The Journeys of Socratesby Dan Millman
The Way Begins . . .
Sergei was three when the soldiers took him. At fifteen he fled into the wilderness, with nothing to cling to but the memories of a grandfather who called him Socrates and the promise of a gift buried near St. Petersburg. Thus begins The Journeys of Socrates -- an odyssey that forged the character of Sergei/em>/center>/p>… See more details below
The Way Begins . . .
Sergei was three when the soldiers took him. At fifteen he fled into the wilderness, with nothing to cling to but the memories of a grandfather who called him Socrates and the promise of a gift buried near St. Petersburg. Thus begins The Journeys of Socrates -- an odyssey that forged the character of Sergei Ivanov, whose story would one day change the lives of millions of readers worldwide. This saga of courage and faith, of love and loss, reveals the arts of war and the path to peace. Ultimately, it speaks to the quest we all share for a meaningful life in a challenging world.
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The Journeys of SocratesAn Adventure
By Dan Millman
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Dan Millman
All right reserved.
Sergei was worried, that October day, when he was summoned to his uncle's office. Being summoned -- a rare event for any young cadet -- usually meant bad news or punishment. So, in no hurry to stand before the chief instructor's stern face and downturned brows, Sergei wandered across the school compound at a distinctly unmilitary pace.
He was supposed to think of Vladimir Ivanov not as his uncle but as Chief Instructor. He also was not supposed to ask personal questions, though he had many -- about his parents and about his past. The chief instructor had said little about either one, except on that day four years ago when he'd announced that Sergei's father had died.
Each spot Sergei passed in the inner courtyard held memories of earlier years: the first time he'd ridden a horse, bouncing wildly, clinging to the reins in a death grip ... one of many fistfights he'd gotten into due to a quick temper, then lost due to his frail disposition.
He passed the infirmary and the small apartment of Galina, the elderly school nurse, who had watched over him when he'd first arrived. She had wiped his nose when he was sick and brought him to meals until he found his own way around. Too young to live in abarrack, he had slept on a cot just off the infirmary wing until he was five. It was a lonely time, with no place of his own and nowhere he fit in. The cadets treated him like a mascot or pet dog -- petted one day, beaten the next.
Most of the other boys had mothers or fathers at home; Sergei had only his uncle, so he worked hard to please the chief instructor. His efforts, however, only earned the wrath of the older cadets, who called him "Uncle's Vlad's boy." They would trip, push, or punch him at every opportunity -- a moment's inattention might mean bruises or worse. Older cadets routinely bullied the younger ones, and physical beatings were commonplace. The instructors knew about it but looked the other way unless someone was seriously injured. They tolerated the fights because it spurred the younger boys to toughen up and stay alert. It was, after all, a military school.
The first time Sergei was accosted by an older cadet, over in the corner of the compound, he started swinging wildly, sensing that if he backed down there would be no end to it. The older boy gave him a good beating, but Sergei managed to get in one or two good punches, and the boy never bothered him after that. Another time he had come upon two cadets beating a new boy. Sergei had attacked them with more rage than skill. They had backed off, treating the whole thing like a joke. But it was no joke to the new boy, whose name was Andrei and who had been Sergei's only real friend ever since.
Just after his fifth birthday, Sergei was moved into a barrack with the seven- to ten-year-olds. Older boys lived upstairs, and anyone over sixteen lived in another building. The older boys ruled the barracks. Every cadet dreaded a move to the next floor, where he again would be the youngest and therefore the prey. Meanwhile, Sergei and Andrei watched each other's backs.
Of the years prior to his arrival, Sergei had only hazy impressions -- as if he had been cocooned in another world, not yet awakened into this one. But sometimes, when he searched his memory, he glimpsed fleeting images of a large woman with arms as soft as bread dough and a man with a halo of white hair. Sergei wondered who they were; he wondered about a great many things.
He had gazed at maps of Mother Russia and other countries on the classroom walls, and his finger had circled the globe on his teacher's desk, tracing lines across sky blue seas and lands colored orange, yellow, purple, and green. But he no more expected to visit such places than he thought to visit the moon or stars.
His world -- until that day in October of 1880 -- was defined largely by the stone walls, blockhouses, barracks, classrooms, and training grounds of the Nevskiy Military School. Sergei had not chosen this place, but he accepted it, as children must, and passed his early years in orderly routines of class work and physical training: military history, strategy and geography, riding, running, swimming, and calisthenics.
Whenever the cadets weren't in their classrooms or on work assignments, they practiced fighting skills. In the summer Sergei had to swim under the cold waters of Lake Krugloye while breathing through a hollow reed, and practice elementary skills with the saber, and shoot arrows with bows he could barely bend. When he was older he would shoot pistols and carbines.
It was not a bad life or a good life, but the only one he knew.
Excerpted from The Journeys of Socrates by Dan Millman Copyright © 2006 by Dan Millman. Excerpted by permission.
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