There’s no cheat sheet for life. We each get our own instruction manual when we’re born, but it’s written in a language we have to learn.
I can remember a story about a boy, he grew into me. That memory is meaningless in my life, despite being the only foundation I have to define myself.
What I know of myself today is that I am capable of things I never expected. I am talented and strong. I am expressive and openly emotional.
Those few things don’t define me.
I am mid-way through a life expectancy, and I have yet to figure out how I belong in my own life, beyond a very strong attachment to my current situation.
I choose to let my emotional reactions to experiences be the prow of my ship. I cut the waters of my journey with how I feel. I direct my path by what feels right to me.
I am secure in this choice. It suits me.
I have been faced with opposition to my choice for as long as I have existed. Close or distant, family or friends, I have been told how wrong I am, over and over.
I have not, I will not allow anyone else to choose my path.
My path must be travelled by my feet. Nobody else is required to live my life.
I don’t know you, and I don’t know how you have chosen, and with all due respect,
I don’t give a damn what you choose.
Your choices may impact my life.
Mine might impact yours.
We are not solitary islands, separated by oceans. We are interactive and interdependent in this reality. We are pieces of a global machine.
My choices will be mine, and yours will be yours, and that is just fine with me.
So give me your indifference, in this difference.
We have our own lives to fuck up.
The sunlight through the clear stone was warm. The cub moved the stone side-to-side and watched the light change color. Red, yellow, green, blue, the cub lay on his side and pushed the stone with his paws.
As the light turned yellow again, the cub heard something from above. Looking up into the trees around him, he spotted the falcon from the willow tree sitting on a branch high above the forest floor. The falcon watched him, unmoving.
Their eyes locked and the cub felt something pass through his body, warmth spreading from his chest to his legs. Time seemed to stand still as the wolf and falcon gazed at each other.
Pain shot through the wolf cub’s paw and his eyes darted quickly down. The clear stone had light shining through it, and where the light fell on some fallen pine needles, a bright red burst of heat was growing.
Jumping back, the wolf cub watched in horror as the flame consumed the needles and started reaching up the nearby tree. The heat grew intense, billowing out from the flame and leaping up the tree trunk.
One burning tree became two, then three. The fire seemed angry, lashing out at all of the world.
The wolf cub ran.
The fire chased.
Reaching his pack’s den, the cub started howling and barking at his family.
“Go! We must go!”
His packmates looked at him as though he were mad and started yipping at him.
“Why?” “What happened?” “What’s wrong?”
“What did you do?”
The last question was growled from the throat of his sire. A huge black and grey wolf, the pack leader stood a few paces away, hackles raised.
“What did you do?”
The cub shrunk away, fearful of his sire’s anger. He had seen many times his sire challenged by other wolves, and every time the challengers had limped away bleeding, or died.
“Fire,” the cub whined. “It comes.”
Sniffing the air, the pack leader stared the cub down. “What part of this do you own?”
“The clear stone, it let’s light through, and-”
A sharp growl cut off the rest of his words, and the pack leader leapt toward the cub. Bowling him over with a shoulder thrust, the great Wolf leaned in close and snapped his massive jaws at the young wolf.
“Your fault. You, with your games. You have never been what you should be. This ends, now.”
Lunging toward the young wolf’s throat, jaws gaping, the big wolf was surprised by the younger wolf’s shoulder in his chest. A fierce push set the bigger wolf back on his heels, and the two started circling each other.
“So, the pup wants to play,” the older beast spoke with derision. “Come at me, then, pup.”
Feinting toward the young wolf’s face, then snapping at his flank, the big jaws ripped a gash along the young wolf’s side.
Falling back, then quickly jumping toward his sire, the cub bit down hard on the big wolf’s front leg. Blood filled his mouth as he shook his head, and he heard a cracking noise as the leg broke in his jaws.
As he let go, the bigger wolf turned and closed his jaws on the young wolf’s neck, just behind his shoulders.
A sharp scream filled the air then, and a grey blur from the sky became the falcon, swooping down and burying her talons in the great wolf’s eyes. As she pulled away the older wolf snapped his jaws up at her, and found purchase in her leg. Stabbing with her beak, the falcon ripped the great wolf’s face open as she flew out of reach.
Wounded grievously and blinded, the great wolf snarled and snapped his jaws aimlessly, hopping in a circle with his broken leg lifted.
The young cub closed quickly, sinking his jaws into the soft throat of the old wolf. Clamping down and shaking, the cub tasted his sire’s life passing through his jaws.
Motionless on the ground, the great wolf died with a small whimper, and the young wolf backed away.
Looking around, he spotted the falcon on a branch above. Bleeding from her leg, she looked down at the blood-covered wolf. She gathered her strength and leapt into the air with a short squawk.
The smell of smoke and the crackling of flames consuming the forest got the cub moving. With a final glance at his deceased sire, he raced after the falcon, through the forest.
You are Curiosity
Seven moons had passed since the cub found the strange tree-thing in the clearing. He had grown strong, almost as big as his sire. Learning to hunt had made him fast and agile.
However, the cub had a tendency toward being distracted easily. His sire and packmates were often displeased by the cub’s flights of fancy.
Your first duty is to your pack, his sire would tell him. Chasing butterflies won’t fill your belly, or your pack’s.
Roaming far away from the pack’s den, the cub had found many things that he did not understand. A half day’s walk from the den the cub found a great expanse of sparkling rocks and water that stretched forever.
For hours the cub would walk through the rocks, listening to the murmur of the water as it caressed the stones. Each rock was different, an array of colors and shapes unlike anything to be found in the forest. Gray birds flew over the rocks and landed at the edge of the water. The cub would chase them into the air, then run away as they screeched at him and dived at his heels, swooping down where he had been. The cub thought it great fun to see the surprise in the bird’s eyes when he would stop and snap his jaws at them. The squawking and sudden changes of direction filled his heart with mischievous joy.
At the end of the sparkling rocks a huge stone sat, with a giant willow tree growing over the top. The cub would sit under its low-hanging branches and stare through the leaves, for some reason the place filled him with peace and a small sadness.
On this day the cub crept quietly under the canopy of willow branches and heard a soft crooning sound. Looking up, the cub saw a falcon sitting alone in the highest branches. The bird stepped side-to-side and made the soft sound with eyes closed.
A small chuff escaped the cub’s throat, and the falcon’s eyes opened quickly. Staring down at the cub for a moment, the falcon slowly extended her wings. A small shake off her beak startled the cub back on his heels, then the falcon leapt into the air and flew away.
The cub watched the graceful flight, feeling a deep sense of envy for the effortless way the falcon swept through the sky.
To be so free…
The cub stayed under the willow tree until sunset, hoping the falcon would return. As the sun dropped into the water he started for home. As he reached the edge of the sparkling rocks a glint of light caught his eye. Sitting half-buried in the sand under the rocks was a stone unlike any the cub had seen. Gripping with his teeth, the cub pulled the strange stone up then dropped it on the ground. Perfectly clear except for a small mark on the center, the stone caught the light from the setting sun and made colors dance on the other side.
The cub picked his treasure up and started running for the forest. His sire and packmates would not understand, but the cub had to see what else this light-stone could do with light.
At the edge of the forest, the cub paused and looked back at the willow tree. He saw the falcon flying over the branches, seemingly looking towards the forest.
I wonder if she can see me…