I was standing before a massive rock. No, that’s a lie. I wasn’t standing. I was kneeling. I was kneeling before a massive rock, basically having fallen because my legs would no longer support me. Now what?? Now what do I do?! I thought. I cried the words out, but soundlessly, in my mind. And there were tears. So much frustration. I can’t keep doing this. I’ve run out of options. I ran my hand along the rock surface, only to have its jagged edge slice into my palm and draw blood. I stared at the pretty red drops.
“What were you expecting?” the rock said. “Oh? Softness? Sorry, there’s none of that here. I am a rock. I am hard, unforgiving substance. I do not move. I am not swayed.”
“But I need help,” I whispered.
“You’ve come to the wrong place, then.”
“I don’t know where else to go, what else to do. I’m at an impasse.”
|I am a rock.|
“At least we have that in common, although I doubt little else.” said the rock. “When the sun scorches and burns and sears and drags its fiery hands across my face, I stand where I am. When the rain pours down and pelts me in every direction, I do not blink. The hail smashes against me, and the snow and ice freeze and envelop me, threatening to devour me, but I am unbending. The animals, large and small, leap from my back. The birds of prey rake their talons against me. But I stand fierce because I am a rock.”
“I am not as hard and as brave as you are,” I said. “Is that such a crime?”
“Your tears are wasted on me,” the rock said. “I am impenetrable, almost. Your tears can do naught but roll off my surface. I do not drink. I do not bleed, either. The ghosts of the world, all the dead that walk, those you cannot see, they come to me. They cannot pass through living flesh, like yours, so you never feel them, but they can pass directly through me. Often, they remain within me until the mood strikes them to leave again. All the tears, all the sorrows, all the anguish, all the death of the eons are mine to behold. Because I am a rock.”
I could say nothing to that, nothing to the anguish of ages, although I knew the ghosts well. They might not dwell within me, but they were constant companions. I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my face.
“You’ll get no sympathy from me,” the rock said. “If you’re broken, it’s because you allowed yourself to be. If you’re brittle, it’s because your heart quakes at the onslaught of life. Carry your own burden. Pick it up and shoulder it. I can. Why can’t you?”
Yes, why can’t I? I thought. I knew I didn’t really have many choices anyhow. Choose to fight or choose to die. Those were the only two choices available. Stand up and take it, or lie down and die. It was that simple. I wiped my tears, stood up, and left the hard and calloused rock without a word, without a glance behind me. It would be many years before I realized the gift he had given me.