No different from the Road Behind

Thinkthought  There was a man and his two friends who walked along a road. The man wore old pants that were so comfortable that he didn’t want to change them, regardless of their holes and frayed edges. His two companions, however, wore new pants with deep solid pockets.


Now as they walked along this road, the three came across a vendor offering many interesting items, gadgets, and wonders. The three received his wares and stuck them in their pockets, but as the man took a few steps, the merchandise fell through the holes in his. His two friends pointed out that he’d lost his stuff, but he only answered, as if unconcerned, “If they won’t stay in, I’ve no use for them.” and continued on. The two, not understanding him or knowing what to say, then walked on also and let lie what lay.

Not much further along the road, the threesome came across yet another dealer, and again they took in hand various interesting things and put them in their pockets. The pockets of the two friends were beginning to bulge, but no sooner had the man put the objects in his pockets, they too slipped through the tears.

“See you’ve dropped your goods as before,” the two friends informed him, but again the man replied, “If they won’t stay in, I’ve no use for them.” and again they all walked on, letting what lay lie.


The road was long and the three travelers met many people along the side of the road offering many fancy and intriguing things, and the outcome was always the same as the man’s old pants, remaining onion-skin-thin, littered the road with whatever he put in them and the man left the litter behind. The two friends’ pants though, holding everything they were asked to hold, had become huge, and each leg looked like a filled duffle bag.

With pockets filled so thickly, one would have imagined that it was the two friends who would have had trouble walking, but that was not to be the case. It was actually the man and his thin pants that fell, and fell often, as he many times tripped on the frayed edges of his old knickers. His friends offered to buy him a new pair so that he wouldn’t fall, but the man refused, saying “There are no pants as comfortable as these.”

So the man continued to trip and fall, and continued to refuse their help. By this time, the friends had grown weary of him. When the man fell again, because of his pants, the two decided that they had been delayed enough and left … but not before giving him as a parting gift a telescope they had bought along the way. The man huffed as he watched his friends walk away, and stuck the telescope in his pocket, expecting it to fall through just like all the other contraptions he’d put there before, and wished it good riddance. When he took a step, the telescope, as he had hoped and expected, fell through the hole, but what he had not expected, was that it was too long to wiggle free from the bottom of his pants leg … and so the man, still huffing and not willing to make the effort, walked on, trying to ignore the intrusive peg-leg.


After what seemed like years, the man had lost sight of his friends … and giving in to a curiosity, which won over his stubbornness, took the telescope from his pants’ leg and stuck it in front of his eye. As he peered through it, he could see the road finally ending at the gates to a big city … and there at the gates he saw his friends just arriving. A sentinel on guard, shaking hands with his two friends, welcomed them in … but then, taking the man completely by surprise, the sentinel looked right at him, shoving a spear in his direction, and said, “You shall not enter.” The man quickly removed the telescope from his eye, but could see nothing of the sentinel, or even the city for that matter, it was so far off. But the man was sure that the sentinel had pointed to him, and then wondered how he had even heard him from such a distance? Then he thought about it and even questioned how the sentinel could have seen him without a scope of his own. It was impossible. The man was befuddled and put the telescope back to his eye and there once again saw the sentinel, this time his spear blocking the way. “You shall not enter,” the sentinel repeated … and was again unexplainably heard by the man. “This is insane,” the man thought, and flabbergasted cried, “Why? I know those men you let pass, and I will have travelled as far. Why not let me enter?” The sentinel, as if he had heard the man’s words, lifted his spear and pointed to a sign by the side of the entrance, which read, “Only fatly-filled pockets allowed.”

The man gasped, dropping the telescope … and the sentinel and the city disappeared without it. The road ahead, to the man, looked no different from the road behind.

What do you think is the message?

Roger McManus

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