeared with dinner.

“Perfect.” I thought.

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