The Crystal Vendor

As a young boy, I’ve always wanted to explore the New World. Discover new islands, meet new people. I wanted to go to so many places that when the time came to choose one destination, I couldn’t. So I said, “Maybe next year, I can finally choose.” But in the meantime, I had to earn money, so I worked part-time at a crystal vendor’s shop. Sailors would come by, some spouting tales of glory, others muttering tales of dismay. I listened to all with a sense of wonderment, determined to have my own adventure someday.

But when the end of the year came, I still couldn’t choose. So I said, “I’ll give myself another year.” And so another year passed, and my money piled up. My skills in the crystal business grew as well; I was handling my own, small business now. The store owner was proud. I still listened to the sailors in rapt wonder and told myself, “This year, for sure.” But when the end of the year came, the store owner told me he’d make me manager if I didn’t leave. And the customers all told me, “Why leave? You’d be risking everything out there, all the hard work you’ve done these past years. What if you don’t like being a sailor? Then you lose all your money, and start once again from the beginning, lost as ever.”

Doubt grew from a silent whisper to a quiet murmur to a raging scream. “Why leave?” I asked myself. I told myself I’d stay for another year. Besides, I could use the extra money for my adventures–buy a small ship, hire a small crew. But year after year passed and I kept finding excuses to stay. Until one day, I realized that I was old, too old for adventures. The store owner had died, leaving me with the crystal shop. I was now one of the richest merchants in our town.

That afternoon, a young sailor walked into the shop. He looked tired. He told me they explored for two years but never found new land. But as he recounted his exploits, a familiar gleam came into his eyes. I realized it was a gleam I had seen before, in the eyes of so many sailors I met, in my own eyes as a young apprentice polishing a crystal mirror, envisioning himself as the greatest adventurer of all.

And as I listened to the young sailor, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would have been happier as a penniless sailor with nothing but tales of adventure in his pockets than a rich merchant who had all the gold but ironically enough, could not afford even a single adventure.



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