He reminded me that I had read a poem to him once and wanted me to recite it. He cued me with a few words of it and I recalled having read to him some poems of Juan Ramon Jimenez. The particular one he had in mind was entitled "El Viaje Definitivo" (The Definitive Journey). I recited it.
. . . and I will leave. But the birds will stay, singing:
and my garden will stay, with its green tree,
with its water well.
Many afternoons the skies will be blue and placid,
and the bells in the belfry will chime,
as they are chiming this very afternoon.
The people who have loved me will pass away,
and the town will burst anew every year.
But my spirit will always wander nostalgic
in the same recondite corner of my flowery garden.
"That is the feeling Genaro is talking about," don Juan said. "In order to be a sorcerer a man must be passionate. A passionate man has earthly belongings and things dear to him - if nothing else, just the path where he walks.
"What Genaro told you in his story is precisely that. Genaro left his passion in Ixtlan: his home, his people, all the things he cared for. And now he wanders around in his feelings; and sometimes, as he says, he almost reaches Ixtlan. All of us have that in common. For Genaro it is Ixtlan; for you it will be Los Angeles; for me..."
I did not want don Juan to tell me about himself. He paused as if he had read my mind.
Genaro sighed and paraphrased the first lines of the poem.
"I left. And the birds stayed, singing."
For an instant I sensed a wave of agony and an indescribable loneliness engulfing the three of us. I looked at don Genaro and I knew that, being a passionate man, he must have had so many ties of the heart, so many things he cared for and left behind. I had the clear sensation that at that moment the power of his recollection was about to landslide and that don Genaro was on the verge of weeping.
I hurriedly moved my eyes away. Don Genaro's passion, his supreme loneliness, made me cry.
I looked at don Juan. He was gazing at me.
"Only as a warrior can one survive the path of knowledge," he said. "Because the art of a warrior is to balance the terror of being a man with the wonder of being a man."