“What do you do?” asked the lady. “I am an architect,” I replied, a little boastfully.
She looked at me with powerful eyes boring right into my heart and spoke gravely, “That’s okay. But do you live, or are you merely alive?”
Her question stung me with an unknown ferociousness. It felt like she was trying to wake me up from my senseless stupor. Her eyes were misty, a kind I had never seen before and they kept searching my soul while she patiently waited for an answer. After what seemed like a very long time, I replied in lame defensive attempts, “Well, am I not breathing, feeling, eating? Of course, I am living.”
“Breathe? Feel? Nourish? So do the trees. You might mention walking next. But, so does he,” said she, pointing towards a dog at the end of the lane who was busy trying remove a paper stuck at the end of his tail with his snout. I was at a loss for words and even thoughts. I had failed to understand her question and my answers had failed me. What came next from her wise heart completely changed the way I looked at the world.
“Taking charge of your actions and being courageous enough to bear responsibility for the resulting reactions is what makes us better. Yet, we let ourselves slip into the humdrum and rut of a daily existance, not knowing when and how all those days pass by without any realisation. Then one day suddenly, if we are fortunate enough, we wake up to a heap of regrets at not having lived fully.
You my dear, must not let that happen. Don’t get caught up in things that your soul wouldn’t be able to take along when its finally time to bid goodbye.
Build relationships, treasure them, cherish your moments spent with your people. Give them all of yourself, expect nothing in return and I promise you won’t regret. But above all, travel my dear, travel. Step out and see the wonders that make up this beautiful planet. Open your soul to experiences, give your warmth to the fellow beings you meet on your way and live a thousand lives through them. It is always easy to love the beloved, but have you ever loved a stranger? Try that and see your world opening up to a hundred other possibilities. You have been given this one life and you must not let it simply pass away. Thus, you must take charge. Must take charge. Take charge dear, take charge.”
She had walked away into the crowd as she said those last words and I was left, too stunned to move in that small, busy lane as the words of a wise stranger slowly sunk in.