The guy in a loose black gear and a husky cockney accent was not only hilarious and funny in his commentary, but was an amazingly skilled performer. While walking on a tight rope, he was juggling with three big knives and was surrounded by dozens of cheering people mostly tourists.
Having the occasional sips from a large mug filled with delightfully delicious hot chocolate from the balcony of this Italian restaurant, I noticed the crowd around the juggler.
Most striking was an approximately five year old girl in the light pink casual wear and a bright red slightly tilted hat with her mum and dad in the background. Probably a tourist family from Denmark, I guessed . With each loud giggle in response to every funny turn in the show, her thin facial features were enhanced and highlighted by the sunshine over her head.
She surely did not know that her own heart produces enough pressure to squirt blood eight times higher than her own body about seventy times a minute and on and on throughout her life.
It was a lovely day in April and the sun was out in London. Covent Garden is a historical market designed in 1632 and now a delightful array of bars, restaurants, small shops and spaces for street performers. It seemed like a happy place that day.
I turned around and, so did my focus of attention, in response to an unexpected pressure of a palm on my left shoulder.
He was wearing a long coat very similar to Colombo. Oversized, scruffy, open from the front and not particularly clean. A very good match with this old man overall personality.
He must be in his early seventies. A man with frontal baldness and unshaven beard, sleepless but extremely bright and convincing eyes but exhausted looking face. He looked as much worn out as his brown leather shoes in his feet. Life did not seem gentle with him. My immediate impression was that the guy is a beggar.
Unexpectedly, instead of asking for money, he whispered while coming close to me. I would like to tell you a story. A simple story of human happiness!
I love to listen to the stories but obviously not from strangers and surely not all the time . Perhaps it was his eyes or may be, one of the several possible explanations could be that my own story is not as colourful and exciting as, for instance, the story of James Bond or Sherlock Holmes.
By the way, it seems, that my life has all the basic ingredients of an interesting story. The joy, the pain, and sometime drama and rarely adventure and I am sure, one day, there will be a finale. But most events in my story are obviously not so bright and eye-catching.
Sitting in an aisle chair in the economy class as usual, dozing and trying to control the embarrassing drool and a sudden tap on the shoulder. An air hostess smile says ” would you like to be upgraded to first class, Sir”. The joy!
Only nine inches overlap of the car wheel over a double yellow line during office hours and on return, finding a sixty pounds penalty notice stuck on the windscreen. The pain.
But today I would like to ignore my own story and share with you the old man`s story. The reason being, it created a greater wonder and an adventure in the underworld of my inner life.
I discovered it as more of an analogy rather than a story but with a profound potential of becoming a journey of self exploration.
We both came down the stairs and out of this busy restaurant and walked a few steps together and finally settled on the chairs of a nearby and empty coffee bar. Eyeball to eyeball and knees to knees. And he started to speak in a pensive but clear voice.
The beginning of this story is not known. Perhaps it is a story of an endless journey in the vastness of cosmos in a long night of infinity.
But it took an interesting human turn perhaps forty thousand years ago when we started our new life together in the caves near the borders of Spain and France.
We expressed our hopes and dreams on the cave walls with colourful paintings. It was the first bright sign of our unprecedented success to come out of the survival strangle and to go beyond the confinement of our individual self in search of meaning and happiness in our lives together as a society.
This was the beginning of a new journey of our collective consciousness through a vast desert of our lives in the fearful darkness of existence.
But surprisingly, In this journey through the desert in this darkness, there is an eternal and sacred bonfire celebration going on in the exact centre of this desert. And the emerging glow extends outwardly into the fearful darkness of our existence.
Right in the middle of this bonfire is the most beautiful central flame. And it is love! It is then surrounded like the petals of a beautiful glowing flower by the encircling flames of justice and goodness and truth and forgiveness.
In the closest circular vicinity of this bonfire, everything is so clear and meaningful as if it is not a dark night of fearful existence but a bright day of awareness in the sunshine of wisdom.
Very few of us, if any, are in the closest vicinity of this bonfire. They are wise and happy. They can see and understand everything clearly. They are in the circle of illumination.
But as we move away from the bonfire in the desert of our lives towards the darkness of our fears, the intensity of the light gradually fades away. Many of us resides in the circle of a dim light, in a twilight zone. We can still see things if we keep our eyes, our attention and our focus on the bonfire.
When we do, we join the celebrations of love and justice and goodness and truth and forgiveness. We feel happy and purposeful and be able to see clearly.
But in our twilight zone, we also have a choice to turn around, if we wish so, towards the outer circle of fearful darkness. The primitive circle of our survival. A hedonistic circle of our self-centred desires, our egos. The circle of temptations away from the brightness of bonfire celebrations.
When we turn away from the bonfire, we become blind with greed and selfishness in the darkness of our fears. We slip away and loose direction and start groping in the dark. It is not surprising that sometime we stumble and fall into the abyss of unhappiness and despair.
And very few of us, unfortunately remains in the outer circle of darkness of fear throughout their lives. They do not even choose to start the journey towards the bonfire. They are committed power mongers, glory hunters, criminals and hedonists. Look around and you will find few politicians, religious extremists, criminals, bigots of all kind. Hatred is their way of life, justified by their distorted creed and by their so called faith.
At this point, I interrupted the old man and said ” this does not sound justice to me that few of us are born nearer to the bonfire of love and few in the outer circle of darkness of fear!
He smiled and said. We all are born in the outer circle of darkness. This is where we all start our journey of existence. This is where we first have to win over our fears of survival. But the journey does not end here. It just begins here.
Universal justice is that we all can see the bonfire if we wish so. We have an innate awareness of the joy of this bonfire celebration. The bonfire of love resides within us and at the same time outside of us in the middle of the dark desert of our fearful existence.
But the knowledge does not guarantee action. The choice is entirely upto us to start the journey or not. There are barriers to be overcome in this journey. Race, colour, creed, socio-political divides, religions, politics, you name it.
It is not enough knowing but to take action to overcome these barriers and to start moving towards the great bonfire, the real purpose of our existence. The journey towards the absolute values of love, justice, goodness, truth and forgiveness.
The excitement around the juggler was still on. Crowd was cheering and clapping in full flow. The colourful waves of intermittent giggles of this little girl from Denmark were still there in the air.
From the comfort of a little thoughtful pause in our conversation, I noticed this young and very bright looking man in his early thirties. Sitting only two tables away from us with the crowd and show in his background.
He was wearing an expensive steel grey three-piece suit. His body posture, his eyes along with his entire attention was looking totally immersed and directed towards the screen of his latest laptop, showing the colourful fluctuating graphs and rapidly changing figures of London shares and stock market.
I felt as if, at this moment, nothing can reach him by piercing through the invisible glass cubicle of inattention around him. Surely not the clapping and cheering of the crowd around the juggler. Not this bright sunny and lively day in Covent Garden filled with colourful giggles. Not the mug on his table containing the coffee which is gradually getting colder.
And not even the old man`s story!