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Universal Connections - Part One
Green surrounded me on all sides...
Different shades whirling in the thriving plant life that became one of the first homes I can remember. My father’s wide steps took in the earth much quicker than mine as we forced our way through the exotic thicket. He stopped, one tanned hand to his pursed mouth. Slowly he bent down, until he was eye level with me. I looked into his deep eyes and then followed his gaze toward a clearing to the right. There stood the most massive beasts I had ever seen. Their features contorted in rough, gray features as they carelessly ripped leaves from trees with their wrinkled trunks. The young ones danced around their mothers in playful circles while the elders stood intently taking leaves from the tall branches and stuffing them trancelike into their waiting mouths. My father put his arm around my shoulders as we watched and whispered in my ear, “Son, remember what I said about Indian elephants?”
I looked back at him and nodded, not wanting to disturb the herd that could so easily squash us both.
“That little one on the right, standing next to his mom, looks almost old enough to leave the herd. Soon he will have to go start a new life all on his own.”
Abandoning caution I turned, alarmed by this news, back to my father and said, “But, he is so small compared to the older ones. How’s he gonna protect himself?”
“That’s something he’s going to have to learn for himself, Beck. Just like you will when you grow up. Don’t worry though, you aren’t leaving my side for a long time.”
He smiled and ran his hand through my hair. Straightening up slowly he lifted the heavy camera hanging from his neck and snapped a couple pictures of the munching herd. Then, he took my hand and led me back through the encompassing greenery back to the edge of the forest where a small, weather-beaten shack stood welcoming us home. Leaving my muddy boots by the door next to his, I followed my father into the darkening space while he lit the old stove looming in the corner. I yawned and settled down in the old easy chair by the fire as I watched my father cook dinner.
We sat at our rickety table and ate a modest meal in near silence; only the distant cries of monkeys and birds singing through the cracks in the old wooden walls. While my father cleared the plates, I crawled into the depths of my small bed and waited for him to say goodnight. He strode in, enveloping the space in no time at all and sat on the edge of the bed, making it creak. He leaned forward and kissed my forehead, then stood and flicked off the light saying, “Sleep well Becket, and have good dreams.”
With that parting message ringing in my ears, I drifted off into a green dreamland filled with creatures large and small…
With hands of sand
A sparkling, current of sand drew outlines in the parched earth all around her. She loved the dispersion of particles beneath her immense, padded feet. Every step she took reverberated against the dancing grains and she dwelled in each stride to catch the tinkling sound they made. This was her home. This hot, unpredictable expanse of earth lay before her in a state of continual change. Everyday held new encounters and visits from creatures small and large. She didn’t fear the earth or its inhabitants. Her strides enveloped any and all creatures and she lived at peace within her world.
As the sun beat down on her broad back, she turned and sought the rough hide of her kin. Her trunk rested on flank of her son and she felt comforted in their closeness. She felt as though they were separate from the herd. They walked together, toward the watering hole at the end of the sandy plains. Though male, he was still smaller than her in his young years. His ivory tusks just beginning to bud at the base of his trunk. Their steps rang out in the smoldering air as they travelled forward. She knew this would be a transition unlike any she had experienced before. Still she continued on with a heavy heart and her child at her side.
As they drew close, green living things began to appear; creeping nearer on either side of the path. Eventually, all around them, thick plants shrouded them from the beating rays above. Sullen and reluctant, she led the way to the edge of the water. Other animals were crowded around the rippling, glassy surface speaking in different and tangled voices. Their calls travelled over the water and intertwined in a wild song. Colorful birds flew overhead and predators lazed among grazing herbivores.
The elephant advanced into the shimmering water and heard energetic splashing behind her. Everyone in the herd lowered their trunks into the clear depths and lifted out their fill. They bathed and felt the refreshing coolness cleanse their rough hides. As the children splashed about, they tooted and scoffed speaking a language of their own.
She wished they could remain in this moment forever, but knew the moment of judgment was coming. Her son would soon have to face the world on his own. She would no longer be able to guide him through the forest or the desert. Her sadness felt like a boulder inside her chest. He looked so happy and stable, but she couldn’t truly know his inner turmoil. He was just a child, never having encountered the harshness the world had to offer. How could she leave him unprotected and unprepared in this strange and unforgiving place? She looked around at the animals in her midst. She wondered if they felt the same unyielding tension she was experiencing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t her decision to make. Nature has a plan for the instinctual growth of her creatures. One day, we all must leave our mother’s side.
She watched him walk off into the growing darkness. The sound of his footsteps grew fainter and her sadness and apprehension lingered, seeming to congregate in her heart. In a final farewell, she raised her trunk and trumpeted a mournful plea to her only son.