Shortly after midday he had reached his destination and he sat on a boulder in the shade by he side of the splash pool at the foot of the waterfall. It could not be considered a spectacular waterfall by any means, the falls were no more than forty feet high and the stream that made them was rarely a raging torrent, but that was not important. What had made this place so special to the old man was the peace and tranquility that it gave to him. It afforded incredible views across the valley and to the mountain peaks around. Save for the sound of the falls, it was peaceful, undisturbed. It had become a place of quiet meditation, a place of refuge and of solace. The old man had spent many nights camping here under the stars, but today, he planned to be home for dinner. He had a date with cold beer and a pot roast that he did not wish to miss.
The old man surveyed his surroundings taking in the stunning view, the blue of a cloudless sky, the peaks of the mountains,the trees and bushes that grew on the mountain side, the rock boulders, the deep pool of icy cold water, the white mist of spray and the stream of never-ending water that cascaded down the mountain side, creating an arc of multicoloured light in the afternoon sun. A realisation hit him and the old man smiled. And that smile became a broad grin that threatened to tear apart the old weather-beaten leather of his face. The grin become a laugh and the old man sat alone on his boulder, chuckling to himself. He was experiencing a deep connection to everything that was around him. In a single moment, he saw everything in a vision of startling clarity. He saw the life that he had led and he realised that he was there, in that moment, because he had chosen to be. He was there because he had gone in pursuit of his dreams. He knew that the feelings he was experiencing at that moment in time came because his heart was happy and content. And because of that, he was experiencing a deep connection with everything that was around him. A thought came to his head, "I am the rock on which I sit, I am the water in the pool, I am the trees, I am the mountains, I am even the sun in the sky! I am in everything and everything is in me." It was a powerful thought and as soon as it occurred to him, he felt the truth of it. And then a voice spoke beside him.
"It's always nice to hear a person laugh.", the voice said softly, "What was so funny?"
Startled out of his reverie, the old man turned to see that the voice belonged to a young girl, who was sitting on the boulder next to his. He was taken aback with surprise but managed to hide it quickly. How had she managed to get there unnoticed he wondered? His hearing was not what it once had been and he surmised that probably she had arrived when he was lost among his thoughts. He turned so that he could look at her properly. She looked young, which was no real surprise as most people appeared young to him these days. Her hair was a golden blonde and was swept back behind her ears, falling freely down her back and framed a face of fair complexion. She was wore a simple white linen dress, cinched at the waist with a cord. She was pretty he decided, the kind of girl he would have liked to buy a drink when he had his youth. What struck the old man as strange however, was that her feet were bare, which might explain how she was able to sneak up on him, but surely she could not have hiked up here with no shoes or boots? Probably she had removed them just before approaching the pool so as to not make a sound.
"I had just been reflecting on how beautiful it is here", he replied. "This has long been my favourite place to come and to contemplate life. But I've not been up here for a while and I wondered if perhaps it might have changed, or if I might feel differently. Luckily, neither was true. I was laughing because I simply could not help it. I felt a moment of profound happiness. I realised that I had fulfilled my dreams in life and I felt completely in tune with my soul and my surroundings, and in that moment, it seemed as if my very heart was singing to me."
He felt that perhaps he had said too much to this strange girl by his side. He had no idea who she was or where she had come from, and he felt rather foolish for talking in this way about dreams and his singing heart. After all, what could a young girl know about such things? But he had found that he wanted to talk about it and to share it with someone. He remembered a time long ago, when he had been informed by some friends that a man should not talk of such things and that if he did want to talk, he should talk about sport, hunting, cars and other manly topics. He had always believed in speaking honestly and truthfully of his emotions and feelings, and he never saw a reason to change. At the time he had reasoned that if people could not understand, then that was their problem, and he would never worry about it.
"I'm sorry", he added, "I'm talking gibberish in my old age. Forgive the mutterings of a foolish old man."
"There is nothing to forgive. I think it is wonderful that you had this moment because they are rare. When it happens, it is because you have established a connection to every thing that exists in the universe. Not many people are so lucky to experience such a moment in life. And there are not so many that understand the true language and nature of the heart. I am honoured to meet such a person. Have you always felt this way about life?"
