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Break it Down

It took me several years to encounter my first wall. Up until that point, my little path through the woods had been empty; I had been free to wander down it as I pleased. I had known nothing besides the forest, and my days were full of wonder at the majestic world surrounding me. In awe, I would stare at the drops on sunlight trickling between the stretching branches. I listened to the soft wind, the running stream. Everything--the spongy moss, rough and snapping bark, sweet flowers--amazed me. I journeyed with clothe draped over my body, a miniscule pack upon my back, and a sense of adventure in the air. I was alone, but was walking in a constant state of bliss sweeter than the finest maple.

Then, I stumbled upon the first wall. The first one was a small; just a few twigs intermingling with stones, stacked atop one another in messy piles. Behind the wall sat a girl as little as I was at the time. She was beautiful; hair of ebony silk, chip-of-the-sky eyes, and snowy skin. Surprised, I peered at the wall and the girl. I had never seen anything like them. Enchanted and curious, I asked the little girl what she was doing on my path. Her eyes grew wide, and she replied that she didn't know. She said that she'd been walking, just as I was, but slowly sticks and stones began to follow her. Then one day she woke up surrounded by them, and unable to move.

Shyly, the little girl and I began to talk. I learned more about her, and I told her a bit about me. Together we giggled and tried to play games, but it was difficult because the wall separated us. When the sky dimmed and the moon began to glimmer, I laid down on my side of the wall. That night, instead of continuing down the path, I decided to stay with the little girl. We slept on the soft, dusty ground, enchanted by the wilderness around us.

The next day, I stayed with the little girl again. Even though I promised myself I'd continue on my journey the day after that, I stayed with her again. Soon, I all but forgot about my path; I was having too much fun with my night-haired friend. I was having so much fun, in fact, that I didn't notice something very, very important--the size of her wall was dwindling. Finally, one day she and I realized that it was barely there anymore. My friend leaped over the few twigs left and sped around our little area of the woods, elated. Happily I ran with her, and we collapsed in a state of laughter.

My friend and I enjoyed our freedom together, but after a certain amount of time, we both new it was time to move on. Embracing, we said our goodbyes, and sparkling softness dropped from our eyes to the ground. Before she left, I knew I had to show her how much I cared about her. I reached into the pack on my back and pulled out a gift for her. Eyes alight, she wanted to know what it was so, I gave her my Spontaneity, then went on my way.

I traveled for a fair amount of time after, hopping happily down my weaving path. My bell-like laughter filled the fresh air, and I listened to the crunching and snapping of twigs beneath my feet as I ran. Sometimes I thought about my friend with white-as-the-moon skin, but I knew she was safe and happy. After all, I had given her my gift.

It was not long before I encountered my second wall. This one was much larger and sturdier than the first; it consisted of smooth stones stacked up high, high, HIGH. At first, excitement bubbled through me because I thought my black-haired friend sat behind the wall. I called out, asking if she was there. A voice did answer me, but it was not the voice of my friend. The voice behind the wall told me that she'd been behind the wall for a long time, and she wanted out. Even though I was disappointed that it wasn't my friend, I was curious about the girl behind the second wall. We talked, timidly at first, but then I asked her how she wound up behind the wall. The second girl painted a picture of harsh winters and black-as-coal nights. Like my first friend, the stones followed her around but by the time she noticed, she was trapped behind them. Soon, the conversation between us began to flow naturally. When the night came I tossed Comfort over the wall and stayed with her. The next day, we talked again.

The skies shifted from azul to crimson to deep black, but we barely noticed because we were so consumed by conversation. Mostly, my new friend talked and I listened attentively. Her insides shifted rapidly, and she often cried. Whenever I heard her sobs, it felt as if some invisible force was taking a hammer to my chest. I stayed with her for a long time--longer than I had with my first friend. Then one day, I woke up and was delighted to discover that I could see over her wall; it had shortened in stature significantly. Peeping over the dwindling wall, I caught my first sight of the second girl.

This girl was not like the last. This girl had hair like a sunset--auburn and sun-kissed strands intermingling and falling gracefully over her face and back. A handful of freckles had been tossed on her cheeks, and she stood tall and compact.

The more we conversed, the more I knew about my freckle faced friend, the smaller the wall became. Finally, we awoke to discover that there was a mere pile of stones left; my friend was free. Jumping up and down, we embraced and ran happily. For a few days, the two of us enjoyed the company of one another, splashing in the creeks and scurrying up to the tippy top of trees.

