“Take me to a fairy tale. To a place where magic is as real and as unquestionable as the fact that Sun will rise everyday again. To a place where the Good and the Evil fight in their never-ending quarrel, just as here, but the Good always wins,” she whispered and smiled gently. As if she could see all of these magical moments at once.
“Take me to a place with fairies and giants, with werewolves and vampires, with witches and magicians… where nothing is always as it seems, and the truths will always come up in the moment of the most urgent need.”
“Give me your hand and follow me…” Life whispered back.
“This is the River of Dreams,” said Life when the universe around them ceased to whirl.
“It’s beautiful,” she replied in awe. They were standing on a river’s edge, surrounded by grass, willow trees and fresh air. The river seemed broad yet clean. Every single one of its inhabitants were either swimming by or lurking in the bushes on the shore, observing carefully who is the one Life has brought to their world this time. They have seen things! But this, she didn’t know. The picturesque picture of the river reminded her of something. Yet she couldn’t reach the memory of it yet. “This place…” she mumbled, “feels familiar.”
“Does it?” replied Life and she could hear a smile in his old voice. She looked at him, with a surprised yet curious look on her face. “Well. Isn’t it the best place to start your journey then?” he asked.
And with a blink of an eye, she was standing there alone, abandoned.
She felt abondoned for a while. By the Life himself. Until she realized she can hear a quiet, distant whispering. She lifted her gaze and started to observe the environment of the river bank.
The water in the river continued in its journey but remained silent. The wind seemed to want to tell her something yet he still hasn’t found the proper words. Only when she gazed upon the river bank, she noticed several pink flowers. Their tired petals remembered better days yet it was their squeaky voice that echoed in the whisper above the water.
She rushed to them and kneeled before their long-forgotten beauty and wisdom. “She doesn’t know the way!” “Then tell her!” “But she won’t listen.” She could finally understand their words.
“I am sorry to disturb you,” she whispered to them so only they could hear her. “But if you’d have a piece of advice for a novice in these lands, I would be eternally grateful.”
“Would you?” asked the tallest of the flowers. All of them started to mumble again and then stopped, suddenly, as if they were one.
“Please. Can you help me find more people like me, maybe?” she asked carefully. The last thing she wanted to do would be to offend any of those magnificent speaking flowers.
“Oh,” said the tallest flower with surprised voice. “In that case, go and ask the Swans.”
The whispering quieted, as she turned her gaze back to the river.
The Swan was floating on the surface of the river and seemingly payed no attention to the girl standing on the river bank. She wasn’t entirely sure how to reach to the Swan, so she simply walked down and sat on the wet grass next to the river. From this point of view, she could easily admire the beauty and magnificence of this huge specimen being surrounded by a few ducks of different colors and age.
“It wasn’t always like this,” said the old duck who was suddenly standing next to her. “Just ask her yourself. She could talk a lot about the struggle to find one’s own kin,” he croacked and joined the rest of his flock on the water.
The girls gained all of her courage and called the Swan. But the Queen of all birds seemed not to hear her.
The girl tried a different approach then. “Swan, you beautiful, mighty Queen of those waters, please.. I need your help.” Yet it seemed the calling had a zero effect as well.
The girl sat on the river bank again and started to talk to herself, quietly, with a pinch of despair in her voice. “How can I find help? What can I do find more creatures similar to me? My kin? Or my legacy? Life left me here with no word of explaination… And being lost doesn’t mind. As long as it doesn’t mean being stuck as well.” She gazed upon the water and dreamed a little bit, about the world this river is flowing through.
And then she suddenly heard it. A female voice, gentle yet deep, kind yet reserved. “You could start with the boat,” said the Swan yet she was still gazing away from the girl. As if she didn’t want to admit she is giving her an advice. “Do not worry. Nobody has used it in ages,” continued.
And as the girl boarded the boat, the Swan gave her one long look and said: “Let the flow of the water guide you. Do not fight it. But observe your surroundings carefully. You will know yourself where to land.”
And so, she pushed off and let the stream of the river guide her. Sometimes, the current seemed to be too strong, other times it felt like her boat wasn’t moving at all.
But every time she wanted to struggle with it and change what was unchangeable, she remembered the words of the Swan: “Let the flow guide you. Do not fight the current.” And so, she always resisted the calling of the need to change things she could have hardly affected.
