One evening a young woman went alone to walk barefoot by the ocean after the sun had set.
She stopped in her path and turned so she could see the footsteps she had left in the sand. But they had already been washed away by the waves.
When she turned to continue her walk, she was startled by the presence of an old woman wrapped in a blanket who out of nowhere appeared sitting by a fire, slowly paging through the leaves of a leather-covered book.
She walked up to the woman and asked. “Where did you come from? I didn’t see you here a moment ago. And how did you start this fire so quickly?”
Her questions went unanswered but were instead met with a reply in a serene voice, “Sit with me, child. I have something to show you.”
As the young woman sat down beside the fire, the mysterious stranger handed her the book. She curiously turned the pages one by one and was amazed to discover they contained the story of her whole life from the early days of childhood to the present. She then came to the page telling of her encounter with the old woman by the fire during her walk on the beach, but upon turning to the next page, she found it empty. She frantically began to turn the rest of the pages in the book only to find that they, too, were all empty. In bewilderment, she looked to the old woman and pleaded with her to explain.
“Does this mean my life ends this night?”
“No, my child. It means tonight your life begins.”
At that moment the old woman took the book into her own hands and began to tear out each of the pages with words, throwing them one by one into the fire until all that was left were blank pages.
She handed the book of empty pages to the young woman.
“You see,” she said, “just as the waves washed away your footsteps in the sand, your past is forever gone, never to return. The only moment you ever truly possess is here and now. Each new moment is the beginning of the rest of your life and is to be lived to the fullest, for you will not have a chance to live that moment a second time. Most important of all, each new day brings an opportunity to love–one that may never come to you again.
“As for your future, you are free to shape it as you wish, for it has not yet been written.”
Then, as mysteriously as she had appeared, the old woman stood to walk away and disappeared into the darkness of the night.
The above story is one of 25 lessons written in allegorical form in the book “For Love or Nothing – Lessons to Illuminate the Path to Love” by William Oak.
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