Taking Off The Mask

In a bustling village, there lived a young boy. And when he was finally of age, he, like most young boys, wished to find his love and so pursued the affections of a girl. Some young boys pursued the affections of other young boys, but that’s another story. The first girl he pursued rejected him. And the second girl he pursued also rejected him. And the third girl he tried to win the hand of ignored him. So did the fourth girl ignore him, and fifth and sixth. This happened again and again and he was filled with doubt and wonder as to what was so wrong with him that he was always rejected and ignored.

One day, the young boy traveled to see a Wise Healer who lived far outside the village. Seeking an answer to the question that bothered him so, the boy asked the Wise Healer why he was always rejected and ignored. “How can I find my love when all of the girls of the village reject me?” the young boy asked. With a puff of his pipe and gentleness in his voice, the Wise Healer replied, “You wear a mask you have been conditioned to wear. Take off the mask and you will find your love.” The young boy became sad because he did not understand what the Wise Healer meant by his words. And so, still without an answer, the young boy returned to the village.

Then one day, he had an idea to observe the other boys who had won the affections of girls he had pursued.

He noticed that some girls who rejected him had found comfort in the arms of the athletic boys. So he began training in athletics.

He noticed that some girls who rejected him had found comfort in the arms of the scholarly boys. So he began studying remedies and treatments with the Wise Healer who lived far outside the village.

He noticed that other girls who ignored him had found comfort in the arms of the young hunters. So he began learning how to wield a spear and shoot an arrow and track animals.

He noticed that other girls who ignored him had found comfort in the arms of the wood workers. So he began working with wood.

But this was still not enough. Every girl he pursued still rejected him and ignored him. Sinking into a feeling of hopelessness, the boy gave up and began walking home. On his way home, he noticed an elderly woman struggling to drag a heavy sack of supplies behind her. The young boy approached the elderly woman and asked if she needed help. She smiled and allowed the boy to hoist the sack over his shoulder and carry it to her home. When they reached her home and he placed the sack where she asked him to, the young boy was glad to hear the elderly woman’s kind thanks and wishes of blessings upon him.

The next day, he found another who was in need, a wife whose husband had been injured and so was unable to hunt that day, and the young boy gladly hunted for them. And on another day, he found another who was in need, a mother whose daughter was sick but could not travel to see the Wise Healer who lived far outside the village, and the young boy gladly mixed an elixir that healed the daughter. And those the young boy helped responded with kind thanks and wishes of blessings upon him.

Years passed as the young boy kept helping others who were in need. And he further developed in his athletic training, and his healing studies, and his hunting skills, and his wood working. And as he used them to help those who were in need of someone of such skills, his name became famous as someone the villagers could come to when in need. And as he grew from a young boy to a young man, and his name became more and more famous, there came a day when one of the women who had rejected and ignored him when they were young sought his help. After offering her kind thanks and wishes of blessings upon him, she asked him why, over the many years, he has never once taken a mate.

He answered that, over the years, as he matured in skill and knowledge and took joy in giving of himself what he could to those in need, who returned his kindness with smiles and gifts of thanks, the affections of girls who withheld their love from him mattered less and less to him.

Confused by his lack of interest, the woman asked, “But do you not fear being alone for the rest of your life?” With gentleness in his voice, the young man replied, “Sometimes, a fear is not conquered by fighting against it, but rather embracing it.”

And it was then that the young man remembered what the Wise Healer who lived far outside the village had told him many moons ago when he first sought the Wise Healer’s help. It was then that he realized that he had indeed found his love. It was within himself all along. To find it, all he had to do was take off his mask.

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