The young and the old man


Once upon a time – and for the first time it happened many years ago and since then it happens from time to time again and again – a young man was running along the road of his life, looking around with a joyful smile. He had a small hiking bag on his shoulders, shoes that had not yet had time to wear out were visible on his feet, his body was full of strength and vitality, and his soul had not yet experienced grief. The young man’s eyes sparkled with happiness from the feeling of freedom, and his feet easily, as if barely touching it, glided along the ground, not clinging to rocks and driftwood. His path was an easy one.

On the first day of his journey, he met an old man walking toward him along this road. Swaying slightly from side to side, leaning on the bent from the arduous journey crutch, this aged man barely moved his legs. The young man noticed a huge knapsack behind his shoulders – it was so big as if this elder was somehow strangely carrying a load for ten. The elder’s gaze was lowered down to the stones lying in his path, and his legs, bent from fatigue, carefully and unhurriedly stepped over them. Sweat was slowly trickling down from the elder’s forehead, and it was clearly obvious that the continuation of this path was costing him considerable effort. His path was difficult.

Surprised by what he was seeing, the young man called out to the elder coming towards him and asked where he was going on his earthly journey.

“I’m going to myself,” the elder calmly answered him. “And you’re going closer to me.”

“Do I know you?” the young man was surprised.

“Do you even know yourself?” the elder asked him questioningly in response.

“What awaits you at the end of your journey? What are you aiming for?” the young man asked him out of curiosity.

“The beginning of a new one,” the elder answered briefly, moving a stone that was hindering him with a stick.

“Isn’t it hard for you to keep walking? For some reason it seems to me that you are carrying not only your own but also someone else’s burden,” the young man seemed to have mercy on this stranger.

“Isn’t it easy for you to stand idly in one place and keep talking to me?” the elder raised his eyebrow as if in a gesture of amazement.

“Why are you traveling all alone?” the young man did not let up with questions.

“Because not everyone can be called a close one,” the elder sighed, wiping a tear from his eyes.

“May I help you at least a little?” suggested the young man.

“We are going by different roads towards each other. By helping yourself to become better, you will help me as well,” the elder replied with conviction.

“To tell the truth, I didn’t understand much of your strange speeches, stranger,” the young man threw up his hands. “But I wish you a safe journey!”

“And I wish you the same,” the bent elder answered him with a smile.

With these words, the young man and the wanderer he met started moving towards each other once again, but exactly at the moment when they finally caught up, the elder stepped right at him – and suddenly disappeared, as if he had vanished into the morning haze as if he had not yet existed. The dumbfounded young man rubbed his eyes for a long time and looked around again, hoping to see somewhere at least the receding silhouette of a mysterious stranger, but was unable to do so.

“I’m going to myself,” his inner voice whispered softly to the young man. “And you’re going closer to me…”