Moving on

In an ancient land, a market trader once plied his trade along a busy road joining two thriving cities. Each day he counted his blessings for having found such a lucrative site because the whole world, it seemed, travelled up and down that road as they went about whatever was their business. In the middle of their journeys, the travellers craved rest and refreshment, needs that our market stallholder was more than happy to meet. As the money rolled in and he became wealthy, he became determined, more than determined even, to stay rooted to that spot. Nothing and nobody he promised himself would persuade him to let go of his pitch and move on.

But as is the way of the world times changed. New towns and cities grew up across the land, drawing people and traffic away from the road. And as is another way of the world, some understand the inevitability of change and the need to go with it, and some do not. And our market stallholder was one of those who didn’t. ‘Why should I?’ he would say defensively to his dwindling band of customers. Business will pick up, he convinced himself, and having fought and worked so hard, having enjoyed the fruits of his labour, he had too much personal investment in staying put. He developed business strategies aimed at attracting people back to the area. He invested more of his money and himself, becoming ever more determined to stay put even as those around him were packing up.

On one particular day, a bad day for trade was especially poor, a man on a horse approached and dismounted in front of the stall. His horse was a fine one, the trader noted, as were his clothes made of the finest cloth. But aside from his finery, something else caught the eye of our trader: it was the man’s look – untroubled, tranquil, at peace with the world.

Peering into the stall, the stranger saw a sad, dejected figure and glancing around, he saw precious few reasons for this miserable tradesman to be here. Engaging him in conversation, the stranger asked how he had arrived at this particular spot. In reply and touching that someone was interested in him, our trader recounted how he had spotted the opportunity to set up and start trading. He had foreseen that the road would attract more and more people because the two cities it connected were growing. His previous business wasn’t going anywhere, he continued, and letting that go and moving on seemed the natural thing to do.  Much to his surprise, the hero of our story repeated these words quietly to himself – ‘the natural thing to do.’ Both men sensed the meaning of the moment. A few seconds of silence passed between them, but in our hero’s mind were born the first stirrings of potential, of possibility.

Dropping some pennies into the trader’s hands, the nameless rider thanked him for the food and drink he had bought and rode on. The market stallholder combined them with his meagre takings from the day and began to close down for the day. He loosened the ropes that bound his stall tightly to poles which he in-turn loosened and lifted out of the ground.

Had anyone noticed him as he closed down for the day, they would have seen him go about his business more freely. And had anyone asked him what was going on inside his head, he would have told them that, like the magnificent birds of prey circling high above on warm currents of air, the words ‘letting go and moving on’ were also circling magnificently on the warm currents of his imagination.

As the sun rose the next day, no market stall could be seen.