Who was the man? What had he said to the boy?
The boy walked down the path, leaving the trees behind. An emerging sunlight still illuminated the tops of the trees ahead. Warm colors of red, yellow, and orange transformed a green canopy into a golden ceiling.
The boy marveled at the sharp contrast the image before him made compared to the dull grey of his life before.
He thought back to the world he left, to the life he left. A life with no color and no sound.
Memories flooded back. Memories empty of joy or sorrow.
He shook his head and he emerged back on the mountain path.
“The man in the woods – why had his words moved me so?” The boy thought to himself. “The ideal the man spoke of, how shall I reach it?”
On the path, the boy noticed a figure wrapped in aged rags.
As he drew closer, the man stood up and the boy recognized him; the tutor.
Before he could speak the man held up his hand. He pointed down the path to the mountains beyond and he spoke again of an ideal.
The boy was ashamed of his doubt and drew closer to the man.
“Do not doubt yourself” he said. “What you seek is down this path. Though you cannot see it’s end, you draw nearer with each step.”
“But me, a knight?” the boy sighed.
“Yes, you have died once. You are now tasked to live purposefully. The ideal you seek must be worked for. It requires dedication and sacrifice.”
“But how can I do this? I do not know the way”
“I shall guide you. I am always watching. Think of me in moments of doubt and I shall appear.”
The tutor stepped back from the boy and once again pointed down the mountain path.
Image source: https://www.reddit.com/r/Stoicism/comments/549y0w/desktop_wallpaper_of_marcus_aurelius_1920x1080/
“Midway along the journey of our life
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
for I had wandered off from the straight path…”
The boy had lead a shadow of a life. A life of sloth and idleness. No breeze ever shook his sails; caught in an everlasting doldrums. He wanted more but could never muster the momentum to get where he wanted to be. A life lived in shadow.
So he died. No ceremony, no tears. Just death.
With his death, the shadow disappeared and the boy awoke in a familiar woods; surrounded by tall trees and a carpet of green moss. The boy looked up and noticed a shaft of light peaking through the trees.
A golden light.
He had been in this woods before but the light had never been so brilliant. It danced across the tree trunks, pooling in scattered splashes across the moss floor. A smile crept across the boys face.
Then he noticed it. Tucked gently against the base of a large tree was a small stone. The boy’s name was scratched across the top and the bottom read “Remember that you have to die.”
He got up from the floor to inspect the stone when a voice pierced the silent woods.
He called himself the tutor. The boy couldn’t make out his image but immediately respected his presence. Whether it be the words he spoke or how the man held himself, the boy knew to listen. The boy had found what he desperately needed; a teacher.
As the man talked he helped raise the boy to his feet. Each word resonated with the boy and they began walking together. Before they left, the man pointed at the stone and again the boy read the words “Remember that you have to die.”
The man talked for what seemed like days and all the while they walked until they came to a clearing. The light still filtered through the trees when the man stopped talking. He nodded once and turned to return to the woods.
The boy was on his own again but knew what had to be done.
The tutor had spoken of a legend and an ideal. An ideal that burned brightly in the boys heart now.
Ahead of him were mountains and a path. The boy knew he was to take the path on his own and this caused him to stop. Doubt began to flood his mind when he stopped and remembered the image of the stone. A stone that read his name.
Memento Mori Image Source: http://illusion.scene360.com/art/80149/skull-art-memento-mori/