Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Stone's Throw from Paradise

Since birth, he’s only ever known struggle. Life was heavier for him, literally, for a giant stone was chained to his back, digging deeper into the earth with every laborious and unforgiving step. All he ever wanted to do was feel his feet washed over by the waves of the ocean, but that stone kept him weighed down, imprisoning him inland. He so desperately wanted to feel those waves break, to wiggle his toes into the sand and watch them disappear under the comforting heat of every tiny granule. Yet, that stone, that burden, loomed too large, and he was stuck. He could see his goal, he could taste the salt in the air, but that stone was just too big for him to move.

With his mind fixated on that horizon of hope, he never allowed himself the chance to befriend anyone, or to fall in love, or to simply enjoy the little things in life. With each struggle to take a step towards the ocean, and with each refusal of that stone to move, he concentrated more and more on the feeling of that chain digging deeper into his skin. He couldn’t look to the left or the right. He never noticed the flowers blooming with a glory unmatched by anything else in creation. He never heard the majesty of Bach’s Concerto No.5 or the exuberance of a baby’s laughter. So much of life was lost on him. All he knew was the pain of that chain, the weight of that stone…the weight of unachieved aspirations. Finally, something within him snapped, and with the voice of a broken and humiliated man he yelled, “Somebody help!”

In an instant, the pain, the burden, the struggle…it all vanished. The chain somehow fell from his back and he collapsed, face first into the ground. “Free,” he whispered into the dirt. “Free.” Lifting himself from the ground, he turned to face his burden. That’s when he noticed her. She stood there, in one hand holding the end of his chain, in the other a bottle of water. “Drink this,” she said, her voice sounding to his ears like the whole host of heaven. “What…how did you…I don’t understand,” he gasped as he drank that water like it was the first time it had ever touched his lips. “How did you set me free?”

“It was easy. There was no lock on the chain. Just a knot. All I did was tug on the end, and the rest fell away.”

“Huh? That easy?” Thoughts began to run through his mind. “I’ve been pulling this rock around for years. You’re not the first person to see me struggling with it.” The anger began to rise within him as he thought about all of those wasted years. “Why did no one help me before today?”

“Simple,” she said. “Before today, you never asked for it. Now, hurry up. If we walk quickly, we can just make high tide.”

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