I half expected the fallen rain, placated with its rest along the ground, docile, still, and unimaginably smooth along the ever-going flat surface, to be solid. That my foot, bare, where my shoes had gone I did not remember, could press upon the surface and I could simply walk forever into the gray distance. The only question that befuddled me as I stood on a single risen mound of lush Earth: in which direction ought I to go?
Though the blank sky went on the same in every direction, and the pristine surface below echoed a perfect and endless reflection, I was exhilarated at the possibility for what I perceived as boundless possibility. What lay in any of these directions that surrounded me I could only imagine, and imagine I did.
To the East, or what I perceived by way of my standing as East, a city full of wonder. What Venice offered, a city built above the shoreless waves, so too rose in exuberance the city in the East. Great pillars of hardened marble sparkled and rose high above the lapping clear waves as homes of a most fanciful design arcing back to many histories and cultures perched atop as a monument of self and family. How the sun shone against bright stone and the finely lain reddened roof tiles.
At each sunrise a bell far in the distance would ring and call the people from their door-less homes and onto the pathways and bridges, smiles grace the people’s faces as the day began anew. This was also the start of a hard day’s work for the men and women as children went off, as a child should, to play, to dream, and of course to mold that most impressionable imagination.
The day would wind on in anticipation of that most tenderized feeling of proper work, of the satiated soul until the bell again resounded over the pleasant seas and far off to the darkening sky, heralding the coming night. The people again took stance upon walkway and alley and bridge and roof and tower to watch their great watchful light silently fall below the water, to sleep, to dream, to leave its smaller cousin alight in darkened night.
Meals were made with a most temperate palate. Nothing to drive one to excess, only to satisfy. And in this, oh how in all things divinity screamed aloud. We are a chosen people, here on the sea under the watchful gaze of our great Sun’s light. Here we live, and when we die, oh how the bright moon shines to guide us out to sea, toward the set Sun, toward our true future. That is the city of the East, the city of life lived, of simplicity and belief. But is it the way to go?
For there is the road before me, my feet already pointing ahead to a possible destination, to the city of North. But no, not just yet. I can smell the North and all of its allure, so I’ll not let it tempt me just yet, thought my eyes long to rest upon the possibility of it, even upon its very direction. No, for now, I’ll peer just over my shoulder, to the land of South, of adventure.
To the South lies the dirt and fire of the venturing people. The boats always at ready with a determined crew of the most interesting assortment. Each new dawn brings herald of news of the newly discovered world. “To mast to ore, to wind and yore” the saying will go! The world awaits every new day. The succulent land with its native fare waiting for conquest. New meals to be made with meats and grains. We sail until we reach land, and then the new day begins upon new soil. At night we dine as if we were newborns, as if every new meal was our first until in a most sweet caress, we fall to sleep beneath the darkened skies.
But at dawn again strikes the drums of brothers, of fathers before. There is still much to be seen here, new caves to dwell, mountains to climb, huts to erect, and lives to begin. The children must learn of this land, of this most wondrous place. For it is we that have grown old this day. We the discoverers. We now leave this new world to our young, for they will one day, soon, rise to the beat of drum and the flap of the great masts as we their fathers and mothers watch them set forth to find a new home for themselves to grow old. For we are the South, rich in history we are as we carry the torches of those before us to hand them over to those that come forever after us. We are the South, and there is adventure just over ever hill.
Perhaps I am not yet ready for the excitement of such a life, though, and perhaps it is the West the beckons me forth from my lush lump of Earth? But to go West, to the most lush of all land, to see the complacent beasts roaming those green rolling hills as the wind sweeps swiftly across the tops of the grown grasses. A sea of endless green, of trees ripe with succulent fruits, of soft dirt beneath our bare feet and selves. Oh the West, there is no need of want for any there, for everything a human could need is always right at your fingers.
To wake alone that fine morning, your friendly beast having shielded you from being too cool in the night. As he goes to find himself his morning’s breakfast, you find yourself in the Red forest. The yellow and brown leaves lap at your waist softly as the near echo of animal calls and wind flow between every length between limbs and trunk. How you go to climb that favorite tree of yours, gripping at its tough bark only to find the very fruit you seek falling upon your head.
To wake up to see those eyes. The first and only eyes you will ever truly see. There are no mirrors here, none but what you can see of yourself in that pair of beautiful eyes. There are no names; there is no need for such paltry things here in the land of wonder and of beauty. All that you have come to love, finally there is one to show it all to. That feeling you had the first time you saw the distant mountains, knowing that the world around you was vast, how you had longed to feel that again. And here, as you pull her from the forest of red and yellow and brown to the endless flowing waves of gentle green wrapping to and fro up and away, finally it is there again. That wonder and amazement. That moment when you feel that part of your chest lend to another, and although it is no longer yours as it always had been, it is for the better. It is finally not alone here in the West.
So finally I fall again for North. Like no other, North will not be ignored, it will not stop until its every temptation teases your every sense so that you cannot help but stop only when you rest yourself beneath the high feet of imagination that is the North, that is the capital of all that has ever been wondered.
Morning does not start with day or with night, it starts whenever you deem it so in the North. But that goes for all here, and at all times there is someone awakening and someone falling dim to the light of this life. This life that never stops.
The morning is an aroma of coffee, of espresso, of bread, eggs, sausage, bacon, of anything that elicits that will to move. There is every temptation here to motivate your every movement. Imagination is fed through a thin box of light, no longer is it necessary to conjure these stories yourself, for time is precious, and there is too much to do here to waste time on imagination.
Here there is no semblance of routine. Each passing fancy is met with the same ferocity. Today I would be an artist, and so I would near strike an ear from my head before the day was done. The next day I would inject the entirety of a fictitious work of prose only to expel it by the evening into the waste receptacle. But I am not stuck within my own confines, heavens no, for there is still a wide world out there. So tomorrow I travel to the great temples of the long dead Kings of the South. The wars they raged still seem to hold a fair stench of old ash upon the remaining stones of ancient temples.
Had my fill? It is acceptable, and the next day I will become someone else, perhaps the lost soul of the East, or the loneliest man of the West. Here I can be anything that the mind or any mind has ever conceived. That is the North with its wild temptations. But the North, that is where you can be anything, and yet nothing at all until the day you expire. That is the North, the world of everything and nothing at all.
So with the future just one step in front of the next first step, I cannot help when I finally extend my foot out to take that first step, but just before I meet bare skin to the solid pathway below there is a ripple, one that tears apart the great placid world around me and I am met by fear. For I know not what the ripple means. What has caused its stir in the still world around or what it means for that first step? I can see now that the road which I might travel is not as I had thought, and I may not yet arrive no matter which direction I choose, for there is something in the cool water. Something that wasn’t there before the rain covered the world around me. Something that I now draw my foot away from, back to the once lush last piece of land in this tired old place.
It is not hidden that even now I long to travel the road. Perhaps tomorrow, yes, I can see the sun will set soon behind gray and the calming covered Earth. Perhaps tomorrow the water will again be smooth and I can make my way far in a direction of my choosing. Yes, perhaps tomorrow the road will be more to my liking.