It had been years since we saw the mirror men, since, the tavern, since Bella.
It had been many years since Sam.
Now, sitting on a ledge with Abe somewhere in the middle of this mountain, watching the sunrise, I was weary with so many doubts about this whole “quest”. Where was all of this leading to?
Abe sensed my thoughts. “You can ask me, David. You can ask me anything.”
“Do you believe in destiny, Abe?”
“What do you mean by destiny?” He asked back.
“That everyone has a fixed ending. That somehow our lives will play out the way they’re meant to play out.”
The sun continued its ascent, little by little rising more and more.
Abe put his arm on my head and ruffled my hair, “I really like it that you ask so many questions. People are always asking, ‘What does the end look like? How is it going to come about? What is my destiny? They want to know the end because they want some assurance. As if knowing was really assuring. We want to know is the end fixed or is it fluid? Are we really living or are we just programs dying?”
I was getting more confused. “What’s the answer? What do you believe?”
Abe looked at me, “Let me tell you what I believe. I believe in love. I believe that of all the laws and forces that be, there is true love that embraces all. And…”
I cut him off. “What is true love?”
“Haven’t you learned anything from our quest??” He seemed slightly irritated. “Love is not a ‘what’. It isn’t some-thing but some-one. You should know this.
“Apparently I don’t.”
Abe’s gentleness returned, “David, you’re not like most people. Don’t think like them. Most everyone searches for true love all their lives, yet most miss it. They miss it because they’re looking at stones and metals, woods and fabrics, colors and shades, boxes and crates, and hugs and kisses, and entitlements, and sentimentalities. They’re looing at roles and positions, and haves and have nots. Most of all they’re looking at mirrors.”
“Mirrors? Like the mirror people?”
“Yes, like the mirror people. A mirror shows a rich man but covers the needy. A mirror shows a bad mother but hides the dying child. A mirror shows a righteous priest but is in the way of a dying flock. A mirror shows a beautiful face but blinds from the beauty of others. What you see, who you see, is everything.”
Now I was incredibly confused.
“You never give me a straight answer, Abe. You still haven’t answered my question on destiny. I still don’t know what true love means. I still don’t have a clue!”
Abe laughed. “Believe it or not I am answering you. Besides, you don’t really need answers. People don’t really need answers. They need reasons. Most of what we need to know we already know.
Wake with light, sleep with the night. Sow in season and reap. Honor your father and mother, love your neighbor, and your enemies. Do not steal. Do not covet. Do not kill, not even in your heart. Do this, do that. It’s all there. Yet you don’t always do what you’re supposed to do you?”
“I can’t say that I do.” I answered embarrassed.
“There you go. You don’t need an answer. I’m giving you something more powerful. I’m giving you a reason.”
“So what’s my reason?” I asked, hoping to get a clear answer.
He looked at me and said, “It’s your reason. You tell me.”
Puzzled, I asked, “I thought you said you were giving me a reason.”
“Yes, ‘A’ reason, not your reason. I’m giving you my reason.”
“Ok…” I was back to my confusion.
Abe slowed down. “David, remember when I first called you? Remember that night you woke up?”
“Yes. You asked me if I wanted to join your quest.”
“Why did you accept?”
“I got excited. You made it look so nice. I was young and didn’t know much. I didn’t know any better.”
Abe smiled, “You mean you wouldn’t have come if you knew what you know now?”
My eyes fell to my feet. “Maybe. It’s been so very hard. I’m alone now. I miss all the things I never used to miss. Most of all, I miss Sam. She was my best friend.”
“You miss her more than Bella and her roses?”
“I guess I miss her too. But I really miss Sam. She had the happiest eyes I know. She was so sweet, and kind, and generous. She was so beautiful.”
“You loved her.”
“Yes. Now I know I did.”
“There’s your answer in a glimpse, and there’s your reason in a glimpse. Let me show you something”
Abe stood up and motioned me to follow him.
