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This is the story of a man I would define as a seeker. A seeker is someone who looks for something, but not necessarily someone who finds it. Nor is someone who necessarily knows what they are looking for, is simply someone for whom life is a quest.
One day, the seeker felt he should go to the city of Kammir. He had learned to listen to these feelings coming from an unknown part of himself, so he left everything and started his trip. After two days of walking by the dusty roads, he spotted in the distance the city of Kammir. Just before reaching the town, a hill that was at the right of the path caught his eye. It was a wonderful green upholstered and had a lot of trees, birds and lovely flowers, completely surrounded by a kind of small polished wooden fence. A bronze door invited to enter.
Suddenly, he forgot about the city and succumbed to the temptation to rest there for a while. He crossed the doorway and began walking slowly through the white stones as they were distributed randomly among the trees. He rested his gaze as a butterfly in every detail of this colorful paradise. His eyes were those of a seeker, and perhaps that is why he found on one of the stones, this inscription:
Abdul Tareg, lived 8 years, 6 months, 2 weeks and 3 days.
He was a bit moved when he realized that the stone was not just a rock but a tombstone. He was sad thinking that a child so young was buried there.
Looking around the man realized that the next stone also had an inscription. He went to read it, saying:
Yamir Kalib lived 5 years, 8 months and 3 weeks.
He was terribly shocked. This beautiful place was a graveyard and every rock, a tomb.
One by one, he began to read the headstones. All had similar inscriptions, a name and the exact lifetime of the deceased. But he was terrified when he discovered that the person who livedlonger didn’t exceeded the 11 years. Overcome with a terrible pain, he sat and began to cry.
The caretaker of the cemetery passed by and came over. He looked the man crying in silence for a while and then he asked him if he was crying for a family member. No, no family – replied the seeker. What happens with these people, and what terrible thing is there in this city?. Why are so many dead children buried here? What is the horrible curse on these people, which forced them to build a cemetery?
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The old man smiled and said:
“You can calm down. There is not such a curse. What happens is that here we have an old habit. When a young man turns 15, his parents buy him a notebook like this one I have here, around my neck. And it is a tradition among us that from there, every time you enjoy something intensely, you open the book and write it down:
At the left, what was enjoyed
At the right, how long did the joy last
You met your girlfriend, and you fell in love with her. How long was this huge passion and pleasure lasted? A week? Two? Three and a half weeks?
And after that…the excitement of the first kiss, the first kiss which was a wonderful pleasure, how long was it?, Was it a half minute kiss? Two days? A week?
What about the pregnancy or the birth of their first child?
And the marriage of your friends?
And the most desired travel?
And the meeting with the brother who returns from a place far away?
How much did the best of these situations last? Hours? Days?
So we write down on the notebook each time we enjoy each moment.
When someone dies, it is our tradition, to open the notebook and add the time enjoyed, and then it is written on the grave.
Because that is, for us, the one and only time lived.
Written by Jorge Bucay
Note: I borrowed the translation of this beautiful story from Mind Post Inspiration
A few words about Jorge Bucay
Jorge Bucay is a gestalt psychotherapist, psychodramatist, and writer from Argentina. Jorge Bucay is arguably the most well known Argentinian writer working today. His books have been translated into 32 languages and have sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. He is the recipient of Argentina’s most prestigious literary prize, publisher of a popular mental health magazine, and a frequent host on radio and TV.
In the course of his life, he has worked in many different kinds of jobs like salesman, clown, doctor, actor, radio collaborator, television host and more. He currently defines his job as professional helper. He divides his attention between attending therapeutic teaching conferences, which have taken him around the world, and the writing of his books, which he considers therapeutic tools.