He stood there for a long while…
High above the battle field,
Looking at the destruction & chaos beneath…
Long did he pause over the wreckage,
Long did he dwell over the ruins,
Then finally, as dusk drew blood streaks in the horizon, he turned away and walked…
“To the ocean.” He thought to himself…
It’s always been the ocean he was seeking, and never the sea!
The ocean holds a magic that no sea could ever possess…
“To the ocean.” He moved…
One step after the other…
One mile after the other…
One village after the other…
Valleys and rivers,
deserts and mountains…
he traveled long,
and he traveled lone…
And he never looked back…
As his journey drew to an end…
“& what then?”
After reaching the ocean… what then?
But he didn’t want to think about the end,
He just continued on…
Until he reached the “Great mountain by the ocean”
And his heart raced as he started climbing…
But when he reached the top,
A barren waste land stretched upon him!
An endless desert of sand… & no ocean…
He was astounded, beyond disappointment
“How can this be??!”
He screamed to his ears!
And he stood there unbelieving what his eyes saw…
After a long while he decided to climb down…
And when he reached the foot of the mountain, he could see no one about, except for one man, a man not old nor young… wearing a sky blue robe with silver and white lining, sitting by the mountain side, looking towards the desert, oblivious to the world, as if morning or reflecting some great loss…
He approached the “thinking man”, but before reaching him, the man greeted him in a warm & resonant voice, without moving or turning around…
“Welcome my friend… I’ve been waiting for you!”
He was dumbfounded even more!
He stood there speechless for a while, and then he answered:
“What? Who are you? And how do you know of my arrival? And why were waiting for me???”
Still with out turning the “thinking man” answered in a friendly manner:
“One question at a time my friend,
You have to think about your questions, to get the answer you are seeking!”
He was furious, but overcome by the man’s friendliness, he asked:
“Do I know you, kind man?”
Then, and only then, the man turned…
“Of course you do!” he answered
“You have been seeking me all your life!”
He was struck by the man’s face, it was the calmest face he ever witnessed, and seemed to carry an indefinite amount of wisdom… still that didn’t stop him from asking:
“I? Seeking you? I’ve never been seeking anyone, save Allah almighty!”
The “thinking man” smiled, and answered:
“True, you haven’t been seeking anyone, but you have been seeking something, right?”
“Yes, I have been seeking the ocean…”
The man’s smile widened and he answered in a sincere voice:
“And I’m what you are seeking!” he paused for a short while and then said:
“I am the ocean”
He was bewildered, beyond words…
But something about the man’s eyes told him that it is the truth!
Or at least he thinks it is the truth!
He fell quite for a while,
Trying to take all of that in, and make sense of it…
The “thinking man” stood silent in return, looking at him a kind & friendly look…
After what seemed like an age of silence
The “thinking man” asked:
“Can’t you recognize what you spent a life time seeking?”
Then he moved towards him…
And as he moved, his robe started moving as if it had a mind of it’s own… waving and rippling as if some invisible blow of wind was tackling it… it was flowing around him, taking shapes and forms, constantly changing, yet also maintaining it’s outline!
He backed away thinking to himself:
“What devilry is this?”
But again the man’s face -which was more visible now as he drew nearer- calmed him, his face was ageless, yet it had all age in it, and all the wisdom of the world…
And his eyes! it’s really his eyes that gave him that air of calmness about him. It was as deep & blue as the ocean itself … and it held the knowledge of old & the magic of the lore… the man’s eyes fixed him…
“But how?” he thought to himself…
“Never mind how, it is so… what I tell you is true… I’m the ocean and you have been seeking me for a life time and I have been waiting for you…” the man answered his thoughts!
Another long pause, after which, the man confused beyond reckoning and overwhelmed with all of this, asked:
“Ok! Assuming that it is true, and that you are the ocean… why are waiting for me? Why should the endless, wait for someone as trivial as I am?!”
“The Ocean” smiled to that, and answered:
“Oh! But you are not trivial my son… you are not trivial at all! You and I are equally imperative, we are both created, and we are both his creatures!
As for being endless, well, you know that no one is truly endless, save him, we are both finite & each of us will end in his own time…
It’s true that I might be greater than you in terms of years and matter, but that is not relevant here, you know better than to think that mass makes a difference!
And as for years, well years matter only if we make them count…
My dear we are equal, if I’m not on the lesser side… I marvel at you as much as you marvel at me and maybe even more…”
Baffled the man again answered:
“Ok! But why were you waiting for me?”
“You have been seeking me haven’t you? And what is sought awaits the seeker, no matter how long… that’s the way it is & that is the way it always was!
Wouldn’t you be disappointed if what you are seeking was indifferent to your arrival?”
The man thought for awhile, and then answered:
“I was seeking you, true, but not in this form! I was seeking the ocean as an ocean, not as a man!”
To that “The Ocean” gave him a long gaze, and then answered:
“Never mind the form I’m in, you were seeking me, and that’s what is important… Lets start by why! Why were u seeking the ocean?”
He answered immediately:
“Because I was seeking peace…”
“The Ocean” laughed, a soft kind laugh with no malice or daunting, a laugh that sounded like wind over glistering water, and echoed like endless waves… and then he answered:
“Son we make our own peace in this world… peace is not sought into others, it’s found within. So to say that you were seeking peace in me, well it simply means that you don’t know what you are seeking… do you know what you are seeking?”
He looked a little weary but answered:
“I told you peace and quite”
“The Ocean” gazed at him again, and now with a serious & sincere tone he answered:
“Quite you say? Is it peace & quite you seek or is it escape?”
A little ashamed he muttered:
“Is there really that much difference?”