We went up a little higher in the mountain and he pointed out at the view, “Look at the land bellow. What do you see?”
“I see a desert.”
“Do you see the tavern?” Abe asked.
“Yes. It looks like its on a dry river bed.”
“Do you see the city?”
“Yes. It’s dry too. Everything looks dry.
“That’s because it is dry. This world is dry. Come with me.” Abe was on the move again; this time stepping up a ledge I had difficulty scrambling over as I was much smaller than his 18 feet.
When I finally pulled myself up, I had found that Abe had jumped down to the other side, and was swimming in a large and beautiful pool of all shades of blue. The pool was in the middle of veins of dry river beds. It looked like a blue octopus head in the middle of numerous tentacles.
“Dive in! The water is amazing!” Abe called out.
I stayed where I stood. What was a step down for Abe was a cliff to me.
Abe called again, “What are you waiting for? Dive in. The water’s amazing! Just jump!”
“Easy for you to say. You don’t have to jump off a cliff!” I shouted back.
Abe laughed, “What happened to that brave boy who thought he was a lion?”
I grumbled to myself, “I’m really starting to hate this!”
I stepped back some steps, far enough to get a running start. The pool was way below the ledge I was on, and few feet away from the bottom of the cliff. I needed to get as much momentum as I could.
I took a deep breath, “You can do this, David. You can do this.” And with a shout, I took off and ran towards the edge of the cliff.
This was it. I was taking a leap of faith.
I don’t really remember what it was, but my foot hit something, maybe a rock, maybe a branch, whatever it was, I tripped landed on my right shoulder, and fell off the cliff. I felt sharp rocks cut into my skin. I felt branches breaking under my weight. My head was whipped to different angles, I heard a bone break, and felt it too. The tumbling ended with a loud thud on the ground, just a few feet away from the pool.
I remember feeling nothing at first. Then I remember feeling pain, so much pain that I could no longer identify where it was coming from. I was lying on my chest and I couldn’t feel my legs.
Somehow I was able to look up. I could see the beautiful sparkling pool ahead in the short distance. Something inside me really wanted to make it to the water.
I tried to lift my body off the ground, but was reminded of the bone I had broken. Now I knew it was my right forearm. I fell back to the ground hurting and frustrated. I looked back at the pool, and this pristine sight was blurred with tears.
I felt my failure, and the pain it caused me. I knew I was dying and the events of my life started flashing. I remembered Sam, her bloody dead body. I remembered the vagabond who did not stay, the child who grew to soon, the mirror people, the rich man with the gold specs with the poor man with borrowed specs. I remembered the beauty queens and the gladiators, the giants and the flyers, the criers as well, and the mirror people. I remembered Bella and her dying roses, and her company of whores and men with asses uncovered at the tavern. I remembered the people of the city, too busy working and enjoying to stop and consider meaning. I thought about my family. I wondered how they were and what they would think if they saw me now.
Most of all I thought about me. How after all this time, after all I had gone through, all the pain absorbed has only led to more pain and more frustration.
Now, to find myself dying three feet away from the promise of the pool.
I started to weep, and with my good hand I punched the dirt.
“Abe! Abe! Abe!”
What is this?!!!
This was all your idea! You said this was going to be worth it. You lied! You lied to me!” I cried and kept crying, my tears mixing with the soil on my face covered my eyes like patches.
I lay there weeping to myself, angry at Abe, and angry at myself for listening to him.
“What was I thinking”, I thought to myself. “Boys shouldn’t be jumping off cliffs or fighting giants. Boys shouldn’t be opening their hearts or embracing naked people. Boys, the smart boys don’t leave comfort and security to follow an old man to who knows where. Smart boys don’t end up here.”
Then I felt his hands on me. He lifted me a little and turned me from the ground. His strong arms cradled me like a babe.
“My brave man. You are a lion, a hero, and you are strong. Come my child, my friend. “
They were strange words to tell a dying boy who had just fallen off a cliff, but I had no strength in me. I had no strength to argue.
