THERE was an old man who was loathsome to behold. For his teeth had moved in the jaw and did not fit properly; his hair was unkempt, his eyes with milk-blindness; his features were sunken and gave no hint whatsoever of his former portrait in youth.
One day there came by him a distraught soldier who was on his way to his first commission. The young man had been weeping and the old crow of a man went to his assistance.
"Come, come, my young fellow", he croaked, "Why do you cry so mournfully?"
"What would you know, old man?" The young soldier protested. "You have been given more than your fill of life, and I, at such an early age will be deprived of mine!"
"Then perhaps I should go in place of you, and in return you may live that life which I have endured? Would this be your will?"
The bewildered young man was confused with fear, and now with such uncommon speculation. He bethought this to be a mocking jest, and answered so: "Oh yes, old man, I shall trade you my destiny which is doomed, for a piece of those years and your destiny's past."
"So be it." The elderly one sighed, and instantly the two were transfigured.
During the next sixty years or so the youth became as old, and with many a struggle and a battle of kind, he had come to the end of his days to find experience was behind him and poverty a’front. His limbs were beginning to fail; he was still much tormented by those dreams that were as yet unfulfilled.
He now spent his days at the roadside watching the traffic go to and fro. He had felt cheated when thought that his life lived was not of his own - that he should never come to know, what might have been were it under his directive and not just the mere reproduction of another's.
He had pondered as to what had become of his perpetual partner, until one day when a young soldier came by. He recognised his face all at once, for this was his face, his very own he had long ago worn!
"Do you not know me?" he croaked, to the youth there before him.
"No old man, I do not know you. Should I?" replied the soldier, as he flung a few copper coins at his feet.
"I am Fate.” the old man murmured as he gazed with great intent.
"Pleased to meet you, and fare you well! For I am the Conscious Will and must now go my way", and so saying departed with a laugh and a wave, cheerio.
We may all assume the life of destiny, or live the life of one with free will. There is a marriage of both in a man, who throughout the course of life is offered both limitations and possibilities, concurrently. We are wise to discern which is which and one from another, and be content with both, for they are brothers… brothers out of time.