A man had the feeling that he was lost and so he went into the wilderness to find himself. After a few days, he found himself in a desolate, rocky place. He met a dog. At first the two strangers stared at each other for a while, the dog’s eyes narrowing.
“Why are you here in this God forsaken place?” said the man, partly relieved to find himself and a little irritated, too. He hadn’t figured that finding himself would be such a hassle. His Italian shoes were ruined. The dog, dressed in a girdle and looking gaunt from his harsh life, did not rush to reply.
“What do you want?” said the dog, ignoring his question.
“Ah, I came looking for you,” said the man taken back by the response. “That is, I came to find myself,” the man said after he regained his composure. He was a little surprised that the dog had not recognized him. The dog rocked a little on his haunches. Eventually the dog spoke.
“I am a dog,” he replied. His tail thumped a bit, but without the usual doggy enthusiasm. It was a sober thumping, like a foot tapping in thought or impatience. “Have you tried looking for yourself in your heart?” The dog was earnest and for a brief moment had an almost pained look in his tired, warm eyes.
The man had to think quick. Was this some kind of test? The man was excited to find that he himself might be an enlightened person after all. This dog was surely one of those greybeard types.
“I’m pretty sure I was a dog in my previous life,” he said knowingly. “I’ve had dreams about it.”
The dog looked up and turned his head to the side a little. He avoided the man with his eyes. “You don’t really believe that stuff, do you?”
“Listen,” said the man, getting huffy, “are you going to come with me or not? I gotta get back to work sometime.”
“I will think about it,” the dog said. “Come back later.”
The man stomped off, not sure what had gone wrong.
The man wandered through the wilderness some days before he came upon a forest ranger living in a neat little cabin. He was friendly and invited the man in to stay and rest a while. They watched some television and then the man opened his heart to the forest ranger about his quest.
“So, you met the dog. Pretty smug little guy, eh?” the ranger offered the man some pistachios from a bag. He was cracking them open with his teeth in a way which showed he had a lot of practice. “He impresses a lot of people, but not me. I think he’s a fake.”
"He sure had me going,” said the man, relived to find some perspective. The man spoke about his dream and the forest ranger suddenly slapped his back so hard he almost choked on a pistachio.
“You know, I was Genghis Khan in a previous life!”
The two guys really fell together and found they had a lot in common. They were both Dan Brown fans and dabbled in survival training.
“I’ll tell you what,” the ranger said in the evening. “You’re all right. I’ll let you in on a little secret.” The forest ranger showed the man a little golden Ken doll he kept in Dolce and Gabana shopping bag.
“Here you go,” said the forest rangers presenting the doll to the man. “Ta-dah! Your true self.” He also gave the man the shopping bag so he wouldn’t loose himself again.
“What about you?” the man said.
“Me?” I got a line on ‘em. I can get more. Besides,” he said spitting out a pistachio shell onto the floor, “Watching the forest is a sort of charity thing I do for my self-esteem. My real business is them dolls.”
The man was thankful and paid for the doll and gave a donation to the ranger’s ‘Save the Forest’ fund to boot.
On the way back, he stopped off at the dog’s desert station. He was a little embarrassed when the dog saw the bag, but the dog didn’t say anything. The man, now more confident, snapped his fingers and said, “Here boy!” and the dog came trotting.
They went back to the man’s place leaving the ruined Italian shoes behind. The dog followed, his head hung low and a pair of fresh slippers in his teeth. They never spoke of their first meeting again.