waves

There is a light off the coast that burns the dull orange of spoiling fruit left too long in the sun.  Pilgrims journey to the shore to admire and ponder the discordant ebbs and flows against the soothing waves.  If its origin was ever known, that knowledge has been so long forgotten the elders no longer attempt to sing their guesses to the next generation.  There is no lore.  There is no reason.  There is only the pulsing light.  And the waves come in and go out.

The gathered squinting eyes cast hopeful glances to the horizon, while the water laps against bare ankles and soaks tattered clothes.   Hope for meaning.  Hope for continuance.  They cling to one another as the light crawls on their skin and their feet go numb in the cold ocean water.  And the waves come in and go out.

A haphazard hierarchy arranges the pilgrims based on age and bravery.  The youngest are lifted above the foamy spray of the breakers in the arms of their parents.  The elders stand so only half their feet taste the blue brine.  The middle generations let the waves wash away the sweat of their tiring lives.  And those between youth and adults dare each other to travel further and further towards the light.

Far beyond where their treading feet can touch bottom, far beyond where the rip and pull of the tides tugs at their every stroke, and far beyond where sanity would dictate they stop, they finally stop, gasping for air, and still no closer to their prize.  The light sits beyond reach and reason.  Turning back, they don’t all always make it to the safety of shore.

Yet, time after time, the pilgrims return.  It is the draw of the unknown that calls to them in their sleep.  It is the miracle of something outside knowledge that directs them to the beach.  It is the wonder of life and existence beyond their understanding and considerable reach that pulls them into the tide.  It is proof of something greater than them and it gives them something to strive for.  And the waves come in and go out.

However, most don’t think that deeply about it or they would realize that in traveling to gaze upon the light burning off the coast they are wasting time that could be better spent focusing on the pursuits of their own lives.  And the waves come in and go out.

What do you see when you look around?

He sat on top of the world, dangling his legs over the edge, and surveyed the green lands far below that stretched to the horizon.  Though he felt no fear with his feet hung thousands of feet above the precipice, his pulse quickened all the same because his mind raced with the future possibilities the land represented.  He could lumber it.  He could till it.  He could graze it.  The healthy hue meant water and fertile soil and, with some willing hard work, a good life in the sun.  He laughed with delight, stretching his hands to the warming sun, while letting the air swirl around his kicking legs.

…..

He sat on top of a boulder, dangling his legs over the edge, and looked across the grass that stretched to the edge of the park.  Though he felt no fear with his feet mere inches above the ground, his pulse quickened all the same because his mind raced with the possibilities the park represented.  He could run it.  He could swing it.  He could slide it.  The lush hue meant healthy patches and soft soil and, with a spark of imagination, a good time in the sun.  He laughed with delight, stretching his hands to the warming sun, while letting the air swirl around his kicking legs.

…..

He stood next to a cornerstone, his tired legs bent at the knees, and looked across his property that stretched further than he could see.  Though he felt no fear with his feet solidly on the ground, his pulse quickened all the same with the memory of a good life given to the land.  He had worked it.  He had cared for it.  He had bled and sweat and cried into it.  The homestead was well run and self-sustaining, with a few key contributions here and there, and had grown beyond his control.  He laughed with delight, stretching his hands to the warming sun, while letting the air swirl around his aching legs.

in their multitude

I step into the wind swept darkness, a hint of winter chill sampling my skin, and my steps hasten to carry me to the relative comfort of my truck and the heated morning commute.  My quickened footfalls echo in the alley; bouncing between walls and homes, speeding away from me in mimicry of my pace and returning slowly from the shadows.  The breeze has swept the air clean and the street lamps cast perfect halos, unblemished by fog or dust, to light my journey and destination, but there is more light than there should be.

My gaze is drawn to the heavens and there are so many stars…

So many stars.

Image Credit: John’s Consciousness: http://jjhiii24.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/the-fault-in-our-stars/

They send me messages of encouragement coded in winks and blinks.  They shower me in cleansing graces of the past.  They call out, each and every one of them, for my attention, demanding that I heed their warnings, take their advice, and rise to their expectations for my future.  And I find that I am overwhelmed in the glow of countless suns, with countless more spiraling planets hurtling unseen, in the space between where my feet falter to a stop and the infinite possibilities the stars imply.

This is but one reality.  This is but one truth.  This is but one planet, spinning around one sun, in a sea of life that cannot be fathomed and understood in its entirety.  There is too much to comprehend on the walk to my truck on a cold, dark, morning.  My thoughts crumble and scatter under the pressure of the beautiful unknowns and, while I flail in a vain attempt to maintain control, I only manage to keep one conscious observation as I renew my trek.

My feet carry me forward again, to one future, under so many stars…

So many stars.

