A Man’s Journey

Once there was a man who made his home in a hidden and rare world of beauty. In this world, there existed everything necessary for peace and contentment. All the waters were cool and refreshing. The trees contained many varieties of tasty and nourishing fruits. The flowers perfumed the air with soothing scents. He had never seen or experienced anything else like it before. He had discovered this rarity in the midst of a dry and sandy desert. It was his resting place, his Oasis.

He happily remained in this precious home. Over the years, he wisely chose to nourish his extraordinary world. Whenever he noticed that the plants began to droop or wither, he refreshed them with the abundant waters. Whenever he perceived that stubborn weeds were attempting to overtake the healthy plants, he patiently removed them. In return, the Oasis protected him from the scorching heat of the surrounding desert. It gave him drink when he became thirsty and provided him food whenever he desired. The soft bank near the clear pool comforted him when he was weary of his labors. He knew that he could trust the Oasis to care for him, no matter how long his stay. He enjoyed spending time cultivating his world and promised himself and the Oasis that he would remain until the end of his days.

Over time, however, he began to feel a listlessness. He began to wonder if there were any other worlds such as his own…perhaps even better worlds. Even as he sat comfortably, next to the clear water amidst the shade-giving branches of his Oasis, his mind would wander.

One day, while again allowing his thoughts to drift off to this fantasy world, he noticed something in the distance, something new and intriguing. It appeared to be another Oasis! He couldn’t believe his eyes! Until now, he was used to seeing only the healthy and naturally occurring green shades of foliage that existed in his current home. However, this new Oasis boasted an unbelievably variegated and brightly colored plant-life. The trees of this far-off vision appeared to contain an amazingly tempting variety of fruits, some of which he had never seen or even dreamed could have existed before. Since he was unable to see any weeds or undesirable growths from this distance, he wondered if perhaps the soil in the new land was somehow better than what he was used to in his current home. Maybe it was a special type of earth that wouldn’t even allow weeds to grow! He imagined that the plants and trees were somehow hardier and would be able to produce those luscious fruits without all the care-taking that was currently required of him. Imagine…no more weeding or watering, and still being able to reap a ripe and plentiful harvest! As he continued to ponder these thoughts, he became ever more drawn to the new, and ever more disgusted by and impatient with what he already possessed. What a contrast this new Oasis appeared in relation to his current one! He never even once wondered if something as incredible as what he was imagining could even be real; instead, he felt that he simply had no choice but to travel to this seemingly superior Oasis in order to build a new home for himself. After a moment of indecision, he decided to abandon the home that he had worked so long to establish. And so it was that he began his journey.

As he turned his back on his familiar home, he hesitated briefly. Just then, off in the distance, the new Oasis seemed to beckon to him. A tantalizingly sweet and strangely invigorating fragrance wafted toward him from afar. It was a fragrance totally unlike the calming and soothing scents of his familiar home, and the difference intoxicated him. Without looking back, he staunchly took his first steps away from his well-known Oasis, toward the unknown.

At first, he was invigorated on his journey by the thoughts of this different world. He was able to ignore the sweltering temperatures, because he had high hopes of what he would be gaining by his entrance into this captivating new world. Whenever he became weary, he focused his thoughts on the lush glossiness of the leaves of the new Oasis. Whenever his lips began to parch from lack of water, he imagined how cool and refreshing the waters of his new home would taste. Whenever his stomach churned from lack of nutrients, he fixated his thoughts on those exotic fruits which the undiscovered Oasis had seemed to promise. However, no matter how far he traveled, the new Oasis remained elusive. No matter how hard he strove to reach his marvelous destination, the weary pursuer always found it to be out of reach. How could this be? While in the comfort of his previous home, the new Oasis hadn’t seemed incredibly far off. Now, just when it seemed he was getting closer to arriving, off it would retreat into the distance. He had taken provisions with him from his abandoned sanctuary, but they would soon run out.

The provisions… They served to remind him of everything he had left behind. Suddenly, he remembered. He thought of the home he had rejected. The home which had a stable environment on which he could rely without question…so unlike this fleeting, fantastic vision that forever tempts and never satisfies. At that moment, he realized the folly of his actions. How foolish he had been to cast off the one place that could provide him with everything he needed for true happiness! And for what? For an intangible fantasy, a world of illusion. He had built such imaginings from this vision! The vision had promised to provide only effortless ease and pleasure; but instead, it had required him to sacrifice everything that he had of worth in exchange for the unending wretchedness it knew it would inevitably deliver.

Then, he understood that all the peace, contentment, and stability were still there, waiting for him in the place he had discarded. He yearned for the comfort and security of his own Oasis and decided to return. As his focus shifted back toward his forsaken home, something odd began to happen to the vision he had been vainly pursuing. It was disappearing…the seemingly verdant and richly decorated Oasis which had tempted him away from his secure home was melting away into the desert. Nothing was left where the tantalizing, untouchable Oasis had once been; all was barrenness, only the dry and dusty sand remained.

But wait…there was something…something that turned his stomach. It was the source of the tempting fragrance, the one which had lured him from afar and had seemed so exciting and desirable when he first experienced it. A pungent fragrance wafted through the air, certainly; however, it had now totally lost its original allure and instead thoroughly repulsed the exhausted traveler…no longer invigorating, it had become a heavy and nauseously sweet odor. The weary searcher peered ever closer, making sure that his mind was not again being deceived. There it lay: the broken and rotting corpse of a man, decaying flesh hanging from skeletal remains. Lying there as a red flag, a strong and bitter warning for any future followers. Another weary searcher who had vainly pursued this illusion, now a victim of this mysterious mistress mirage.

The filthy, disenchanted wanderer turned his back on the mirage that puzzlingly reappeared in the distance. Instead, he reset his focus onto his original place of safety, fulfillment, and peace…toward the Oasis that had proven itself to be deep-rooted, long-standing, ever true.

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