"No, it has not always been so. In the early part of my life I ignored the voice of my heart and I was never able to find happiness. I would have times when I felt happy, but they never seemed to last very long. A week, maybe a month or two, but then I would feel sad again and sometimes lonely. Then something happened to change my life and I began to see everything differently. It was not a sudden shift in perception, but a gradual change. Then at some point, I just decided that I could no longer ignore what I was feeling, and I began to follow my heart. Ever since that time, I have felt a deep sense of happiness and I have never felt alone."
"Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Many years ago I felt lost and lonely. Although I was surrounded by family and friends, I could not seem to find my way. My brother got married and then my younger sister too, but I could never find anyone to settle down with and I always blamed myself when my relationships didn't work out. Then, I took a chance and I booked a journey I had always wanted to make. In the beginning, only making the journey was important, but once I had begun, I too felt my heart awaken and I knew that I must continue to do what it told me to do. I no longer felt the fear of being alone because I would never be alone, as long as I followed my heart, I would always have it as a companion. Tell me, after you started to follow your heart, did you also begin to notice the omens that appeared as you walked your path?"
The old man decided that since the girl was so young, it was not possible that the events she was retelling could have happened to her many years before. He decided that she must be relating a story that she had heard from another person in order to make herself appear more intelligent and wise. But he really didn't mind. It was nice to have someone to talk with about these matters.
"Yes", he said, "Once I began to follow my heart I was able to notice what I called the signs, that began to appear before me. I noticed that rainbows always held a particular significance for me. If a rainbow appeared, then I knew I was on the right path or that my decision was the right one. Perhaps it is because I have always been drawn to water that rainbows appeared so often, because a rainbow needs the drops of water to act as a prism to refract the light." He was quiet for a moment. This was a moment of revelation to the old man. "I never thought of that before. In all my years, I never made the link between water and the sign of the rainbow but now it is clear. My path was always meant to lead me to water. An absence of water would mean an absence of the sign that indicated I was on my right path, simply because I could not be."
"You are fortunate that you recognised the sign that was important to you. The signs appear to every single person, but not everyone is able to see or to read them. Many people stumble through their entire life with their eyes closed to what is obvious. But not every path can be the same. Each person must define their own path and each person must walk the journey of their own making. Each soul must find its own way back."
Who was this young girl who spoke in this manner? he wondered. She seemed much older and spoke in such a way that would suggest she was much older than she looked. "What do you mean, each soul must find its own way back?", he asked.
"Since the dawning of creation, since the moment when it all begin, the first path was created. And from this one path, all other paths have led. The point where you are now has it's beginnings in the dawning of that one single moment, in that one single spark that created the universe, that created life. And so it is, as it has always been, that we are all part of the one thing. And to complete the cycle of life, so we must return to the point in which it all began. All paths lead to that place."
All the paths leading away and all of the paths going back. The old man could picture it in his mind. Then something occurred to him. "Are saying that even if I was unable to see and to read the signs that appeared before me, I would still end up in the same place? That no matter what I did, nothing would have made a difference?"
"Everything that you have done, every decision that you have made, every difficult choice that you took, every person that you met, every experience that you've had, every emotion that you've felt, they have all led you to here, to this place, to this moment, to now. They have all been part of your journey along your path. Some people never get to live out their destinies and continue to live their lives with sadness, feeling unfulfilled. Ask yourself, if you had known that you would return to the same place as every other soul, would you have changed the way in which you lived your life?"
The old man didn't need to think about it. "No", he replied. "No, I would not. I would not alter a single thing because otherwise I would not be here in this moment, enjoying this conversation with you. By the way, I wanted to ask you, just how did you get here?"
The girl looked into the eyes of the old man and she smiled kindly at him. "I have always been here," she said. "I was waiting for you to come back again, so that we could have this talk. And I have enjoyed it immensely. But as in all of life, nothing can ever stay the same forever. And now I must go. Would you like to come with me?"
The girl stood and held out her hand to the old man. He looked at the hand, then he looked up at her face and in that face, he saw pure love.
The girl noticed his look. "It is a reflection of you", she said.
For the first time, he saw the bright light that was now radiating all around her. He raised himself off the boulder and looked around so that he might take in the view. He said goodbye to the waterfall and said a quiet thank you for its company. Then he turned to the girl. "I am ready", he said and he took the hand that had been offered. Together, they took a step forward and as they did, he turned his head to look back over his shoulder. In that final moment, he was able to see the arc of colours of the rainbow in the waterfall one last time. He smiled, "Thank you", he said and then together they stepped into the light.