The morning sun shone brightly on the road and my journey through the forest was easier and more pleasant than my hours of trial in the darkness.
As I passed out of the forest I came to a little town crowded with busy people. Now I would find the runner, I thought, for there were still no exits and I knew he had to pass this way. He had to, there was no doubting it. In fact, he might even be here in this very town.
I was excited, to say the least, for I was drawn to follow but not really sure of the reason why. If I could find the runner, I could find the answer.
I began to ask everyone I met about the runner, but no one seemed to know anything. No one even seemed to care.
Finally, I stopped at the first hamburger stand, figuring that even a runner needed nutrition. The proprietor just stared at me when I asked my questions. One of the waitresses told me that the owner has no love for the runners. "They always cause trouble," she said. "Why, they run in and out, causing people to follow them. It's mighty disturbing to the customers and really plays havoc with the dinner hour. No, the owner doesn't like runners."
Well, I was in a quandary. Again I didn't know what to do. So I turned and slowly walked through the town, head down, just trying to think.
There was an old man sitting on the curb beside the road. He watched me as I approached.
"Sit down, sonny," he said. "Come and sit with me. You look like you need a rest."
And so I sat with him.
"Where are you headed, sonny?" he asked.
"I was following the runner but I don't know where he went."
"Which way does the road go?" he asked.
"Why, that way," I replied.
"Then why not continue in that direction and see what you find?"
"But, why? Why should I continue? No one else seems to care."
"But you care."
"Then continue. You have your ticket don't you?"
"Why, yes, I have my ticket. How did you know?"
"It's easy to tell. Besides I was just like you once. A runner passed me on the road and told me to follow. I, too, had a ticket. And I followed."
"Did you find him? Did you ever find the meet?"
"Yes I found him. I found the meet. I even became a runner."
"Yes, so you can see I know what I'm talking about. And you, too, will understand. You, too, must become a runner."
"Can I? Can I become a runner and race through towns and forests and run throughout the earth on swift feet?"
"Yes, my son. You can. But remember, there's more to running than just running. You will learn. You must learn."
"But how can that be? A runner runs. He has to. A runner must run to win."
"You'll see, my son, you'll see. But first you must continue. You must find your gift, you must show your ticket to gain admittance."
"I will, I will continue."
"Good. But hurry. You aren't ready for distractions. You aren't prepared. You must go, continue down the road and never leave it. Never take your eyes off the road and never let your feet wander off the straight and narrow path."
"I won't," I said. "I won't wander. I'll find my gift. I know it."
"Good bye, then," he said. "Good bye. I'll remember you and your quest."
"Thank you, thank you so much for showing me the way."
"You're welcome. But there's no need to thank me, that's my purpose in life -- to show you the way."
"Good bye, then. Good bye and -- and thanks." And with that I was off again on my quest to find that which awaited me. I was not sorry to leave the town of Hustle and Bustle. Not sorry at all. In fact, I think I was glad to leave.
All those people flitting around with no purpose. No purpose at all. Just doing things, but accomplishing nothing. It's no wonder the runners continue to run through the town without stopping. Why, even I was caught in the same rat race. Jumping from one person to another, asking questions but receiving no answers. At least not until I met that old man.
It's funny, though. He was waiting for me. He asked me questions, but he also gave me answers. He pointed me in the right direction. He took time to help.
Yet, he said he was once a runner. So he knows what it's all about. He recommended that I continue. He knows and he pointed the way. But I still don't understand his words about running. What was it he said? There's more to running than just running. Why, that's silly. Runners run. That's all there is to it.
At the top of the hill, I paused to take one last look at the town below me. I'm not sure why I bothered. Why, all the people were running around helter-skelter, almost without reason. They were so hopeless.
Then my eyes settled again on the old man sitting on the curb. Already he was talking to someone else. Already he was issuing instructions to a new listener. Already he was pointing the way to another wayward soul.