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Two Strangers in Passing

It was a fall day, absolutely dull, save for the sharp hues of the leaves and a slight biting wind. A lone figure trembled as he slid down the sidewalk, his hands shoved deep within the kangaroo pouch of his too-thin jacket. Leaves crunched helplessly under his meticulously polished boots as he moved slowly but surely towards some unseen destination. He turned his head to one side and coughed naught but steam.Another stupid boring day, he thought. Pointless and without features worth remembering, almost as if he had lived this day a thousand times before. He knew exactly where he came from, and he knew exactly where he was headed. This street was as familiar to him as the disaffected stares of his peers. Same old stupid weather, too, right down to the freezing ache that never goes away no matter how much hot chocolate you fill yourself with.

He had just finished school for the day. Same old stupid school. The same monotonous stream of consciousness. How he wished, how he hoped that something would happen to him. He didn't much care what, as long as it was different.

He had the day off from work. This pleased him to no end, as he could now go home and give the precious hours of his life to a multitude of novel pursuits. He could watch the television. He could listen to the CDs that, in his opinion, were thousands of times greater than the voices of the people around him. He could even go see his friends. Same old stupid friends.

As he crested the hill, the chill in the air somehow sharpened. The wind didn't get stronger, nor did the temperature change, but there was a very tangible feeling that something was different, and he felt a little colder and vulnerable than before. He was driven even farther into his prized jacket, the one with the logo of the team that he was proud of, even though they almost always lost. Hands retracted into sleeves. He pulled the collar up so high that he almost disappeared. He wanted to disappear. He wanted to be cold dust in the freezing wind.

While he skittered down the hill, his choice in footwear failing him somewhat, he sighted another sorry creature entering into this valley of suburbia. She too wore her jacket as a shell. He tried not to look at her. It was painful. As they passed, each on the opposite side of the road, it started.

Where the sky was once a sterile frozen blue, clouds poured in. From the North, East, West, and South they came. Some even seemed to have come down from great heights. It might even be possible to contend that clouds came from below and from within as well, but it all occurred too quickly for careful observation. Same old stupid life? Now here's something!

Then came the hail.
Then came the wind.

All of a sudden, jackets weren't nearly enough. They were paper-thin now. Every gust of wind and every hailstone hit them as if they were wearing nothing at all. Hurting them as if they were as naked physically as they were emotionally. He looked up. His full-force hurricane was merely the size of a few city blocks. He felt so cold, and so alone, and so hurt by the raging forces of nature. Unthinkingly, unconsciously, he reached out. He slowly turned about, fighting the gale all the way.

And there she was. Looking right into his eyes. She had twisted herself against the current in the same way he did. It was unclear just how long she had been standing like that, but he could tell that she had been there longer than he had. His emotional armor had taken longer to be destroyed by the burning rain, but it was useless just the same. They came back to reality with a start, in the imperfect way that perfect things happen.

In one surprisingly powerful motion, they ran across the street and embraced. It was perhaps the single most wonderful moment in their lives up to that point. They stood there in the middle of the empty street, two very small creatures against the cruel wind. It surrounded them, but it did not permeate them. There was no storm between their arms, nor was there a storm inside of them. So they stood there and warmed each other, for they had both been cold for far too long. The rain and hail and wind still hurt, but it didn't matter. They were an unwavering, singular being then, undaunted by the chaos around them.

In each other, they had found refuge from the storm.

Start Again


"What exactly was it that convinced you?"

Two people stand at the midpoint of a bridge. They speak for a moment and then come to a realization. They cannot remember which way they were travelling on the bridge. They know that they came towards each other and had been travelling in different directions. Now they have a choice. There are four possibilities. They can go off together or alone in a direction of their chosing.

They decided to build a fire
For they could not choose

And so they sat there, at the center of the bridge, warming themselves by the fire. They talked and they found they had much in common. There were things they could learn from each other. There were things they could teach each other. Because they had time, and because they were trying to avoid making a decision about which way to cross the bridge, they were willing to listen. They heard the words that were spoken and they spoke the truth. The truth in their words made the decision come easier. They would go off in different directions and never speak again. Too much was given and they had opened themselves too cleanly. At the center of the bridge, nothing could hurt them, but once they crossed the bridge, things would change. They knew this and accepted it.

"Take it slow.
I can't let you go quite yet.
We still have time.
Soon everything will change."

A moment in time, captured out of the realm and beyond anyone's capacity to overstrike. There would later be denials. They stepped outside the roles they played in the lives they knew, but here, at the center of the bridge, they could be themselves. This was the place where dreams begin. This was the place where the soul ascended, for a brief time, before the cold streets and the empty faces convinced them to return to the roles that were so familiar.

"I must not forget how to wear this mask."

The fear of revealing the true self is not a misplaced fear. To do so requires great strength and confidence. Peeling away layers of fabric towards exposing the deeper, true nudity of the soul, can leave one feeling barren and defenseless. Within each layer, revealed carefully to a select few, lies another layer. Darkness and light entwine and the deeper we go, the harder it is to discern the difference. The deeper the wound, the more delicate the element, the less control we have over emotional responses. If we prick you, then you will bleed, but not all bleeding is visible to the naked eye.

Two travellers meet on a bridge.
They shake hands, nod pleasantries, and then continue on their way.
This is the way of things.


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