15. Tetsuya’s Story

I was working for a great nobleman who lived in the region; I was in charge of looking after his stables. But since my master was always travelling, I had a great deal of free time, and so I decided to devote myself to what I considered to be the real reason for living: drink and women.

One day, after several nights without sleep, I felt dizzy and collapsed in the middle of the countryside, far from anywhere. I thought I was going to die and gave up all hope. However, a man I had never seen before happened to pass along that road; he helped me and took me to his house - a place far from here - and nursed me back to health during the months that followed.

While I was recovering, I used to see him set out every morning with his bow and arrows.

When I felt better, I asked him to teach me the art of the bow; it was far more interesting than looking after horses. He told me that my death had come a great deal closer, and that now I could not drive it away. It was just two paces away from me, for I had done great physical harm to my body.

If I wanted to learn, it would only be in order to keep death from touching me. A man in a far-off land, on the other side of the ocean, had taught him that it was possible to avoid for some time the road that led to the precipice of death. But in my case, for the rest of my days, I needed to be aware that I was walking along the edge of this abyss and could fall into it at any moment.

He taught me the way of the bow. He introduced me to his allies, he made me take part in competitions, and soon my fame spread throughout the land.

When he saw that I had learned enough, he took away my arrows and my target, leaving me only the bow as a souvenir. He told me to use his teachings to do something that filled me with real enthusiasm.

I said that the thing I liked most was carpentry. He blessed me and asked me to leave and to devote myself to what I enjoyed doing most before my fame as an archer ended up destroying me, or led me back to my former life.

Every second since then has been a struggle against my vices and against selfpity.

I need to remain focused and calm, to do the work I chose to do with love, and never to cling to the present moment, because death is still very close, the abyss is there beside me, and I am walking along the edge.’