The striking difference in my eyes is the older man who trudges, at some unpredictable hour, along the trail, carrying an oversize bag. Even his direction is unpredictable: some days I see his going eastward, and on the other days, he goes in the opposite direction. There is no special hour of his passage, except I have never seen him very early and very late on the way.
He wears a neat Madras shirt, blue jeans that always seem pressed, and a bluish all-weather parka, replacing the last with a heavier gray jacket when the air turns cooler. His thinning salt-and-pepper hair is always tidily brushed back, and a few long strands overrun the collar of his shirt and parka. He doesn’t wear glasses, and his eyes dart left to right as he passes my house, taking in the squirrels that are forever foraging for nuts near the bend. The man is a striking figure as he strides past the trees and passes beyond my sight.
He is striking above all because I don’t know what he is about. For most people who amble on this pathway, I can guess what they are doing, whether they are going to work or just out for a stroll. For the old man with the large bag, I have no idea. Not even the shadow of a hypothesis. He goes in different directions at different hours though mostly with the same parka and the same stride. I have no notion what he does, where he lives and why he walks at odd times with a large bag.
So, there I stand, on my deck or in my living room, the perennial coffee cup in my hand, watching the weekly apparition of an old man following the trail with a mammoth bag, mystified as ever by the man’s mission and his genuine identity. I realize, after many weeks, that I will never know the answer. It is unthinkable that I should walk out and accost the man and start asking invidious questions. No, I will never have my curiosity satisfied and know why he walks this way.
Then, suddenly, the significance of the whole business dawns on me. There are many questions to which we will never find the answer. There are many, many mysteries in the world of which we will never know the solution. Of course, where our knowledge or understanding is limited, we should try to extend the frontier; that is what science or technology is all about. But we should know that mysteries will abide, to excite and entrance us. To challenge us to make the best use, if not of our gray cells, at least our imagination on the winding road of life. That is what our life is all about.