Abe capably carried an almost lifeless me in his arms and walked towards the pool.
I heard his feet break the surface of the water as he stepped in. Slowly he waded towards the deep end and I felt the water rise. As we stepped forward, as we immersed deeper, the water level rose, and rose, and overflowed into the riverbeds forming thicker and thicker streams. Abe brought me deeper, and the waters overflowed even more.
The water rose above me, enveloping me completely. Looking back, I should have drowned.
But I didn’t.
I had not immersed in water. I was immersed in a pool of life.
My eyes opened and I looked at Abe. He looked completely radiant, his face burned like a blue flame, but I recognized him. He smiled at me and lifted me to an embrace. There was no more pain from the wounds and broken bones. There were no more wounds. There were no more broken bones. I forgot about my angry thoughts just expressed a few minutes earlier.
I was lost in wonder.
Time stopped in that embrace. I closed my eyes and buried myself in his chest.
“Look David.” Abe instructed. “Look at what we’ve done.”
I turned my head and saw that we were back at the ledge overlooking the country. But the country was different. It was completely transformed. Before me now lay a garden watered by the overflowing tentacles of the pool, running down the mountain, into great rushing rivers.
“What happened?” I asked him.
“We happened.” He told me. We happened to the country. We happened to people’s lives.
“I don’t remember doing anything.” I honestly told Abe.
Abe just laughed. I knew that it was all Abe, and I was thankful to even be a witness.
Where there was death now teemed life. The tavern was gone, probably washed away by the river. The windmills of the city were turning once more. Where the tavern stood grew an amazingly large rose bush with women and children enjoying the sweet fragrance it emitted.
And on ledge on top of the rose bush was Bella. She was giving orders to her daughters and adopted daughters as they prepared baskets of roses to deliver.
We should have been too far to see each other, but I saw her, and somehow she looked at my direction and mouthed a thank you.
Abe punched my shoulder lightly and called me a heart breaker, and we laughed and laughed together.
Than he pointed to the distance, to the hill where we buried Sam. It was now a thick fountain of golden honey surrounded by a rainbow of flowers of most exquisite form. Everywhere its honey flowed, everything it touched bloomed with color.
I felt so much peace.
“I love you Sam.” I spoke to the wind, not knowing if she would hear. “I miss your eyes. You’re the most beautiful girl in the world.
But I have to go. Goodbye.”
I finally said, and it was final – so I thought.
So many things seem final until they’re not.
Then I heard Abe’s voice, his most assuring voice begin to speak, “Do you know what I believe?” He asked again and I heard him repeat, “Let me tell you what I believe. I believe in love. I believe that of all the laws and forces that be, there is true love that embraces all.”
This time I didn’t cut him off.
“And I believe in you. I told you I was going to give you a reason, and that reason was my reason, my reason is you.”
Then it all made sense to me. Destiny, where I’m supposed to be, isn’t a place on a map or a moment in time, it is everywhere, anytime with the one you love.
I can’t say I completely understood, it was too wonderful for me, but I cherished it all in my heart. How did I get here? I felt so lost. Why do I feel so alive? Wasn’t I dying? Everything was too amazing to comprehend.
“Are you ready?” Abe’s voice interrupted my thoughts.
“Ready for what?”
“Ready for our quest of course!”
“I thought this was it?” here I was confused again.
“My brave man, you have only seen a star among stars in a galaxy among galaxies. There’s so much more wonderful things waiting to be discovered.
Are your ready?”
I looked at Abe, “Yes, I am.”
“Great! Now follow me.” With those words, Abe stepped off the ledge of the mountain and walked on the sky as if there was some floor no one else could see.
He turned back to me when he saw that I didn’t follow him.
“What are you waiting for? Come on.”
I looked at this most fascinating guide standing on invisible ground. He was holding out his hand to me.
“Let’s go David.”
I smirked, “Easy for you to say to say, you have made clouds the dust of your feet.”
Then I stepped off anyway. I had found my blue sky.