Contrast

Glittering waters trickle over jagged edged rocks resting on the creek bottom.  Sunlight breaks through the clouds, a respite from the overcast threatening to pour spring rains but refusing to drop from the darkened sky.  Graffiti randomly spoils the otherwise blank canvas of the concrete pillars supporting the simple bridge above, columns temporarily disrupting the natural flow.  The roar of a lone car driving over this bridge drowns the sound of rustling leaves in the wind.  A light clanking soon joins the disorder of sounds, produced from an aluminum soda can casually tossed from a passenger in the now unseen car.  Dents mar the can’s structure as it bounces along the pavement toward the guardrail, to which it collides and hurtles over the edge to plop in the creek below.

Carried by the lazy current, the soda can begins a slow journey of solitude past trees and shrubs, weeds and insects, flora and fauna.   No eyes to see nor ears to hear, only a senseless object devoid of life floating naturally along a country creek.  It is only a can that is incapable of thinking or awareness, yet somehow it knows it does not belong in the presence of resting frogs and brilliant orange blooms.  The shiny artificial paints covering the aluminum somehow seem lackluster and plain in this new environment.  New dents and scratches from drifting over rocks and colliding with stray branches give a sense of fragility; even the tab near the opening has been detached and lost near an abundance of soft gray clay.

Darkness descends as nighttime arrives and the soda can stops in a shallow sandy embankment.  Stars are visible briefly between clouds before the landscape is completely shadowed from the incoming storm.  Distant clashes of lightning and thunder arrive to the creek.  Strong winds assist in breaking branches and creating current.  No raindrops yet to raise the water’s depth but only moments till the first.  Vibrations pass through the ground from a great thunder-clap and the winds push a branch onto the can.

The aluminum caves from the sudden pressure and tears the length of the can.  Fresh raindrops clatter inside, increasing in amount with each passing minute until the environment is drenched in a downpour nearly as heavy as a waterfall.  The wounded soda can soon submerges beneath the large current and rapidly increasing water depth, where it is covered by sediment that is unable to surpass the fallen branch.

Buried and invisible now, one could question the existence and presence of this can.  Had it really only a day before been filled with bubbling soda?

Impossibilities

Impossibilities

A butterfly once dared to be a bird.
The others would hear this butterfly dreaming aloud and say to be content. Becoming a butterfly from a caterpillar was a difficult task itself, why would you want to be a bird?
But the butterfly would still feel as though it were only a caterpillar incapable of metamorphosis, trapped with the mind of a caterpillar in the body of a butterfly.

But how does a butterfly become a bird?

Smoke

I was once a flame.

Only smoke remains
temporarily
floating into the air
after that flame
has been suddenly extinguished,
a soft gray cloud
drifting in the air
and ceasing to exist.
One would never know
that a flame had burned brightly,
blue at the cotton wick base
and dancing
with happiness and excitement.
The pleasure faded quickly
by a simple cold breeze,
leaving no warmth behind
as a reminder of the light
that had brightened the room.
Smoke attempts to dance gracefully
and appear happy,
but the surroundings
absorb its existence
before it notices
that dancing
is no longer possible.

I was once a flame.

Rat Race

Silence takes over the worldly surroundings, leaving only a ringing of anticipation as a remembrance of functional hearing capabilities. Competitors wait at the starting line, seemingly the same in the capabilities they possess . Each trained exactly as the others, for the same duration, using the same exercises and trainer, resulting in the same achievements. All are equal in strength and hold the same record in the race they are about to begin.

But they are not equal. One eagerly awaits the signal to begin the race, unaware that a neighboring competitor tied the laces of his shoes together. Another knows not that her over excitement will cause blindness to the damaged area in the path ahead, causing her to limp the remainder of the race. Nothing is what it first appears.

Sounds rush in and cease the ringing as the race begins. Everyone rushes off, perhaps tripping or combating an obstacle, but free to roam in an attempt to succeed. You push off just as willfully as all the others and sprint forward quickly and impatient to triumph, step after step, yet the others are now distant before you. Even after falling and earning a few scrapes and a bruised ego, the man with the trick laces has remedied himself and come before you. But how? Equal opportunities were given, not a thing different! Yet here you are, back of the lot!

Sudden clarity materializes, and you realize you have been running on a treadmill- a machine that with absolute certainty you know had not been present a moment before, yet somehow here it is! You are trapped on a treadmill alone, unable to get off, an unknown force keeping you in place while everyone is soon out of sight. It matters not that all were equal in every ability and resource necessary to accomplish the common task- it is presently impossible to reach the position of the nearest person ahead.

Don’t despair! You have not reached the fore-running position by cheating the competition, take pride! You will not be disqualified!  Nor do you need to limp until the race is finished for lack of attention!

Though you do not know, not all your competitors are succeeding in the task; their quick start and praised efforts are beginning to decline in appeal. Beautiful scenery slows an artistic mind to a walk, deemed unimportant by the masses but somehow influential enough to this one person to cause resistance to the fast-paced demand. Another has stopped with no intention of starting up again, unable to evolve to the more demanding environment previously not encountered before this race. A pool of water blocks the path for yet another, who is unwilling to learn the skill of swimming to cross and cannot go around for it mysteriously follows. Varying surprises fill the path ahead to challenge each individually.

Your current situation of events seems bleak, but you will break free of your invisible restraints and escape the treadmill! There! You’ve done it! No longer you will be left behind.

But suddenly you are not in such a hurry. You don’t want to miss anything important along the way or ignore those moments that bring a smile, so you walk briskly along the path and soon pass a few competitors that once seemed to hold the advantage. You are still behind, but now it does not seem so terrible. Challenges and obstacles develop in your path and you pass them with refreshing skills you were unaware of possessing. Fewer and fewer opponents lie ahead as you pass them, choosing to help some and leaving others behind.

Victory may not be yours in this fast-paced race. Some will fall behind no matter how they try, and others will give up. You may encourage them along the way even if it may hurt your chances, or you may choose to leave them behind. But don’t forget you had been prisoner to a treadmill…and escaped.