I thought I heard someone tell me in my dream.
“Wake up, wise one.”
This time I was sure I heard someone.
“David, wake up.”
The sound of my name woke me, and I was very surprised to see a very tall man with a thick beard gently shaking me awake.
“There now. You’re awake. Are you ready?”
“R-r-ready for what? Who are you? How do you know my name?” I was a frightened 11 year old with this giant of a man looming over.
“I have a lot of names. But you may call me, Abe.”
“Are you Abraham Lincoln? You sort of look like him.”
Abe laughed and said, “No, my boy, the respectable Mr. Lincoln has been dead a long time. Clearly, I’m not dead.
So. Are you ready?” He asked again.
“Ready for what? You never answered that question.”
Still smiling, he bent low, “Ready for our quest.”
“What’s a quest?” I asked him.
“Well, it’s a journey.”
“What’s a journey?”
His smile disappeared and he looked at me seriously. “We must do something about your vocabulary. Words are important you know? They are keys to entering hearts and minds. Let me tell you what a journey is. A journey is a trip to somewhere. A quest is a special kind of journey.”
“What’s so special about it?”
“You have so many questions. What a wonderful mind you have. A quest is special because it isn’t just a trip. It is a search.”
“A search for what?”
“I knew you would ask me that. Most everyone does. It is a search for something you don’t know until you find it.”
I didn’t understand what he meant. it sounded confusing to me. There was something very strange about this man, yet even to the young boy that I was at the time, he emitted a recognizable wisdom. In a very short amount of time I knew that this lanky giant was the smartest man alive.
I also knew that I wanted to go on this quest to who knows where.
“Do my parents know you’re here? I must ask their permission.”
He smile returned, a most gentle smile, “They know I’m everywhere. Most people do. You can tell them we met after we fix our plans.”
“Does Sam know you?”
“Well, not yet. But I know her. I know she’s your best friend. I know that your friends find you both weird because you like bitter dark chocolate, that she’s your nurse when you play war, and I know that you like to sketch her while she dances on the hill at Green Fields.”
“How do you know all these things?”
“I just do.”
“Can she come along? I would like that very much. You would like her too. She’s smart, and funny, and always says good things. She’s not like the other girls always kissing boys. She has the happiest eyes I know.”
“I like her already. She’s a beautiful girl. Ask her if she wants to come along.”
I was thrilled. I was going on an adventure. The thought of Sam coming excited me even more. I looked at Abe, “So what’s the plan?”
“Meet me tomorrow at sundown by the old yellow slide on Rose Park.”
“Ok. Rose Park. And then?”
“That’s it.”, He replied.
“That’s the plan?” I asked unbelievingly.
“Yes. Is there something unclear?”
“No. I just thought there would be more. Don’t you have a map? What should I pack? What are we riding”
“A map to who knows where?” He laughed. “How can we have a map to a place we don’t know where?”
I was really confused.
Abe bent his tall frame and knelt in front of me. He looked me straight with dark piercing eyes and said, “You must be very brave to go to who knows where. But I promise you, when you arrive, you will know, you will understand, and you will laugh louder than you have ever laughed in your life.”
I still didn’t understand. But there was something about this man. He wasn’t just a man, at least unlike any man I knew. There was something about him, about his countenance. Despite his plain exterior, his old suit, he radiated. I would later realize that this was the radiation of the wise, of those who have sought and found understanding, of those who have been illuminated.
I don’t know why I said it but I did, “I’ll see you at Rose Park, sundown.”
“Splendid.” He said as he rose back to his full 9 feet, making his way towards the door.
“What should I pack?” I asked again.
He turned his head and answered, “You may bring whatsoever you choose. But take some advice from a million quests, the less baggage you bring the less arduous the journey. It is wise to travel light.”
He walked back to my bed, knelt down again, and said, “Good night my brave man.” Then he stood up and left without the slightest sound.
No one had ever called brave me before, and definitely not a man. But as I lay in my bed my mind wandered into a dream, I was a warrior in battle, the lone man defending a hill. As with many many things that made sense when they did, I now know that was the day I became a man.