At one point, it seemed that the stream would throw her on the riverbank next to an old abandoned factory. The place itself seemed empty and frightening, yet she felt like something was calling her from that space of forgotten glory. Something wounded.
She almost already stepped onto the riverbank again and abandoned her boat, when the river yanked with the boat once more. The strength of that movement threw her back into the boat and as she banged her head against its inner part, the boat continued on its journey through the river.
She found the bump on her head by touch and looked back on the abandoned factory. “I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” she said eventually, and never looked back.
It took some time before the boat finally hit the final destination. The river slowly pushed it to the riverbank and seemed to not to pay any attention to the boat anymore.
The girl finally stepped out and tasted the experience of standing on her own legs again. She wanted to think a little bit about the boat and what should she do about it. Maybe keep it for later, just for sure?
But as she looked back to the river, she realized that the river had her own plans. The boat was carried away by the river’s peaceful currents, waving a little bit as if he wanted to say goodbye to his well-known passenger.
“Goodbye, my precious boat,” she whispered silently and followed the boat with her eyes until it disappeared with the next turn of the river. “Thanks for everything.”
And as she turned her back to the river and finally gave the look to her current surroundings, she knew an important journey lies ahead of her.
As far as her eyes could see, she was surrounded by forest, going up the steep hills. As if someone magically invoked the summer, the branches of the trees were covered with green leaves. The breeze was slowly playing his summer leaf symphony and the girl knew she will have to, one way or another, climb one of the hills to see from above where she landed. But where to go?
She closed her eyes and focused on her breath for a while. Which way she should go? She asked her inner knowing and then asked for a help the nature which embraced her as her own. “Which way…” she whispered and opened her eyes.
And as she did, the wind started to grow stronger at one place. The shaking trees created sort of a path in which she followed. No doubts, no questions. She just followed her inner wisdom and let the nature to guide her.
She walked and with every step, she felt she is getting closer. To where? She didn’t know. Yet she was sure she is on the right path.
It was almost getting dark, when she finally hit the top of the hill. And despite the fact that she couldn’t catch a breath for a while, she was in awe, as she saw the majestic castle sitting on the top of the neighboring hill.
What a remarkable castle it was! The courtyard of the castle was full of people and everyone seemed to be celebrating. Everyone was whispering about the princess, about the fairy tale wedding. Everyone except of this old lady who was curiously and wisely observing the young girl.
And the girl noticed. “Hello,” she greeted the old lady as she got closer.
“Welcome, my child,” the lady answered with her ancient squeaky voice. She gave the girl a mild smile as she saw the surprised grimace on her face. “Sure, I can tell you are not from here. But this – “ and she gave her look to the wedding, “do no tell me this is what you want for yourself.”
The girl hesitated. “I guess… I am not entirely sure, what I want.”
“Then ask yourself. And come with me,” said the old lady and let the girl to follow her into a huge castle kitchen. “This is my kingdom,” the lady said with a proud voice. Of course, she was a cook! “All my magic happens here,” she nodded as if she could hear what the girl was thinking about. “Stand here,” she said after a while and pointed out to one of the kitchen’s windows, “and as you look through the window, ask yourself what it is what you really want. If your heart is pure, you will get the answer.”
The girl did as the old lady said. For a while, she was worried that maybe nothing will be revealed to her. What if she wasn’t enough? What if there was nothing she actually wanted? But then she tried to focus again. On the question in her heart. What it is what she really wants?
The world behind the window changed a lot as she opened her eyes to see the answer to her most burning question. To her surprise, no fairy tale prince was waving back to her. No, she knew better by this moment.
As she was looking out to the ocean waves behind the castle’s kitchen window, she knew the thing she craved the most was freedom.
Freedom to create according to her deepest truth. Freedom to love as much, as passionately and as openly as she feels is just enough. Freedom to sing loud when she is feeling sad. Freedom to cry and freedom to laugh. Freedom to explore. Freedom to live.
The old lady saw that the girl found what she was looking for and after saying their goodbyes, she sent the girl on her way. The whole world was waiting outside and there was no minute to spare. The girl followed the road leading from the castle and for a long time, she was lost in her own thoughts.
When she reached the top of the arched metal bridge crossing the river, she stopped and looked around. Was it the River of Dreams again? It must have been.
She gazed towards the west, in a direction her boat took her from, and gave a thank you to the journey which was already left behind. Without this journey, she would have never been here.
And with a gentle smile on her face, she turned her look forwards and continued to walk her path.