Prompt: Finish the Story (#2)

First, thank you to everyone who participated last week.  If you haven’t read the entries yet, check out these posts:

Jamie
Judah First and another submission
JED
mine

And these submissions from the comments section:

Juliette Kings
Jaded
Zoe
ES

And, second, the new prompt is below.

I’m toying with the idea of making this into a weekly thing.  I’ll post a new prompt every Tuesday and then post my own response at some point before the end of the week.  I guess we’ll see how it goes.

If you want to play along, leave your ending to the story either in the comments or write a post on your own site and link to this one so I can find it.  Happy writing.

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Headlights bounced off another green sign, another discarded path on the journey of your life, momentarily brightening the predawn darkness before the weight of the black morning came crushing down upon you again.  You acknowledged the exit, as you had the rest, noticed it, confirmed the words weren’t the ones you were looking for, and then your eyes switched back to the road and your thoughts moved to more pressing matters.  Where was your exit?  Would you recognize it?  Would you miss it and slip into the night forever?

The edge of your soft headlights caught the dull yellow line running down the certain of the freeway.  It was the only constant in your life.  And then it broke out into dashes and your realized there was nothing constant in your life.  Your heart skipped a beat.  Your eyes flew wide with fear and joy.  And then the solid was back and your norm returned.

The miles slipped beneath your tires and the hum of their passage was a lullaby calling you back to sleep.  It was inviting, but your bed was too far in your past to return to, and the dreams that had accompanied your sleep recently were the kind you could do without.  Names shouted in anger and pain.  The red of gore splashed against white walls.  The dangerous crossings of what had been and what could have been.

No, shaking your head to ward of the partial memories, to not let your thoughts dwell on discerning the truth, you focus again on the pavement coming into view just ahead of those two tiny beams of light.  Your future is out there in the darkness, waiting to be found, just beyond the arc of your headlights.  Another green sign comes into view…

a view into the past

Snow
Image Credit: Kadri Sammel

“What do you see?”

Cindy’s mom offered her a photo as the two sat next to each other over breakfast on a lovely summer morning.  The daughter was prepared for the game and eagerly grasp the photo to see what gem from the old world she was going to get to see.

The contrast between her summer heat and the cold and snow in the picture was the first thing to jump out at her, but Cindy quickly discarded the idea of responding about that.  With her mom there was always something deeper to look for, some lesson to be learned.  The next thing that caught her attention was the dangerousness of driving automobiles in such conditions and how foolish they had been as a species at that time.  But, they had already discussed pride on a different morning and Cindy suspected that the risks humans used to take was closely aligned to their pride.

That was probably the trick with this photo, Cindy thought.  Her mom wanted was testing her to see if she would jump to mention the cars and the slick and icy roads or if she would delve further and see what else was going on.  And then she spotted something so ridiculous she blurted it out, slapping her hand across her mouth immediately after, but too late, of course, to keep the words from reaching her mother.

“Are those snowflakes attached to that light pole?”

Ignoring her daughter’s embarrasement for having spoken without thinking it through, Cindy’s mom urged her to continue on that train of thought, “And why is that so surprising?”

Removing her hand from her mouth, Cindy returned her attention the picture.  She realized she had lucked into the the right answer and she needed to study the photograph to determine what exactly about the snowflakes had drawn her attention.  “Why would they hang snowflakes like that in a place that gets covered with snow and ice every winter already?  It’s not like they need a reminder of what they look like.  From the histories we’ve studied it sure seems like living in those conditions was a lot of work.  Placing the snowflakes there feels like a slap in the face.”

Cindy glanced into her mother’s face and saw approval there.  She had done well and allowed herself a smile.  But, the smile dropped to a frown as her curiosity forced her to ask, “So, why would the old generations have done that?”

“The snowflakes were part of the decorations that went with the holiday known as Christmas, and for our purposes today they represent the truth that over time all pageantry and traditions will trend toward the absurd.  As the people who first began to honor something with a celebration die off, the original ideas behind the why, behind the need of that celebration will distort as their children take over, and on and on until eventually people find themselves doing things that no longer make sense, or are offensive, or are ridiculous, simply because ‘it is tradition.'”

Cindy nodded as she processed her mom’s response and then asked, “Is that why we no longer have holidays of any kind?”

“That’s one of the reasons, yes.  This picture was taken in a time of excess, near the height of humans reign and power on this planet.  As the years grew harder and we diminished, we had to work harder to survive until we no longer had time for such silliness.”

“Will we ever return to a time of excess?”

“Everything is cyclical.  What we had once, we will have again.  But, with all that we now know about the world, would you really want to return to a time like that?  Would you really want to live in a world that behaved so poorly?”

Cindy studied the picture one last time.  “No,” she responded firmly and then handed it back to her mom to file away with the rest of the photographs.

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What do you see?

Write it, link it to this week’s Once More With Feeling challenge, and then post it so we can all read your thoughts and ideas inspired by the photograph provided.