"Begin" she said.
"The story is inside of you."
But I don't feel anything.
"There is only now."
There is only now. Love, lust, adventure, passions, loss, questions these are all but a part of the journey. All we are is now.
Thus I sat out on a great journey. The greatest journey of my life, to tell my story. Lost in the words, in the storyline even of my own narrative. I could not understand how a story that I had personally lived could be so difficult to tell.
A wise man came to me and asked if I could be granted anything. What is it that I would want to make my life complete?
'I want to tell my story,' I said bravely, for I always had a fear of speaking my needs.
'Very well then' he said. 'You have been gifted the ability to be present. There is no limit on the number of times you can be and will be present in your life.'
I awoke from a dreamlike state; I wondered if the last few hours were of my imagination. The stone next to my bed told me otherwise. It's weight, heavy, like the consequences of what I had confided to the wise man and I, as usual, doubted.
Had anything changed? Was I the same? A choice. I had been given free will to choose to be present and I did not realize yet the gravity.
I followed the narrative across the countryside. I dug holes deep into the earth believing it would be another stone that would catch my eye and lead me to the answer. There was no solace. My searching became a deep bottomless pit in which the darkness drove me only to dig deeper still and darker. Thus I was and felt very alone.
Somewhere along the highland of those hills I called out to the wise man, believing he would hear or greater still he would appear and really grant me what I had asked. I just wanted my story. I didn't want a journey. I only wanted answers.
Patient and faithful as he was, he did come. He picked up a handful of sand and put it in mine, as it slipped through the cracks of my fingers. His quiet gaze met mine.
'Not people. Not feelings.
'Not love. Not moments.' Not possessions.'
All sliding through the cracks I could not contain.
I cried. For me. For those I could not hold or know forever. For the feelings of beauty that fled faster from my heart than the beautiful birds that flew over my head as I thought this thought.
The wise man left me to traversing those hills. My loneliness returned. Hours, maybe days passed and with every stone of remembrance I added to my sack, I began to question its weight over its worth. I slipped my thumbs under the straps to push my bag higher upon my shoulders and as I jumped to move them, the thread-barren bag ripped from my back, spilling the contents behind me. Was that a scream that came from my throat, but I heard no sound. I could re-tie the straps but the more I began picking up those stones, the very pieces of me, the more memories that flooded my mind. I had no knowledge of the length of my journey ahead and my heart was most raw -- to leave these stones here on the ground where they lay wouldn't make me any more. I couldn't have predicted how that would have felt. The roots of those stones sliding from my insides, ripping parts of me away with them with every step I distanced myself from them. And yet, more light, more air, the weightlessness of my burdenless back replaced my discomfort, slowly without effort, and I came so close to flying across those hills.
I felt the desire to connect most great. I needed validation. I wanted to tell what I just endured, what I allowed myself to do. But no one that crossed my path provided my relief. I needed validation. What did it matter? Did I matter?
Enticing a sweet songbird with a crust of bread I caught him just barely in my grasp. His soft wings, fluttering inside of my palms reminded me of his delicacy and how he belonged in the sky. I walked on through town after town, listening to him sing, still feeling him struggle. He told me I mattered of that I felt most certain. My arms were now heavy and cramping of carrying him but I was unable to let him go. His voice became quieter. I needed his songs.
I killed him unknowingly, unassumingly, quietly in my sweaty grasp. No place adequate to bury the little fellow. He fell limp on the path my feet long far tread.
There were many tears on this journey while I, I was still waiting to see the writing in the sky.
At this point in my story I had lost everything. Like the sharp rises and falls between the mountains I was traversing, I , too, had peaks and valleys in me. These continued storms were leveling them. I could do naught but walk on.
Journeying northward, I followed the highlands of those dunes to a body of water with which I was unfamiliar. A storm was blowing in and in the distance I watched the lightning strike across those waters and felt the rumble of thunder spread goosebumps on my skin. It was magnificent. I waded into the shallow warm waves crashing over my feet and for the first time in a long time, did nothing. Non-reactive. I stood there, in the stillness, as the rain began to fall. I felt my hair sticking to my cheeks and chin -drip, drip- dripping off my nose and still, I could not move. My clothes clung to frame. I was not afraid. Somehow for the first time in my life, here, now, wading in these waters, there was a peace in me much stronger than the winds closing in from the sea.