“The Ocean” smiled again, and answered:
“You know better than that! Escape is for the weak… and weakness have never been one of your traits, you know that escape is never a solution, and can never give you peace… it’s merely a diversion, or distraction, you may say, and this can not be what you seek!
If you really want peace you must fight for it! Because peace -although might seem a simple thing to ask for- is bought dearly”
He started to get anxious, and after a moment he answered:
“I know! Of all people, I know that what you say is true… But I’m tired of fighting!
All my life I’ve been fighting for a peace I never acquired or even for seconds attained! Why can’t it be easy? Do I have to struggle until I die?”
“The Ocean” in a kind tutoring manner answered:
“No! Son, what we fight for, we will surely one day attain, and when we finally do, it will be precious to us, that we will be cautious never to lose again!
But you ask me why…
I’ll tell you why… Because that is what life is about! If peace is easy to acquire, the world would cease to be the world… and become… bliss!
We must fight for peace, but also we must choose our battles…
Tranquility comes from within, and that, my friend, you haven’t yet figured out!”
The man answered defensively:
“No! I did, believe me I did, and I tried hard to find serenity and peace within my self, but I couldn’t! It is just too hard for me, with all what is taking place outside the realm of me!”
“The Ocean” in the same gentle manner, answered:
“Ahh! But it’s not what’s outside you that you should fight! It’s your inner demons that keep you from reaching your own peace… start inwards and then out!”
“And how do you know that this is not what I did?”
At this “The Ocean” smiled again & answered:
“Because you came!
You came escaping your own demons, and thinking that you came alone, never noticing that they were always a step ahead of you! And will follow you where ever you carry them!
Son, escape is not your skill, and what we escape haunts us…”
He didn’t answer to that, and they both fell silent for a while…
After another age of silence, “The Ocean” gestured to him with his long hands and said:
“Come my friend, walk with me…” And he obliged.
And as they walked towards the desert “The Ocean” asked, now as if talking to his child:
“Although, you might have been escaping in the first place, you are too wise to cross the lands, and journey all the way down here, just to escape… you must have been seeking something else from me, right?”
Now it was his turn to smile, and he answered:
“Yes! Peace! Not sought but taught!”
“The Ocean” laughed again, and the waves echoed…
“You thought that I can teach you how to be at peace? Do you think I’m at peace?”
Baffled again, he answered:
“Are you not?”
“The Ocean” gazed at the horizon, a long thoughtful look, that might even seemed sad, and then answered:
“No! Actually I’m not… but even if I was, I wouldn’t have been able to teach you that one thing! It is the only thing that can not be taught! You must teach it to yourself…”
Now concerned rather than disappointed, he asked:
“But why are you not at peace?”
“The Ocean” with a smile that carried the same hint of sadness, answered:
“Son, that is a long story, and some might even say debate… you don’t have time for it, nor enough years in your age! And even if you did I don’t have will to discuss my state!
But tell me, really, did you truly think the ocean was peaceful, or at peace? Have you never witnessed or heard of ocean storms?
If it is peacefulness –or a fake surface peace- you seek, you should have sought a Lake or a Pond!
Not a river for rivers flood; not a sea for seas are sons of oceans, and carry the same raging waves…. and surely not The Ocean!”
Ashamed as if a kid, scorned by his father; he fell silent again.
After a while “The Ocean” in a sympathetic tone started:
“You humans think that the ocean knows no pain, no sorrow & no regrets, but that is far from true… I feel pain & sorrow more than any human do, I however never knew regret! Because unlike you, I take time and patience before doing anything… that that is not worth time to think about, is not worth doing…”
Concerned the man asked:
“But why do you feel pain and sorrow?”
“The Ocean” answered in a sad tone:
“Mostly because of man doings, but lets not get into that, you came to me for help, and wisdom not for stories of old, right?”
“Indeed” he answered.
“The Ocean” paused for a moment and then said:
“As I earlier told you, I can not teach you how to attain inner peace… but I can give you my advice nonetheless… and do not take that “which is given dearly” lightly…”
He answered at once:
“I won’t my old friend”
“The Ocean” in a compassionate manner started:
“And I believe that you won’t!
Now son I bid you, go home…
The battle you escape is of your own making, and unless you fight it, you’ll never find peace… conquer your vices & evils, and then and only then will you reach tranquility…”
The man a little afraid and troubled asked:
“What if I couldn’t defeat my demons? What if my own evil is too strong for me to overcome?”
“The Ocean” continued in the same kind manner:
“That will not happen… because your soul is too strong, you might experience hindrances & setbacks, but don’t mistake them for defeats… you can always emerge, and rebuild yourself out of the derbies of your older self!
The important thing is that you must stay on fighting until one day, you triumph”
The man stood pondering for a long while, and then in a grateful manner he said:
“Very well! Even as I came, to you I feared that this would be the right course!
I know my burden wise friend… and I’ll do as you said…
Allow me to thank you, for your advice; but I thank you more for not letting me fall where others fell…”
“The Ocean” answered back, in a humble tone:
“Thank me not my son, thank your own good self, and God for giving you it…
Go now… in haste my friend… for every minute you lose is another battle lost!
And remember… If you escape yourself, you end up losing your own very self!”
With that “The Ocean” smiled at him, one last long & loving smile, and then gave him his back and walked away…
The man, feeling a little sad, but grateful nonetheless muttered:
“Farewell to the wise… Farewell to the ancient
& Farewell to the mentors of old!”
And he turned his back to “The Ocean” and started to move towards his journey.
At the top of the “Great mountain by the ocean” he looked back for the first time in his life. And there he saw the endless blue ocean rumbling in the horizon, all the way down to the foot of mountain… he smiled and even let out a short laugh… and then started his journey home.