Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Up The Mountain With Friends

A gurgling river, sparkling like silver, rushes underneath the bridge. The mountain is lush and green, and a path has been cut through it, extending into heaven and perhaps beyond. The same road, a few hours into the future, can be seen in the distance, wrapping itself around the mountain in a fond embrace.

Seven children stand at the beginning of the road, with heavy bags on their shoulders and warm cloaks over their bodies. One lad, who has been this way before, stands in front of the rest and talks of the adventures which lie ahead of them. A few chocolates come out of a hidden pocket, and he offers these to the rest. Only the girl with curly black hair refuses to accept the treat. Another girl promises to eat her chocolate soon; the others swallow theirs eagerly.

They begin their trip, with smiles in their eyes and songs on their lips - songs set to the beat of their hearts. The climb is steep and soon their tongues are dry. The two lads who trail the group are filled with doubt. What lies ahead? Exactly how much adventure can we have, so that it can be termed an adequate amount?

One of these lads, bespectacled and slim, trails the group with a book in hand. He carries it as a jewel, afraid of losing it, and within it, his thoughts. The curly-haired girl and a boy with a cap too large for his head walk in front of him. The boy plods through the path, stumbling across small streams and rocks, shouting out to the people who walk ahead of him. He is in the mood for an adventure, and he is letting everyone know.

Suddenly he sees an elf. The elf crawls over the rocks, and jumps across streams - which appear to him as almighty rivers. This amuses the children, who stop to catch a glimpse of the violet mountains. The sun is overhead, throwing its golden rays at large blue butterflies. Blue wings flutter vigorously in the cool misty air, and carry their dainty bodies easily across the rocks.

The mountain now looks like a game: it resembles a puzzle, but no one quite knows what the puzzle is about.

"This is a land where people only walk up the hill, and no one goes back," cries the lad with the oversized cap.
"It is so beautiful!" says the elf from atop a high rock.

The girl who promised to take her chocolate soon looks pensive; perhaps she feels left out? She stares into the kaleidoscopic abyss. The tall lad, wrapped in an earthy shawl, stands away from the rest of the group, seeking silence in the mountain's intrinsic sounds. The boy wearing glasses scribbles furiously in his notebook, but he doesn't know what he writes.

They walk along the edge of the mountain, but the children are not afraid. It is because they don't look down. They don't fear that which may not exist. At every turn, a path opens up in front of them. They rush eagerly to the edge of the mountain, and just when they are about to reach the corner, the path bends and escapes their clutches. The mountain changes hue and voice - first it is violet, then orange, suddenly blue and finally red.

The air thins. The leader of the group stops to rest. He seems to know the path well. He stares animatedly at the most inane objects. There is so much to see! Everything is vivid, vibrant and tangible. Even the air appears in a cool blue tinge. But when they stop to meditate upon what they see, the children realize that they do not see anything in particular.

By focussing upon any one object in their fields of vision, they lose sight of everything else, and therefore lose the moment.

"The moment is part of the picture," cry one of the boys. "You cannot take a picture of this even a moment from now. It has to be now. Or it never will be."

This puts everybody in a deeply contemplative mood. A few faces look sad. The boy who trails continues to write: "What am I if I cannot document?" he writes. He realizes that his scribbling disturbs him, but he cannot help himself. He is trapped by his own enterprise.

The air is thin now, and shrubs gave way to grey stone. The mountain has turned hostile. "We must not rest now; it will soon be dark!" says the leader.

"Do not cease to climb until the slope levels," says one of the girls.
"If I climb this hill alone and no one sees me climb, do I really climb it? What proof do I have that I have climbed it?"

The children are going mad. It is becoming cold; the sun fades in the west behind grey hills which are tinged with orange. The climb is nearly over, or so they have been told.

"There is a hot spring at the end of all this," says the boy in the shawl to the elf.
"Is there really?"