An hour before departure, I stood gazing up at that monumental ship—that grand silver tower—knowing it would deliver me to new worlds…faraway lands…beyond old borders…
This voyage of exploration would expand my mind, my perspective in ways I couldn’t conceive. Oh, I felt such joy. The joy of the naïve child.
But then, as I lifted my foot to take a ceremonial first step onto the walkway…
…a flash of light shocked my eyes. Stunned, I stepped back.
An angel stood before me, its glowing white form defined by lines of turquoise blue. The halo hummed with gold light. Such strange energy!—the power of a stone monolith emanated from what appeared so ethereal.
Its blue eyes gazed down upon me with a kindness I could feel through my whole being. I was helpless–awed and confused.
“Before you take that step, I will warn you of the hardship to be endured on this trip,” the angel said in a voice both stern and empathic.
“You’ll travel through hazards and calamities beyond imagining. Spiraling storms will spin your mind into states of wild uncontrollable vertigo.
“Without the anchor of the old familiar, you’ll feel adrift, untethered. Your own face will appear strange to you. The home you wanted to escape will seem like a paradise lost.
“However, when you finally do return, old comforts won’t give much comfort. Everything will seem so alien. Worse yet: you’ll carry the suffering of your dark journey with you wherever you go, whatever you do.
“Only a long painful process of catharsis will heal your pain. Hard work that, in truth, will never really be complete.
“So…you still want to board this ship?” the angel asked in conclusion.
I felt weak with disappointment. I’d imagined a happy adventure. This voyage was supposed to launch me into a glorious new life.
Well, if I stayed behind, I could take the initiative and create that glorious life on my own. Instead of being pushed by circumstances beyond my control, I’d take control of my life and push myself.
I wanted to love that idea. But it left me feeling cowardly. Mediocre.
I realized I still wanted to board that ship. Staying behind was a wish of the mind; going ahead was a desire of the spirit. Yes–I actually wanted hardship. I wanted to go through hell and come out the other side and then put myself back together again.
Yes, I’d be pushed by outside forces beyond my control. But I’d have to use great self-control in order to deal with those forces. I’d have to push myself beyond instinctive terror.
“I’m getting on board, angel,” I said. “No matter how much pain this voyage brings, the worse pain would be the regret of having stopped because of fear.
“But before I take that step, I’d like to thank you…
“You gave me the chance to choose in full awareness of the consequences. Now, when the ride gets a little bumpy, I won’t bemoan my decision. Braced for the worst, I’ll do a better job of coping.
“Yes, life will seem painfully strange, both before and after. But with that shift, I’ll see the world and my own self anew. I’m not just exploring unknown lands, I’m exploring myself…exploring this human life.
“Later, if I can express just one iota of what I learn, I might help humankind.”
With that declaration, I again felt joy—the joy of the trailblazing knight. I finally took that step forward.
In a flash, the angel vanished. As my eyes adjusted to the sudden absence of light, a subtle misty energy lightly dusted my arms and face. Then nothing. The way lay clear ahead.
Had I hallucinated an angel? I didn’t know…
…but I could still feel that infusion of loving kindness. A blessing–that feeling became a stone to hold during my wild wonderful horrific journey.
© 2019, Michael R. Patton
40 New Fables: an ebook