The traveler was young and strong and determined. For two years he had been in these mountains gradually learning how to navigate in this high altitude terrain. At first it had been confusing and overwhelming, but little by little he had faced and passed each test. Each passed test was credited to him as knowledge and slowly but surely he was getting closer to his goal.
The traveler was a hunter. For two years he had trailed the coveted golden sheep. In the traveler’s culture hunting the golden sheep was a rite of passage and many young men and women spent years and great fortunes to take one of the bachelor rams and hang its skin on their wall as a trophy. Many believed the sheepskin on their wall would lead to early success and great fortune throughout their lives.
The traveler believed this as well and picked up his pace as the trail of the sheep dipped into a green valley. In the middle of the valley was a tavern and as the traveler came closer he could see the tavern owner, a young man of about his own age, standing on the front porch and reviewing the day’s tasks with his chief cook. The owner gave the traveler a penetrating look as he strode into view.
“Good day to you traveler and well met! I like the look of you and your arrival is fortuitous. I am in need of a good manager for my property here. Someone I can train and trust and can perhaps one day become a partner in my business. Would you be interested?” The traveler paused and considered the offer. “But I am on the trail of the golden sheep” he protested. “Oh, aye” replied the owner, “as is everyone these days. ‘Tis the reason I am in need of a manager. Many pass through this valley on the trail of the sheep and this tavern is well situated to offer them rest and supplies and a drink. It’s a rare opportunity.”
The traveler looked back to the trail of the sheep, then turned to the owner. “I like your offer and mean to take you up on it, but after I take the sheep. If I take the sheep first I will be much better ready for success and will be able to take full advantage of your offer.” And with that he turned back to the sheep trail and strode off. The owner shook his head sadly and said to the cook, “He will not be back and I cannot hold the position for him. It will go to another.” He turned for one last look at the disappearing traveler and murmured sadly under his breath, “Eefayejus….”
A Few Years Later…
The Traveler looked with satisfaction at the fresh sheepskin on the wall. The Girl came up beside him, slipped her arm through his and nodded at the framed sheepskin. “You have spent much time in the mountains, but you have been successful. You have taken the sheep, we can plan the wedding now can’t we?” The Traveler frowned. “Getting the sheepskin cost me many coins and has left me with debs that must be repaid. There is word that gold has been found in one of the high valleys where the biggest sheep pasture. Wait for a while more. If I am able to find the gold then we can have a splendid wedding.”
Months and then years passed. The girl waited, watching the hills for his return, softly singing under her breath, “Eefayejus….”
After the Wedding…
Two blond haired little girls and two brown haired little boys ran around and through the Travelers legs laughing and giggling. The Traveler rumpled their hair with his hands, kissed their cheeks, and swept them up one at a time in a great hug. The walls of the tiny home where the Traveler and the Girl lived rang with laughter. The Children looked at the Traveler with pleading eyes, “Let us stay with you, please!” they begged. The Traveler nodded, “Of course you may stay, but not here. There is not enough room here. When I am able to build a larger house with a bigger yard there will be room for all of you.”
A few years later the Traveler smiled with satisfaction as he put the last finishing touch of paint to the large, fine house. “It is ready!” he called. The Girl came, leading one small child by the hand. “Where are the others?” asked the Traveler. “They have gone, they couldn’t wait” said the Girl. The Child took his hand, smiled up at him and said, “Eefayejus…”
Years Slip By
“Come, sit, talk to me, be with me” pleaded the Girl. “Come, play, dance with me” pleaded the Child. The Traveler looked over his shoulder at them, then back to the hills. “There is still more gold to be found in the high valley” he said to the Child. “If I get a few more wagon loads then I will be able to give you the best bow and the best guide to help you find the best golden sheep.”
“I am becoming well known and famous for my ability to find the gold” he said to the Girl. “If I am able to make one more good trip then I will be able to stay here and teach others what I have done. Then you will have all that you want and all that you need. I will return soon.” “Eefayejus…” they called after him sadly.
The Traveler returned. The large house was empty and cold. The Girl was gone. The Child was gone. The Traveler’s face was lined with wrinkles. His remaining hair was streaked with gray. He lay in the bed alone and his breathing grew shallow. The Traveler’s face was pained and puzzled. He looked up into the face of the Guide. “Eefayejus….?” His eyes held a question.
The Guide shook his head sadly. “Many have thought that the finding of Eefayjus would fulfill all their desires, wants, and needs” he said. “In truth Eefayjus cannot bring any of these. One can find meaning in the pursuit, but there is no fulfillment in the finding. Final fulfillment is beyond the mountains and the valleys and will only be found at the end of the final journey. If you seek only to find Eefayjus first and ignore all else the Journey will be heavy and empty.
Focus instead on being certain of your final destination. Set your compass to that heading. Find good companions to journey with you. Since you know where you are going make sure that you take time to savor the journey and the fellowship of those with you. Then your Journey will be light and full.”
The Traveler’s eyes widened as he heard these words. “Eefayejus” he murmered. “Ifayejus, IfIjus, IfIjust, If I Just…”
If I Just
Eefayejus is sly and tempting. It lures you into false thinking and delayed joy that often sours into cynical bitterness. It beckons with real happiness that is just around the corner, over the hill, just a bit in the future, but never here.
If I just complete my degree, get a better job, find a spouse, buy a home, get a bigger house, have a nicer car, build up a little more savings….the list is endless.
Then, then I’ll be happy. Then I will have time. Then I can relax. Then I can really live! Then I’ll have time for my friends, my spouse, my children. Then I’ll figure out the meaning of life and get right with God.
Then. Soon. If I just, IfIjust, IfIjus, Ifayejus….Eefayejus.