The road seemed easier and my way seemed clearer as I continued my journey to the great meet. I was happy and contented. In fact, I even whistled while I walked. I guess my happiness was hard to contain, my joy abundant as I skipped and jumped down the road like a child. I had accepted the words of the old man. I had received my ticket. The gift was mine. Now I was simply following the road to see what was ahead.
No longer would I look back, but only forward. I would only travel down this narrow road to receive my prize. Or at least to find out what it was.
It was a beautiful day and I had great plans for my progress. Why, I fully intended to make the mountains by nightfall. But then it happened. I met a man.
The man was standing out in front of a large building with a single tower that loomed large against the skyline. He was dressed in black but I did notice his white collar and friendly smile.
"Welcome traveler. How are you this fine morning?"
"I'm fine, thank you," I replied, warming to his friendliness.
"Come on in and rest a spell. I've got food and drink and you do look hungry."
I hadn't anything to eat for I left that hamburger stand so quickly I forgot about eating. Then, too, I was also a little thirsty though I hadn't noticed, I was so caught up in my traveling. And so I accepted the offer of this new-found friend and postponed my journey for the time being. Oh, I had planned to make the mountains, but they'll always be there. And besides, a body has to eat, you know.
It was a pleasant visit; in fact, I stayed quite a while. We ate and we chatted and we ate some more. We even talked about running.
"Have you heard of the runners?" I asked.
"Oh, yes," he said. "But it's not for me."
"Why not?" "Well, runners come and runners go. They're always in such a hurry. Always chattering about time. Always rushing around. It's just not for me. Why, I like to talk about the why of things and the how of things. I like to look for reasons. I like to search for answers to things there aren't even questions for."
"But what about the race? Aren't you concerned with the running?"
"Heavens, no. I don't believe in such nonsense. Let the fanatics do that. After all, there's so much more to life than just running."
"Like what?" I asked.
"Well, there's doing your own thing. Breaking with tradition and becoming more relevant. There are social problems. The tensions among people. Now I know, I don't have the answers, but someone's got to do something and so I do the best I can. It will all work out."
"But what about the running?"
"Oh, forget the running. It's really not important."
"But the ticket, the free admittance. Do you have one?"
"No, but I don't need one. I'll do the best I can and live my life doing what I feel is best and I'll make it. Don't worry, you don't have to be a runner. It will all work out the same. There's no need to run."
And so we talked and talked and accomplished nothing. The more we talked, the more weary and tired I became and the more his words seemed to make sense. After all, it's hard to run and I hadn't even tried it yet. But I knew it would be. I just knew it. Besides, if there was an easier way a man would be foolish not to take it, wouldn't he? Why must a man run? I wondered. It's hard to believe in running, especially if you've never been a runner.
Still, I did have my ticket. I still believed. I still wanted to be a runner. And I knew someday I would be. But as the man says: what's the hurry?