The Boy and the Wise Man

An adolescent boy went out seeking for a wise man who is very reputable at fixing life’s problems. “I don’t know what to do with my life,” the boy said upon meeting such man. “I feel empty. What am I to do?”

“Your only purpose in life is to realize your destiny,” the wise man responded.

“How can I find that?” asked the boy.

“Everyone has their own destiny. Everyone must not be afraid to follow their hearts, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives.”

They were both silent for a while. Then the wise man spoke, “Why do you carry a sketchbook?”

“All I want is to become an artist,” the boy responded.

The wise man pointed to a shopkeeper standing in his shop window across the street from the park where two met. “When he was about your age, he also wanted to become an artist. But he decided to set up his shop and put some money aside. When he’s an old man, he’s going to buy an art studio. He never realized that people are capable, at any point in their lives, of doing what they really want to do.”

“He should have decided to become an artist,” the boy said.

“Well, he thought about that,” the wise man said. “But shopkeepers are more important people than artists. Shopkeepers have homes and fairly stable incomes every month, while artists sometimes can’t sell their work so they starve themselves for days. Also, parents would rather see their children marry shopkeepers than starving artists.”

“In the end, what people think about artists and shopkeepers become more important for them than what they really want to do,” the wise man added.

The words of the wise man hit the boy between the eyes. “Why didn’t my parents teach me all this?”

“Since a lot of adults have not figured out what they really want,” the wise man stated, “they naturally find it difficult to pass on the values of soul-searching to their children.”

“At some point in our lives, we each have a responsibility to think about what we want, even if no one ever taught us. This lack of understanding holds us back from greatness and keeps us living mediocre lives. To break out of this cycle, we have to define what we want to do and then find a way to make it happen,” the wise man continued.