“It cannot be true,” the boy said, holding the frog.
Everywhere he looked snakes were shedding skin. “How could this be? A moment ago, life, and now . . . nothing.” Two puncture wounds oozed purple from above the frog’s eyes. The pearlescent poison ran over the boy’s fingers as he laid his friend down, covering him with dirt at the water’s edge.
The snakes progressed; they were knotting their old skin.
“Yesterday,” the boy said to the snakes, “you were all my friends. Now, you take away my only family?” They looked at him as they always did—with indifference. “My parents trusted you. Now they are gone—and you betray. Why?”
The boy buried his face in his hands, remembering his father’s last words, “Trust, son, that everything is always right. If you are in pain, know it is for reasons far beyond your understanding, even if you can mark the origin of that pain.”
The boy struggled with the wisdom and saw only black; his family was gone and now, his best friend. His father once said that everything is connected. That our world is not as it seems. That everyone sees life through different eyes and that no one is ever wrong. That the only truth out there is that which you find inside of yourself. That you shouldn’t try and change anyone—only the way you look upon those you wish would change.
There, on the riverbank, eyes closed, the boy felt into his father’s voice. His mind understood but his heart was broken light; shards fallen and scuffed by scales slithering coldly across dying heat.
“I do not believe this is real,” he muttered. “What am I to do now? Where am I to go?”
A snake brushed his leg. Then, another until he was surrounded. The boy opened his eyes and furled his brow in anger, “What!” he shouted at the countless heads all pointing to him, tongues flicking the air. The snakes parted before him, revealing their creation. The boy stood up rightly, hearing music; they had tied their skin in knots to make ropes, which they braided into cables and a bridge across the river. They nudged him to walk, which he did, stopping half-way to peer at the water moving swiftly beneath him.
He saw his reflection and sullen eyes on one ripple—only to witness it disappear and form a smile on the next. Then anger revealed itself on a wave but dissolved into wonder. Then doubt through confusion to confidence and ecstasy. He saw all emotions ever felt and the faces of ones not yet expressed. Boundaries vanished and separateness ceased. What was isolated became that of everything. Time, was no more—just fluid pulses…breathing…the moment, one.
Across the bridge waited frogs he had not seen while fitting his earlier despair. Some hopped to meet him before he stepped to land. They smiled up a welcome to which he returned a nod.
On the bank he sat with his new friends, the snakes having moved on, their guidance finished. He understood choice, change and control now—and how the power to choose our perspective is the one thing we have control over changing. He felt unity replace blame’s insignificance and offered it a handshake—realizing his hands were already being held…and, had always been so. He saw connection everywhere but wondered if what he perceived was actually there, if anything other than consciousness existed.
And with that he knew what always had previously escaped him. He knew what so many grasped for but often fumbled to find.
He knew, with his exhale, where home was.
Matthew David Bade loves yoga, running, animals (especially birds and squirrels), crossing bridges and being outside with dear friends and family. He is an artist, writer and drummer that played for yoga classes in Bend, Oregon, where he laid his head the past five years. [email protected]
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Ed., T. Lemieux/Kate Bartolotta