I was quite young when he showed up. I first sensed him while meditating, then I saw him. A white long beard, with a little hat and small eyes that sank into his face while he laughed. He looked about 80. And he kept laughing. It wasn’t a crazy laugh, more of a little grin, like he was constantly amused.
He asked me am I happy.
How to answer such a simple, but philosophical question? In that time I was finishing my psychology degree and that was one of the many questions without an answer. And that is what I told him. His eyes just sank a bit more while he was smiling and laughing.
I wasn’t sure what I thought about his appearance in my life. He seemed nice, and at first I thought he was just a figment of my imagination. I was new to meditating and wasn’t sure whether everyone gets an opportunity like this.
After answering, he left and reappeared a year later, having already been forgotten. He asked me again was I happy. By then, I had been working for a year, and I was just about to sign a contract with a big company to be their human resource consultant. The job that fulfilled me completely, but left me with no free time. I told him that I don’t know if I am happy and that I’m still thinking it over. His eyes sank, he nodded and disappeared.
Five years had passed before he turned up again. I was just waiting for my second child to be born. I was waiting in front of the delivery room, waiting for the doctors to invite me in, so I can witness the birth of my daughter. Trying to calm myself, I began meditating when my old friend appeared and asked me the same question. I had been working for that company for a few years, and had a reputation there, along with a lot of money saved up. Our son was an amazing child, healthy and happy, and now I was waiting for my daughter to be born. I had an honest relationship with my wife, full of respect and love, we rarely argued. Last year we took out a loan to buy a beautiful house. For now, I was satisfied with my life. But was I happy? I couldn’t answer that question. I worried if the baby was going to be fine. I hoped to progress further in my company, to be able to repay our loans and pay for my children’s education. Because of those hopes and worries, I wasn’t sure what happiness was supposed to look like. His eyes sank, this time he even laughed a bit, I heard him with my inner hearing, he waved and left.
I had already forgotten about him, ten years had passed. I was sitting by my mother’s hospital bed, she was dying of cancer. She wasn’t awake, and I could only hope that she felt my presence and wouldn’t die alone. As I closed my eyes, he came and asked was I happy. I looked at him like a crazy man and asked what sane person could be happy in these circumstances. He didn’t say anything, he just watched me intently with his deep eyes. I felt a block of ice melting from my heart, and tears stream down my face. For the last few years, I was quite stressed, and it was as if all of my troubles began to release with those tears. After I cried, he put his palm on my forehead. I felt myself expanding and my consciousness connecting with everything around me. I felt that everything was me and that I am everything. Peace came into my being. After that, my mother’s energy left her body and I felt relief, for her and for me. For a while I sat next to her body, not calling the doctors yet, remembering all the beautiful moments I spent with her. My friend then asked me again was I happy. I couldn’t answer. I told him that I didn’t know, that I felt confused. His eyes sank, his laughter was warm and honest, and he left.
Forty years had passed since that. I was already old and lying in my bed. I was sick. I knew my end was coming. My wife died ten years ago, since then I have lived alone. My son lived on another continent and we mostly talked online. My daughter lived with her family in the same town and came to visit me often, even though I told her every time to not worry about me and to live her own life. The outside was beautiful. I heard birds through my window and watched the sun enter the room. I felt peace in my entire being. I surrendered to the moment, and felt each cell of my being surrender to itself. I felt that I finally recognized myself, as if I finally understood my presence. It is then that images from my life started coming back, first of childhood, then school, work, meeting my wife, my son and daughter being born, family life. In the midst of all that I also felt all of the worries and fears I burdened myself with, but now they did not have such power. It was as if I connected to the wisdom which I spent all of my life hiding from. I remembered what my grandfather said, when I was very young. He would watch me play and return home angry, not having scored a goal. He would look at me and say “If only I had this wisdom while I was this little”. I had never understood it, I thought of myself as pretty wise back then.
Now I was lying in the bed, in that old body that prepared for its final sleep, and I felt myself connecting again to my wisdom, to my energy that was before this body, and that will be after it. I felt how much fears have controlled me my whole life, how removed I was from myself, from life, eternally searching. I looked through the window at the tree outside, a bird was chirping while another one jumped next to it. The colors became stronger, and I saw clearly the green of that tree. I had watched it often through the window, but it never was so green. I even heard the bird more clearly. Everything became more pronounced. It had always been, but now was the first time I was really paying attention.
As I was lying there, observing that scene, I felt tears running down my face. Not of sadness, but of happiness. I remembered my friend and for the first time I knew I had an answer for him. Yes, I am happy.
I heard a laugh, felt his presence, and then met his eyes as he welcomed me.
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