“You are a hard man to find,” said a young woman, as she stopped by the bungalow of the world famous sage Puram Bam. “Everyone knows who you are, but only few know where to find you.”
“How did you find me then?” asked Puram Bam, taking his eyes off the letter he was reading.
“I found someone who had found you.”
“Don’t you suppose it should be the only way to find me?”
“I suppose so,” said the young woman thoughtfully. “But how did your first guest ever find you?”
“Is this what you came here for?” asked Puram Bam.
“No,” said the young woman. “I wanted to ask you about something else. About myself.”
“Aren’t you the only one who can answer a question like this?”
“I am. But I heard that you help people to find these answers.”
Puram Bam smiled and nodded.
“What is your question?”
“The other day someone asked me what truly impresses me in people. At first, I was at loss for words. And then all I could say was: nothing. I’ve met many people, I said, old and young, rich and poor, famous and unknown. But no one has ever truly impressed me. I know I’m supposed to be impressed by titles, riches and accomplishments, but I’m not. That person asked me then, but what about virtues? And I said, even virtues don’t impress me that much. I value courage, I long for honesty, I respect perseverance. But never in my life have I met a person who had something that would truly impress me. Something that would take my breath away. I wish to think they exists, but I haven’t come across one yet. And so that person said that I either had lost my marbles or have expectations that no human can match. And the worst thing is, I think that person is right.”
“Yes, this may be the worst thing,” agreed Puram Bam. “But what is your question?”
“How do I explain what impresses me?” asked the young woman. “How do I explain this to others and even to myself? I know what it is, but I just can’t put it in words.”
“When you use words to explain something to yourself, they only hide the meaning,” said Puram Bam. “You said you believe they do exist. But who are they?”
“They are real people,” said the young woman. “Real is the only word I can think of, although I have no idea how to explain it. And it’s probably a totally wrong word. It means that everyone else is not real, but that’s not what I mean. No one would understand it.”
“I do,” said Puram Bam. “I know exactly what you mean.”
“You do?” asked the young woman, astonished. “But how can you know it when even I cannot express it?”
“Because I happen to be attracted to the same quality in people,” Puram Bam replied. “And it’s neither material goods nor virtues. Every virtue you have mentioned is only a part of what makes someone real. But not every commonly praised virtue would be found in him.”
“Right!” the young woman exclaimed. “I don’t care if a person like this lies — he would stay true to himself even while doing this. I don’t care what he looks like — but do I know that his eyes would not be the eyes of a beggar. I wouldn’t care about his job — but I know it would be something this person loves. Because he would not be spending years of his life doing something that doesn’t excite him. And most of all, I don’t want him to want to impress me. I’ll be the most impressed if I meet someone who doesn’t want to impress anyone — and yet does it all the time. I don’t know why I feel that I know it would be like even though I’ve never felt this way.”
“But you have,” said Puram Bam. “Every time you watch a wild gracious animal or hear a young child laughing you feel it. They don’t live to impress you or anyone. They simply live — and enjoy life. This is what you want to find in an adult. In someone who understands how the world of people works and how ugly it can be — and still chooses to be true to himself every moment of his life.”
“Yes,” said the young woman. “Now I believe that you really understand me — maybe even better than I understand myself. But where do I find people like this?”
“There aren’t many of them,” said Puram Bam. His eyes moved to the letter in front on him, then back to the young woman standing at the door.
“But if you look for people like this, you’ll find them. You will also learn to recognize those who are almost like them. Who betray themselves often — but one day may be strong enough to stop it.”
“I may know one or two people like this,” said the young woman. “I even think–”
“Never mind,” she said. “Thank you, sage. But how do I explain all of this to others? How can I make someone see what I see when I say real people?”
“You can’t,” said Puram Bam. “Those who can understand it will know exactly what you mean. With others, no explanation would ever be enough.”