I Have Never Experienced Such Adventure...

December 11, 2007
By Lilly Balch, Vero Beach, FL

I have never experienced such adventure, emotion, or change as I did last night. It was eight o’clock and my day had seemed longer than ever. I just got home from dance and everything was ordinary except for the fact that I was exceptionally tired and I needed nothing but sleep. Therefore, I quickly washed my face, brushed my teeth and wearily went to bed. I felt my head submerge into my soft feathered pillow, I took a deep breath, closed my heavy eye lids, I seemed to sink into my bed. I thought about everything that happened that day, every kind remark and every rude remark said to me. I soon caught myself dozing off and sooner than later fell into a deep sleep.

Before I knew it, I opened my eyes and I was lying on a dark, damp, cold, stone ground. I seemed to be in a moist, chilling, cave. I stood up and started screaming “Where am I, what is this place?”No one seemed to be listening. Everyone was so distant, detached, and emotionless. With fear, I looked around and saw gauntly, wan figures. I walked over to someone and kindly asked where I was. He just stared at me and walked away as if I wasn’t even there. I probably asked twenty people before I heard an answer. I have no clue where it came from however a deep, dark voice exclaimed just one word “Hades”. I was in the Underworld, the kingdom of the dead, the realm of Hades, lying beyond the ocean at the edge of the world.

A diffident man approached me and stared at me with no emotion. He asked me what my name was and I told him. “Follow me” the man said. I was scared to death in this uninviting cave and the last thing I wanted was to get hurt, therefore, I followed him. I was oblivious to where he was going so he explained everything to me. He started off by telling me all the rivers. “There are five rivers in the underworld. Acheron, the river of woe, Cocytus, the river of lamentation, Phlegethon, the river of fire, Styx, the river of unbreakable oath by which the gods swear and Lethe, the river of forgetfulness.” I looked over to my left and saw men desperately trying to drink water from one of the rivers however each time they would reach down for a sip the water level would decrease therefore they couldn’t drink. This place is horrible, I thought to myself. After seeing all this suffering I truly believed I was in Hades. All these people I saw were not people, but in fact souls of humans that died an unlawful death.

I knew I recognized this man, but how, that’s impossible, I’m in Hades. He looked as if he was sixty years old. He was fairly tall, probably around 6'4". His skin was pale, probably only because he was in this dark, chilling, cave. His skin was wrinkled and dry, giving him a leathery, weather beaten look. His hair was black and eyes were gray beneath heavy eyebrows. One thing that stood out from the other souls in this underworld was his tall, black, top hat. After scrutinizing I finally realized the soul of the one and only Abraham Lincoln was standing right before my eyes.

To ensure I was right I decided to ask him if he really was the once living Abraham Lincoln. And he answered proud and bold “Yes I was the sixteenth president of the United States of America, also known as Abe Lincoln.” I could not believe what I was hearing. Along with many others I agree Lincoln was one of the greatest Presidents in U.S. history. Lincoln’s courageous leadership during a time of crisis for America helped to end slavery and restore union among the American states. His refusal to be discouraged by failure, his clear sense of right and wrong, his powerful writing and speaking talents, his humility, his personal charisma and magnetism, and his reputation for hard work and honesty are some of the characteristics that made Lincoln the leader he was. I am not known for being courageous and meeting this powerful man truly changed my perspective on courage. He taught me that although everyone may laugh and make fun of you it is okay to do the right thing. He told me I should feel the fear but do it anyway. I learned that if one is morally courageous this lovely gift will spread and the world will become a better place.

After meeting Lincoln I realized that although Hades appears to be a frightening, chilling place not every soul is evil. I came to the conclusion that everyone who dies a premature death is sent here. My great grandmother Kim, a very special person in my family, died due to a sudden heart attack. Because she didn’t die of old age or natural causes she must have been sent to this place. My family has many stories about my great grandmother and her greatness and all I wanted to do was actually talk to her, not talk about her. I met her when I was a young age and all I vaguely remember was her beautiful eyes and soft, kind voice. Therefore meeting her would be an honor. I decided to ask Lincoln for his help. Maybe he knew where she was; maybe I could actually meet her.

Fortunately, Lincoln knew where she was. However, I had to test my skills to ensure I truly understood the great gift of courage. Therefore, he turned my head to show me a little girl who was being picked on by teenage boys. I turned around to ask what to do and Lincoln was gone. I just kept on remembering how badly I wanted to meet my great grandmother. Suddenly, I thought about feeling the fear but doing it anyways. I decided to stick up for the young girl whether the teenage boys make fun of me of not. After saving this young girl she looked me in the eyes with a joyous smile and said “Thank you Lilly.”

How did she know my name? I looked into her beautiful green eyes and something clicked in my mind. I felt like I once knew this little girl. After pondering quite a bit I recognized my great grandmother Kim’s beautiful eyes and realized she was standing right in front of my face. I asked her why she was so young. And she told me that when she was my age her mother took her to see her great grandmother Margaret because she was sick and dying. Margaret told her not to worry or feel bad for her. Margaret then went on to explain that although her body may seem old and frail her soul remained young. She never forgot to always appreciate life as she did when she was a child. Therefore, my grandmother taught me the essence of beauty, inside and out, is youth. She said if anything I should stay young, be a child in the heart and the soul and you will live a long, wonderful life and remain young forever.

My great grandmother Kim stood up, took my hand, and said “Follow me.” She led me to a large, glorious door, looked me in the eyes and said “In order to stay young you have to think young. Now think as a young girl, who is somebody you would love to meet? Somebody who has inspired you and someone you admire.” I immediately thought of one of the most admired dancer and choreographer, Mia Michaels. My passion is dance and I would love to dance forever, even after life, in Heaven, Hades, or Hell, wherever I end up. Mia Michaels is someone who has inspired me and I’ve wanted to meet her me entire life. She died at a young age of fifty- nine in an abrupt plane crash. The magnificent doors suddenly opened and I was in an enormous dance studio with wooden ballet barres, inviting, dandelion yellow walls, Marley floors, and there she was. There was the one and only Mia Michaels right before my eyes.

“Of all the people in this underworld, what brought you here” asked Mia. I told her she brought dance to a new level, she inspired me to continue dancing even if I couldn’t handle the stress of school and being a teenager. She turned dance into inspired and unique works of passion and beauty.

All of a sudden I heard a piercing sound in my ear, a noise that seemed endless. I struggled to opened my eyes and found I was not only out of this place so called Hades but in my soft, comfortable bed. An inviting ray of sunshine was on my face and a feather pillow beneath my head. At that very moment I couldn’t believe that was all a dream, a journey that did not really happen. Despite the fact that I experienced so much terror and anxiety I learned many morals that will help me every day in my future. I learned to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, and injustice whether or not I am scared. I also learned that the essence of beauty, inside and out is to remain young in the heart and soul. I also got the chance to meet my idol, remember how beautiful the craft of dance is, and I realized my passion and love is dance.

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