I’m always so surprised to find out everything isn’t exactly like I thought it was. The things I take for granted could fill an ocean, a vast and fearful one. I wrote this in tribute to a lifetime of tunnel vision and missteps.
You Were Oblivious
You were born on a big flat rock on top of a cliff. It wasn’t a nice place. Growing up there was hard. You were always dirty and damaged. The rock smelled like sulfur most of the time and so did you. But you couldn’t leave.
From your rock you could see the rest of the cliff facing the ocean You could see the Path. It was the only place on the cliff that seemed to go somewhere, and god, you wanted to be on it. It was so beautiful, with honeysuckle and green herbs dusting it’s edges, long sweet grass tickling you as you passed. And sometime, the sea-spray from the ocean below would hit the sun just right, and the whole path would be soaked in rainbows.
You tried to leave your rock, to break the sick, unfathomable magic that kept you on it. You tried imitating the people you saw on the path, but the end result was only you marching pathetically in place on your rock. Sometimes you’d feel the force around your rock weaken, and you’d push against the pressure of it, but you never quite made it. Mostly because all it took was for one of the Pathwalkers to see you creeping up to a place you weren’t welcome to send you snapping back to your rock. Sometimes you’d get so frustrated you’d study the physical bodies of the Pathwalkers, and then bang your own bones with boulders, trying to break them into whatever shape would please the magic best, and maybe allow you to slip through.
The only good thing about your rock was that it was sturdy. You were on a cliff, after all. But your rock was driven deep through the earth to the ocean beneath, and it was strong. You could stomp and dance in clumsy leaps, which was one of your favorite things to do. The rock allowed it. You could be yourself, at least.
Then one day, almost accidentally, you slid off your rock. The force field had gotten old and worn to hold you back, and it simply fell away. And, the path was clear; no one to see you sneak into the place you were not born to be. The Path. You were on the Path!
The spray of the ocean and the sweetness of the plants washed the dirt and sulfides off of you. The bruises and cuts that proved you’d lived your life on a rock healed to nicks; wounds that could be explained away as something as simple as a prick from a wild rose. And you could walk. You could move!
Slow at first, because you aren’t used to walking anywhere but in circles. But you learned a comfortable stride. When you passed other Pathwalkers, they were only a little suspicious. In fact, soon you’d been on the path so long, and walked so confidently, they didn’t seem to question you at all.
Of course walking was fine, that’s what people did on the Path. But you were still you, and you loved to stomp and dance. You felt so confident that you belonged on the Path now that you began to incorporate a rough little skip or two into your stride. It felt great! Being who you actually were and still being allowed on the path! You stomped harder, danced higher.
And the path fell away from beneath your clumsy, rock-born feet.
The sandy soil gave way under your weight and fell straight into the swirling water 1000 feet below. You felt black terror and paralyzing surprise as you scrabbled for any tuft of grass that might save you. You dangled below the path, by a jagged stone sticking out of the earth. And you saw…the whole path was nothing but a sandy overhang. It’s well traveled durability was just an illusion. It was as delicate as meringue.
It wasn’t meant to hold you.
Rocks, the rocks you still hate, allowed you to save your life, climb hand over bloody hand back to the top of the cliff. You didn’t stand up when you’d cleared the hole in the path. You were too shaken. It was your stupid standing, jumping, stomping…your stupid assumptions that you could just become a Pathwalker while still being your stupid rock-self, that made your whole world give way.
So you scoot, scuttle, crawl. Backwards, through the grass, away from the sweet smells and fresh air. Until the ground turns to gravel under you. It cuts you and you don’t care, these cuts are at least familiar. Back and back, until you can smell the rotten sulfur, until that dirty hard rock is bruising your tailbone.
You were such a fool to think you could Walk. To think the rules of the Path, that careful, graceful tread of the other Pathwalkers, needn’t apply to you. You bring your head to your knees and turn your back to the Path, the ocean, all of it. Never again. You fool.
Of course, it’s only when you’ve finally taken your obsessive attention from the path, that you see there are three other directions, three other horizons facing your rock. Mountains, fields and forest. All beautiful, but far away; much further and harder to get to than The Path. But nothing is blocking your way in these directions. This time all you would have to do is move, stomp and even dance your way forward.