In the crowd he saw a bright child buying fruit at a stall. He approached the child and knelt on one knee before her. Listen to me, he said, for I am old and have seen many things. I have known wars and the times between wars called peace. I have loved, and my heart has been broken more times than you have toes. I have lived in mansions, and I have lain broken in the street. I saw the moon rise and the stars fall before most who live were born. I have lived long, and still I live. So listen to me, child. Neither turn from love nor run from a fight. Leave the road at every chance, and go where you don’t belong. Drink life until you are drunk with it, and have no regret about any of it. Do this and you will be prepared to meet God.
Thank you, Grandfather, the child replied. I bow to your long life. My feet are set upon a path. And on this path what I find means less to me than what I seek.
If I seek love with my every step, then I know love.
If I seek wisdom with my every step, then I am wise.
If I seek God with my every step, then I know God.
Study your long life, Grandfather, until the gains and losses are one and have no hold on you. Then take your seat upon the earth and teach me and all who will listen.
The old man bowed to the child. Now I begin my life, he said.