Looking for the land that doesn’t exist.
Two men sat by the side of the road at the close of day. The younger of the two stared at the setting sun and sighed. “Oh, how I would love to be where the sun sets. How beautiful it must be to live in Sunset Land.”
The older man thought a bit before he answered – “where the sun sets, you say. Hmm – now why would a man want to go where the sun sets?”
The young man continued to stare at the setting sun. “Think how wonderful it must be to live where the sun sets. Look there old man, the sun is touching down just over the crest of that long dark hill. That’s where I want to be.”
I think you will find it is gone when you get there. Stay here, young man – this is your home. You can watch the sun set every night from our village.”
But the young man would not be persuaded to stay. To make his home in Sunset Land was his fondest dream. It was a beautiful sight from here but he was certain it would be many times more beautiful to live where the sun set. He thought the people there would be far more handsome and intelligent than those in the simple village he lived in.
So the young man set out on a journey of many years. Each night he would walk toward the setting sun. He would walk all night only to discover that the sun had risen again and hung low in the eastern sky behind him.
He would question the natives every morning – “Tell me,” he would ask. “Did the sun set here last night.” They would look at him strangely, point to the west and tell him the sun always set in the west.
So he marched on, looking for the western land where the sun set. There would be days of rain or snow when the sun was nowhere to be seen, and the young man, (now growing older) would wait for it to appear again. He crossed many borders into lands that were foreign to him. There were people of different colors, different tongues and customs that were strange to him. He crossed great oceans – great mountains – burning deserts, but to no avail.
He grew old in his search for Sunset Land and he became frail and tired. He was almost convinced the sun never really set anywhere, that it was all a cruel trick and he had wasted his life in a vain and selfish attempt to satisfy a youthful whim.
To his great surprise he arrived in the town of his birth one day and it occurred to him that, in walking westward, he had searched the earth around and was home again. He wanted to find the old man whose advice he had not taken when he was young. But the old man had died many years ago.
That evening he sat by the side of the same road facing the western mountains and watched the sun sink over the crest of that same long dark hill he remembered from a time when he was young.