Slowly he opened his eyes.
It was already late in the day, but because of the undergrowth in which he slept and because of the overcast sky he hadn’t woken up earlier. Perhaps the last night did the rest for it: He truly hadn’t slept well, he had dreamt wild things and he tossed and turned on the tree roots – in the last years he was truly used to more luxurious beds for the night!
Now he crawled out of the undergrowth, gathered his bundle and his stick out of the entanglement of leaves and looked for an open clearance to start a fire. With numb fingers he collected a trifle of foliage and wood, and after having started the fire and warmed up his fingers a bit at it, he put a kettle onto it and poured all the rest of water of his drinking bottle into it. Out of the depths of his bundle he brought a small amount of odorous spices into the light of the day and gave them to the water in the kettle – the last tangible rest that linked him to the land where he has erstwhile come from: Cloves – they have been the favourite spice of his mother. Cardamom – his father had flavoured his coffee with it. And pepper – never a soup without pepper was to his liking. As the spicy mixture cooked for a while bubbling in the kettle he took his jar and gave an odd lot of honey into it – he learned about that sweet temptation only in that land. He poured the spicy brew over it and looked how the honey slowly melted. With the honey the tensions in his head dissolved, and while he was soaking in the scent of the spicy tea with his nose, he felt remembered to a further site of his past: At-Ta’ir.
“At-Ta’ir.” After he had spoken out this name his thoughts kept quiet for a long time.
As a young man he has come to At-Ta’ir, briefly after his arrival to that land that at first appeared cold and inhospitable to him. In the winter of his coming an old man had shown him the way thither, and on the heels of his arrival there he got a jar of spicy tea to warm his cold limbs. The precise composition of the tea was the resolutely kept secret of the master of the kitchen, but he felt confident in having brought out the mixture pretty good. Once again he inhaled the scent deeply before he took a sip of the hot beverage and traced how the taste expanded everywhere in his mouth, how the liquor flowed down his throat and how every corner of his body became suffused of the warmth.
That was one of the things that he was taught in At-Ta’ir at first: To concentrate fully onto an action, not to think about the before and after, but to be completely within that what you were doing just now. Even if it were the drinking of tea, the folding of clothing or the sweeping of the courtyard: It happened entirely in the present.
Only if one mastered that one were admitted to the second degree: The physical training of the concrete techniques. Because only when a warrior was able to concentrate completely to that what he was doing he was a good warrior, because a combat occurs in the present, not in the past or the future.
Said drank the last gulp of his jar. The memory to the concentration to the moment refreshed him together with the tea so much that he could set out. He grabbed his bundle, quenched the fire, leaned on his stick and went off.