The Wanderer, Part 3

A Dark Sky

Please read the first parts of the story here:
The Wanderer, Part 1
The Wanderer, Part 2

Part 3

There was once a boy, who decided to follow a wandering old man into the desert. The boy’s name was Tas. He plunged headlong into the desert in the apprenticeship of this wandering man to find perfect, sustainable bliss and to know god.

Tas continued to wake up in strange places. He could never quite make out if they had been to the same place twice, the old man seemed to have innumerable hiding places for eating and sleeping in the vast expanses of the desert tundra. He knew hunger, but it was never too extreme. The old man claimed it helped him to be more awake. Tas had no idea what he meant.

One night, while the old man prepared food, Tas asked for more. Fatigue had begun to settle into his muscles and body and he thought only about more food.

The old man looked at him incredulously, as if not comprehending what he had heard. He stared at Tas for a few minutes, without moving, watching. Then he scanned Tas’ body, first with his eyes, then he began to poke and prod his muscles and joints. This continued for quite a while.

Tas was finally ready to shout at the old man to stop. The sage was in the process of shaking Tas’ knees for a few minutes straight and making weird motions with Tas’ ankles, when he suddenly stopped and became distracted with something, make Tas look up from his supine position. He pulled Tas up to his feet and immediately everything went black.

Tas could only hear the old man from a distance, he didn’t quite know where he was. He began to fall, slowly at first, then a bit faster, until he realized that he couldn’t fall forever. Immediately, he tripped forward onto his hands. He looked up to see a slow trickle of water, then a tidal wave blasted against his face until….

He woke up again, this time he was shaking and dripping wet. The sage exploded with a hearty laugh and his eyes twinkled as he spoke, “You have nice vacation?”

At first, Tas was a bit angry at the sage. But he could see that dinner was ready, so he easily forgot his anger, and took a huge bite from his bowl.

The sage laughed again, “You remember, we meditate before dinner. But this time, one bite, it’s okay. Now we wait.”

Tas sighed as he chewed. He slowed down, knowing this would be his one bit for a long while. The rice was still warm for the first time since he’d left his home over 2 weeks ago and it took him a while to slowly let the completely digested rice, few vegetable scraps and a couple of nuts into his stomach.

He could tell when he finished that the sage was in a deep meditation; he swayed slightly with the wind and his breath was soft and like a gentle wave it came and went. He closed his eyes and immediately felt himself exhaling completely and again he felt the sensation of absolute freedom. Each breath became a bit deeper, a bit more meaningful, a bit louder.

He lost himself in the nothingness, and began to feel his own body sway. He sat for a long time, though he had no idea how long. Eventually, he opened his eyes to see the sage smiling, his biggest smile yet. “Now, we feast.”

Slowly, still feeling the sensation of being lost, Tas ate, one bite at a time, finally beginning to trust the old man. He could feel each bite, so filling, so powerful for his body. When he was done, after a long while of enjoying each grain, each bit of spice, he set the bowl down and closed his eyes for a few more moments, before drifting off with the wind into the sky, where he forgot about everything but the gentle glow of the stars and the black clouds that hid them in the darkness of the sky.