The old man’s day was ending and as the darkness sank low over the land he began to fall into sleep. In his sleep he began a journey, one that he had thought about so often. He traveled on and on until he came to a place, a place that was the most wonderful and beautiful he had ever seen. It was one that was indescribably astonishing and one which he had never imagined could exist. Halfhearted endeavors and visions embedded neither in fact nor in faith make the trek to any faraway place seem virtually impossible but this place now seemed within his reach.
Once there he saw a face, and it was a face that he had known for many years. It was the face of his best and oldest friend. The old man began to smile and a feeling of joy came over him. It was a sensation like none that he had ever felt before. The old man knew he had found a place that he could call home.
“Hello, I’ve been looking for you,” the old man said. “Hello,” his old friend replied as she placed her hand in his. No more words were spoken for some time as the two just stood silently, smiled and stared into each other’s eyes. After a moment or two the old friend asked a question. “Why have you come here?”
The old man, at least at first, had no answer to the question. Finally, and after several thoughtful moments, he replied, “I don’t really know, but I have been searching for you and such a beautiful place as this. I would like very much to stay here and be with you forever,” the old man said as he tightly gripped his friend’s hand.
The old man’s friend smiled at him and as she also tightly squeezed his hand she replied, “You can’t stay, you haven’t been invited. The time for you to come to this place and be with me has not yet arrived. As much as I long for that time you have things to do before you can be here with me.” The old man lost his smile as he said, “I have no place to go and no one to be with. I have nothing to accomplish and I do not relish the dawn of another day. I pray that there may be some way for me to stay here with you.”
“I am not lonely without you and neither should you be sad without me,” the old man’s friend said. “These things are only temporary as are most things in life. Understand this, there is a method to what you consider to be the madness and chaos which you now perceive to permeate everything around you; have patience. And of even more importance, have faith. Resplendent opulent beauty is never fully appreciated by those without vision and devout faith.
“The realization must be accepted that there is no divinely created concoction which will make someone happy and give them a bountiful life. Life is a matter of events and choices that put people on a path that must be followed, for better or worse. Fear and insecurity tear hope from the hearts of those seeking a means to begin the search for answers to questions that abound in their minds.
“Go back now to that place we once shared and called ours and make it yours, not ours. Home must be a place that resides in the mind and heart, not on a piece of earth. Leave with the knowledge that I will, with an outstretched hand, be here waiting for you when the time is right and the invitation is extended. The years will slip away on and on and there’s a time for us and that time will surely come. Until then live a life without guilt, sadness and loneliness, and most of all, learn to embrace happiness.”
The old man wondered, was the beautiful place known to any others? “Lost Horizon” is a novel authored by James Hilton. Written in 1933 the book is best remembered as the origin of a legendary place, Shangri-La, a fictional utopian lamasery high in the mountains of Tibet. The residents of Shangri-La enjoyed peace, serenity and longevity beyond imagination. However, the tale was merely a creation based in fiction and born in the mind of James Hilton, or was it. After all, does anyone’s vision include days of endless joy and happiness.
The old man was once afraid that the directions to his old friend’s land consisted solely of words written on a map and such guidance to this utopia would only be of value if one could read, and he was illiterate. He believed that any spoken directions to the land of dreams would only be of importance to those who could hear, and he was deaf. The old man lacked hope and hope most unquestionably is the most elusive thing to garner for you must possess some of it to gather more.
When the night died and took its companion darkness with it the light from the newly born sun shone on the eyelids of the old man. As his eyes slowly opened he realized that he had returned to his world, and its stark normalcy. While he gently rubbed the remnants of the night’s sleep from his eyes the door to the room opened and a white coat clad young man with a stethoscope draped around his neck entered and approached the bed. “Good morning sir. The procedure was successful and I believe I removed all of it. It appears you won’t be leaving us anytime soon.” The old man smiled and thought to himself that his old friend already explained that he had no invitation.
The elderly man often tried to comfort those who were afraid they didn’t know how to find the beautiful place. He understood that the hearts of people everywhere were weeping, afraid the journey was impossible, but the beautiful place is there waiting for all of us. We must let our voices elevate the lives of those around us so others may dare to dream of the domain beyond the horizon.
The old man once spoke his fondest wish out loud and for all to hear; “before I leave let younger hearts bid a fond farewell to a much older one and to all I say have hope that tomorrow will be the beginning of a better time, this I pray at the end of each long lonely day.”