Whilst searching for the fortitude with which I would resign myself to mediocrity, I set foot to the ground and traveled into the wilds so as to gather the courage for acquiescence. Upon the first low sun of my journey, I took shelter and rest beneath a swaying pine. Before us lay a quagmire offering nothing to replenish a depleted body. Even the glimmering rays of dusk disappeared into its depths; the murky water refusing to give reflection.
Another day’s travel found my neck browned from the sun’s steady glow and my legs caked with the blood coaxed forth by the bushes’ thorns. By twilight I rested on the bank of a meandering stream. Sunset danced across the dawdling current, amethyst sky stretching and rolling over polished rocks, orange shafts of refracted light twisting around great boulders and hiding in reedy shallows. Sleep welcomed the weary spirit, which the body cushioned by soft moss held.
By the journey’s third day mine eyes had set on the summit of a distant mountain, and mind told body the strength of spirit to settle for typicality laid amongst the clouds hiding the terrestrial peak yonder like the small fruits veiled in morning’s thick fog. The lazy stream that had night prior wet my mouth and lulled me into sleep like a self-soothing newborn received its life force from fresh rime atop the great earthen projection I sought to ascend .
Treachery in way of unsure footing, and assistance from vineage which did behave like the hand of a stranger whose pleasure derives from giving false assurance of strength only to release his grip and gleefully watch a gullible victim fall back from whence thee stumbled made the day one that left my hands marred, knees bruised, and life force depleted. The anger harbored towards the weakness within and my need to conquer the mountain pushed my legs forward until all light had drained from above. Celestial radiance was obscured by the protruding branches that mockingly poked at my arms continuously. Only when I had fallen amongst the ground litter and hadn’t strength to again stand did I fold my tired body up like that of a fetus and surrender myself to sleep.
Shivers wracked the stiffened bones, shook awake the disillusioned eyes and re-bore the vitality that had set in, developed and receded respectively. The bursting gales carried away the sparkling crystals of water that had sought to warm themselves out of existence by nestling my body. As I rose from the damp earth and dead leaves below it came to be that I was enwrapped in the current of the sky; clouds swathed my body and kissed my warm skin before obeying the breeze’s tugs and commands of obedience, drifting away. I was the great boulder that the lazy current twirled around. The crisp exhalations of the high crag filled my lungs with verve, muscles twitching at the rejuvenation.
Standing at the commencement of my final charge to the apex, my mind greedy to drink in all the resilience the highlands had to offer, smoke began to churn about my head and fill my nostrils. The whistling of the air and the sharp rocks spoke their own chants, and so a faint, distant greeting of hello did not fall as such on my ears, my mind did believe the winds to be the speaker. But lo, I looked for the source of the sensory effluence and found a man dressed in skins who lofted his staff high, disrupting the tranquil, milky air that clung to him like peasants to an emperor.
With a booming voice as deep as overhead thunder he did ask of me, “From whence have thee traveled? I know the distance must be great.”
“From the village far below, whose peoples dare not cast eye upon this upsurge of rock nor entertain the notio n of traveling upon her.”
“And yet here ye be, standing before me in the mist of daybreak. Sun is yet doing battle with Night to earn the reward of banishing Morning Dew.”
So that the great man who wore the skin of Bear did not take aggression against my encroachment, I yelled to him over the gales: “It is not for rebellious reasons I have come. Rather, I have left my village to come here so that I may procure the countenance to spend the rest of my days amongst her people as a nameless hand that bales the sheaves and feeds the stock. I have come for strength to face mine enslavers, to find the spirit to be bound myself like the sheaves. They seek the sky in their growth the way I doth by foot, yet each of us are cut down for the sake of what is said to be good by the sages in our midst.”
After bearing my heart to the dweller of the high slopes, he rested his bearded chin upon the tip of his ironwood staff in contemplation. Raising himself to speak, the man seemed mightier than he was priorly, as if each breath gave power for his shoulders to widen and his spine to lengthen.
“Your story rings true to me, weary traveler, for thou are not amongst the first in the low village to seek clarity on matters within by removing thyself to this elevation. As I have sought bounty from the ground and that which springs from it, I find where thou heavy feet hath trampled the delicate fruits. When I am keen for game, thou moans of confliction and questions of self cause them to stir and to flee. Rebellion is perhaps not in thy mind, but is on thy heart. Thee wishes to abstain from the death of diversity thou feel thyself condemned to and so hath sought sanctuary here.”
I meditated on what was being spoken to me and the heart inside spoke to me of its fresh enlightenment: that which had been uttered was the cadence of my feet, the pitch of my spirit and the hue of my life force. Before I could thank him for the clarity yielded me in the haze of the mountain I heard thunder again.
“The villagers, thy people, see only what is before them. They are like the moles who dwell the earth, making hasty paths that wander aimlessly, all the while proclaiming their work straight and true. Yet Eagle knows truths not yielded to those below, not from his wisdom but from his vantage. I watch the injudicious scurrying from my high perch; I know the ‘straight path’s’ windings. The sheaves harvested are cut to thwart their escape to the sky. Their stalks grow true, for they know the way to clarity. Homes are built from the mightiest trees to fit this selfsame motive.
“And so many a man hath come to visit this mountain, his mouth naming the heart’s purpose many things. All seek the same as thou, and those who dare tread the steep slopes are yet to bear the burdens of life. For the heavy and bent backs of the aged entrap them at the foothills. They have learned mediocrity and mediocrity has pervaded the essence, calling itself by many other names. Not the least of which is “right” or “good.”
“What am I to do?” I inquired of the man wearing eagle feathers about his hair, talons about his neck. “The village below seems now as muddied as the lightless swamp I settled near two nights prior.”
The man spoke again, holding his arm out to me.
“This skin of Bear which doth scare off chills and drinks in dew was not born to me. Neither hath I a weapon with which to kill at distance. No, I settled into this skin the way you must settle into your own: with a clear mind and light feet. Let not thy thoughts be burdened by nor envious of the height of the crop, thee must harvest just the same. Trample not the sweet fruits of nature as you contemplate thy lot. Walk lightly within thy own forest and find within thyself that which doth scare off the chills of angst and drinks in dew borne of saddened eyes. Wrap thyself in skin so even though the tempest doth yet blow, ye may know the wonder of being warm.”
I did then depart from the man of the mountain to meditate on all of his words. Upon finding the unchanged murky water, which was yet stubborn and did not give reflection, I looked to the left and looked to the right and found succulent water plants. I looked to my thrashed legs and saw not all of which stained me was bitter blood; for I tasted it and some was the sweet nectar of berries imparted on me as I journeyed.
Upon returning home I was given to believe myself a fool having traversed the land beyond the clouds. Yet he who dwelleth amongst the earth and wears dirt on his face and hands mocks easily those with wings, which soar majestically and understand trueness from unlying perspective. So was I mocked though I bore the same filth upon my body at days’ end, for I had seen the low land from Eagle’s vantage; my journey a scar to be bore the entirety of life remaining.