But we both knew that this couldn't last forever--we both needed to go on. Mutually, my friend and I realized that it was time to part ways. Even though this was my second goodbye, it was just as hard as the first. My vision became blurry and my throat constricted, and even though words did not come easily. I needed to show her how much I cared about her so, reaching into my back, I pulled out a gift for her. Gently, I placed my Compassion in her hands. Without turning back, I walked away.

The next wall I came across was higher than the first two combined, and it was made of solid bricks. This time, a boy sat behind the wall. It took a long time before he talked to me, but once he did the wall began to crumble. When at last the entire wall had dispersed, we understood each other in a way no one else could understand us. As tenderly as I could, I gave him my Love.

The farther I traveled down my path, the more walls I met. Some walls were larger than others, and everyone I met was unique. I met one girl whose darkness radiated from within her. This girl's arms were criss-crossed with red blazing marks, and her body appeared emaciated. After endless frustration and anger, her wall began to inch down. Finally, when it came all the way to the forest floor, I gave her my Patience. To others, I gave my Energy, my Hope, my Resiliency. The last thing I gave away was my Strength.

That day, it occurred to me that the pack I carried should have been growing lighter because of the many gifts I was giving away. Why didn't it weigh less? Exhausted from a long day's travel, I stopped and set down my pack. Pulling it open, I looked inside. Much to my surprise, I saw a jumbled heap of large stones inside. Wrinkling my eyebrows in confusion, I looked up from my pack.

A shock met my eyes; a wall had appeared around me.

What was that doing there? Jumping to my feet, I flew to the wall. I shoved it and banged on it, but my efforts were in vain. No matter how hard I pushed, the wall just stood there, mocking me. I began to grow desperate, kicking and hitting, but the wall remained unchanging. I even tried climbing over the wall and digging underneath it. Nothing worked.

I don't know how long I stayed trapped behind the wall. My hair reached down to my lower back, and my body elongated. Spirit gone, I curled up in a corner, not sure what else to do. I wondered how long this night would last, because it seemed to stretch on and on. Would I ever wander down my path again? I tried to hope, but then I realized that I had given that away.

Finally, just when I thought I couldn't stand the drowning silence any longer, a voice sliced through the stillness like a fish cutting through water. Recognizing the voice, I perked up immediately. It was my first friend, with raven-coloured hair and crystal blue eyes. She asked if I was there and I cried to her that yes, I was there. Then, more voices joined hers and soon a chorus of words overwhelmed me. I recognized my second friend, my third friend, and so on; everyone I knew had come.

My friends came and went in shifts. First, I talked to my friend with hair the colour of night. After a while, I told her about how I was so tired and worn from the long walk down the path. I told her that I felt emptier than a dry river bed. Sympathetically, she listened to me and told me she was there for me. Her words comforted me more than I could say. I don't know how much time passed, but after some time, we knew it was time for her to leave. She threw something over the wall and I caught it. In my hands, I held her Valor.

My friends came one by one. I caught up with them and asked them how they were fairing, but in the end I talked the most. I told them that my path no longer excited me; I told them that my forest no longer seemed so compassionate. Each of them listened to me kindly, and when it was time for them to leave, they tossed a gift over the wall. From my friends I received Passion, Care, Acceptance, and Serenity, to name a few. Slowly but surely, I began to feel whole again. My wall began to inch down, and my spirits wiggled up. I even smiled, which felt foreign to my stony cheeks. Then, on occasion, laughter sprang from my lips before I could catch it. Happiness was returning.

I had thought that my wall would never come down. But then one day I woke up to find myself restrained by nothing but fresh air. Immediately, I hopped up and looked wildly about, not sure where to run first.

Life was new--I was new. I absorbed everything around me voraciously; the springy grass, resilient against my feet; the cool, squishy mud; the rolling wind. My heart felt as free as the world surrounding me. Soon, my friends joined me. We ran and ran endlessly, until our breath fell behind and we had to wait for it to catch up. Wildly, our hearts beat against us, ready to explode with exhilaration.

And so my friends and I continued on down our little path. Each day was an adventure, and each night was a balm. Sometimes, one of us would look into our pack and find a handful of rocks. The rocks would never stay long though, because we gave each other gifts when needed. Sometimes, when I peered into my pack to find rocks, one of my friends would give me Courage or Peace. Then, later, when a different friend was weighed down by his or her pack, I would pass on a gift. Even though our travels were not always easy, the difficulty of it just made our journey all the more beautiful.



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TheRainbowWanderer said...
Jul. 2, 2011 at 2:36 am
Nice article- an apt metaphor for life, I think. There's a few little things that could make it flow better, but on the whole it's an easy and engaging read.
 
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