The old man had watched eagerly as the tracks came closer and closer to his village. Many of his friends were far more pessimistic about their imminent arrival. “They’ll just bring criminals and city people. They’ll destroy our land,” was a common reason they gave. But the old man did not believe that, and besides, he was far more concerned with where those tracks could take him.
Finally, the tracks came through the village and they kept going on further. Soon after the trains came. The old man met many strange and wonderful people. They told him tales of the city and even other countries. They brought with them contraptions that astounded him. One man showed him one that he claimed could capture images. The old man could not believe it until he was shown a picture of the great river that flowed through the city with hazy buildings along its banks.
The old man had to wait a while before he could afford to pay for a ticket but at long last he had saved enough money and he immediately was on his way. His mind still could not comprehend the machinery that could move such huge objects as the trains carriages with apparent ease so fast. But that did not matter as his body could experience it and find it exhilarating.
In what seemed like an incredibly short period of time the tracks brought him into the great city. It dwarfed him and made him feel very small, but it swelled his heart to see such great wonders. His favourite sight was at the station where he saw there were dozens of other tracks which headed in all different directions. The old man was excited that he would have to buy many more tickets still.
“What’s that in there?” was the question which drove my life.
It carried me halfway across the galaxy opening tombs and crypts, secret passageways and closed boxes. It led to so much more mystery and inquisition. Why was it in there? When was it put there? Who put it there?
That question had led me to hidden cities older than the human race, hordes of jewels that would shame an Egyptian pharaoh, secret writings better hidden than any government file. It had also led me to danger, to fame, to fortune, to life spent millions of miles away from home.
Eventually, the only place left to look at was myself. “What’s in there?” Nothing. So long spent looking, had I found anything worthwhile? There was always something to be found. But not this time. I had to put something there. I travelled millions of miles just to end up back where I started.
But I found something. I always did. I found the greatest mystery of them all: I found my wife. Soon we had a son and I found that when I asked of myself “what’s in there?” that I had found a truly great treasure.
One day I was walking along a beach, an unremarkable stretch of coast that years ago would have held no interest to me. My son was running along lifting every stone he could looking for crabs, he examined every rock pool for pockets of fish. “What’s that in there?” he called to me, pointing to a cave opening out of a cliff face. “I don’t know,” I replied. “Let’s go and found out.” And we went in together to unravel the great mystery of the cave.