The Living

What does it mean to live? What does it mean to be successful?

Not too many years ago, in London, there lived a young lawyer by the name of Theodore Arms.  He dressed himself in the most formal attire of monotonous colors, and carried with him always a briefcase and top hat.  As with others who have been raised within the boundaries of respectable society, he valued order among all things, and built for himself a bubble within which he could reside without chaotic interference from the outer world.


One afternoon, in fact on the day of his 27thbirthday, Theodore went to pay a business call on a client some distance away.  The home was in a serene countryside, an area unfamiliar to the streetwise Mr. Arms.  He drove slowly and methodically past grassy fields that began to melt into heavy woods, following a single winding road. Soon however, it became clear that neither a house nor a human being was in sight.


Then the road ended abruptly at the edge of a large, fierce-looking forest.  Peering through the trees beyond his spotless windshield, Theodore imagined that he could make out the shape of a small house tucked away behind the overabundant foliage.


He scrambled to find his map, but it wasn’t in sight.  Funny, he thought he’d just been holding it.  Then his eyes widened in surprise as he glanced down at the dashboard. The arrow in his gas meter was pointing almost straight at the giant E. Empty.


“And I had just filled it before leaving…” the young lawyer muttered, but suddenly, it dawned on him that he could not remember whether or not he had replenished his gas tank that afternoon. He was sure he had; he must have—a well-prepared gentleman was never one to forget such necessities. Still, the performance of this ritual must have escaped Mr. Arm’s impeccable memory that morning. “I had a lot on my mind,” Mr. Arms assured his conscience hastily, to excuse himself.


Finally, with a sigh of agitation, Mr. Arms abandoned the vehicle in question, resigning himself to the might of foot and shield (or briefcase, as the case may be--he had tucked his protectively in the crook of his arm just before embarking.) And so it was with the mind and confidence of a true English gentleman that Theodore Arms, of Barley and Arms Attorneys, gaited his way towards the woods in search of a solution to his lifelong and everlasting dilemma.


Many years ago, outside of London, an old shoemaker held his infant grandson up the light outside his dilapidated but comfortable wooden cottage. The house—hardly more than a shed—was obscured behind a long grove of trees, expanding forever outwards beside a thin, winding road. The shoemaker’s hands and fingers were worn down to bones and sinews, and his own bare feet were precious tributes to all that he had generously given away during his quiet, long life in beautiful scape of countryside.


“Teddy Arms,” the grandfather crooned, stroking the baby’s perfect oval head, “I wish for you only to live as true and as rich a life as I have lived. And I wish for you to become as happy a man I have become.”


The old man straightened the baby’s tattered scrap of a blanket and carried him into the house, cradling the little bundle of life as though it were the most precious thing in the entire world.

The End

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