There lingers in every mind memories that will never blemish. In the most anodyne moment one might find a detail, a trifling aspect somehow significant enough for the very instant to be conserved in ones memory, always. Why? One may perhaps ignore the precise reason. Yet the vague, rather eerie remembrance often bears an indistinct teaching.
The beginning of a cold autumn. A pale grey sky watching serenely over a certain European port city; an antique town, almost sleeping in the early evening as if resting from its extensive centuries of history. And me, belligerent ten years old pacing through the disordered streets of stone. The air smelled of salt, and rose sole noise the seagulls shrieks. The walls were of uneven rock, the roofs of greenish copper, and there lay about an air of obsolete majesty. The pubs joined peaceful homes, standing along the widening or narrowing avenues leading each to a place of similar aspect or so would I then suppose. I cannot recall yet any names, my young spirit certainly abiding no interest in recording superficial facts regarding the environs.
Alone, yes, alone. I remember my mind bellowing in disarray, most likely after a shallow argument with my parents. A modest runaway, probably. Ah, there is no doubt I must have worried the poor fellows: the child, bare, lost in a city that was neither his, nor theirs! But, now, is an infantile spirit not doomed to recklessness?
As for the very business concerning our presence on the site at the time, if more than tourism, I cannot tell; but of tourists there were not so many surely, as autumn well settled, it was not the busiest season of the year. Thus, my angry steps met no crowd to observe and no diversion to my resentment. The further from my cursed mentors, the better. And one street led to another. Was I seeking the splendid sight of the ocean, or was it by a mere extent of luck that I reached the dock, I may not say; point remains that I found my young self wandering in the harbour. There floated no huge wooden vessels, as might I have hoped, but a series of small, frail and colourful fishing boats. As the flagrance of fish and salt intensified, I gradually became anxious of making my way back home if any home there was in my parents brace.
Whatever brilliant intellect I possessed, I stayed on position, hesitant as to the way to take. I figured, possibly, that they would catch me back in a minute. My heart tightened with every passing instant.
It was then I acknowledged the company of an old, old man. The figure was of rather impressive size, seated on an imposing crate and smoking an old fashioned pipe. There was in his large hat, his blue worn out coat and his immense hands an air of sailor, an aroma of sea. And in his sparse white beard glided an aura of wisdom. Enough, that is, to captivate my inexperienced eyes. His, though, did not budge. His gaze stared straight into the infinite waters where the sun was beginning to set, spreading a hue of gold in the clouds. I walked slowly, and sat by his side. The elder sage, for under my stare he embodied nothing else, stirred a faint smile at my approach, his neck reposing yet still.
Minutes passed. The breeze escorting the impending evening had me somewhat cold. A seagull landed on a nearby crate. I began to feel uneasy. I was lost, yes, in peril as well. Why should the sky darken and my parents suddenly very dear not materialize?
-What brings you, young man? He said, abruptly. His voice was not tired and old. It was strong and comforting, but shocked a nervous tremble into me. Still, his head had not stirred.
My heart stumped faster. Water slowly was making its way to my eyes.
-Im lost, my vision blurred a little. My pride shattered, already my anger was old and elapsed. The world was not nearly the same as it had been under my blind escape.
-Is a man really ever lost under the sky? he murmured, as to himself, and spoke, son, there is no need to worry, he turned his body over mine, tearing creaks from the woody seat, look, the sea is infinite! But you, little one, cannot be too far from where you should be. Simply watch, he talked slowly as if weighing every word, and pointed with his huge finger at the horizon, returning to his observation with awe as if discovering the sunset for the first time.
Was he then not to help me? I did not grasp, at all, the meaning of his words, but they seemed so useless. I was deep in despair. I watched the sea, which I had only really glanced at before. I forgot my trouble, if only a little. The scene was gorgeous. But the feeling lasted a scanty instant.
The old man did not seem so wise any more. Even, I regarded him at this point as utterly senile.
He turned to me again, observing my sorry little body with a subtle smirk.
-Everywhere, there is beauty. And where beauty lies, all that a man needs is a peaceful mind. Let you not worry, if help comes not, I shall be there. For now, open your eyes and have them dry, he spoke very slowly pausing incessantly as appeared to be his wont , see! And you will not be lost. Free. Glad! There was a ring resembling bliss in his voice, as if he had been unfolding eagerly a precious secret.
I did not get it; he spoke as to an adult. And in any case, I was most certain he made no sense whatsoever. Yet I remember almost every word, for I hung to each with sincere faith and much despair. I realize now he was in fact a little cracked, in a conventional point of view.
With certain trouble he stood up and entered the crumbling house just behind. I did not care. I was sinking to this point where I accepted the fact I was to perish, lost so that there was nothing to be done. I watched the sea and felt it was all not so significant.
On his feet the old man had lost some of his charisma, struggling to fetch me a cover. The piece of cloth was old and smelled of dust. But it was warm enough. Nevertheless, I remained fairly uncomfortable. I must have then wished for my bed.
My companion landed heavily on his crate, with a blast and a sigh. He began talking immediately;
There is pleasure and beauty to be created from every moment. Every second of life, remember that.
I do remember.
There was more, maybe, I cannot recall. My parents found me in the end, but I have this conviction the old man would have taken care of me somehow if they had not.
Both were close to tears and mother embraced me quite tightly. They talked briefly to the old man.
And as we were leaving, he said swiftly, there is some moments more beautiful than others, and he grinned.
Against all purpose I enlightened his existence, undoubtedly.
He was a happy fellow, that he was.
Here lingers a memory that will never blemish. And the past have me shaped.