Wanting to write but lost for ideas the other day, I reached into the vinyl piled next to my turntable and picked three song titles at random, then vowed to fill a page of my journal with a story named after each tune. I share the results for better or worse.
Stairway to the Stars
“What are you waiting for, kid?”
The young man stood at the bottom of the stairs.
“I’m not waiting,” he told the older woman, who was wearing the official-looking uniform of the helpful.
“You’ve been standing here, looking up the stairs, for 10 minutes,” she gently disagreed. “Are you waiting for someone, maybe a friend?”
“Yes,” he said too quickly, then admitted, “Well, no.”
“Then go on up.”
“It’s not that simple,” he said. “I’m not sure I want to go.”
“Not sure?” she said in mock surprise. “But this is the Stairway to the Stars. It’s all waiting for you, right up there.”
“I’m not sure I want to go to the stars.”
“Really? Everyone wants to see the stars.”
“See them, sure,” he said. “But go to them? What if it turns out they’re better from afar?”
“That’s why you go — to find out. To see what’s out there,” said the uniformed woman. “I don’t want to say the journey is the reward, but it is.”
“You’re saying even if the stars aren’t what I expected, at least I’ll enjoy the journey?”
“Sort of. More like the journey is the whole point.”
“I don’t quite understand,” he said, but he started climbing.
“You’ll see,” she said. “It’ll make more sense when you get there.”
On the Threshold of Liberty
“We stand,” he shouted, and the empty canyon walls responded, “stand stand stand stand.”
“On the threshold of liberty!” he shouted and listened to the response, “tee tee tee tee tee.”
“Yay!” cheered a dozen people scattered among the thousands of folding chairs.
“Do not be discouraged that no one else came here today!” he said, although discouragement was pulling at his soul and fighting to pull him down. “For one day our message will be heard and the fire of liberty will burn in every soul! People are unhappy and they don’t understand why – it’s because the chains on their minds and hearts chafe at their very being. They can’t remember what it’s like to be free, or freedom itself is a foreign concept to them. But one day – one day people will see we were born independent and with the power to lead our own lives, working together in voluntary cooperation, not forced to follow someone else’s vision right or wrong. On that day we will be free!”
The dozen leapt to their feet, all but one – but That One heard. Five years later thousands would pack the canyon, standing because there were not enough chairs to accommodate them all, listening to That One speak the words of liberty in ways they, too, finally heard, a triumphant day made possible because of this day, when a lonely man called through his discouragement to a dozen people with all his heart. And so it was that the thousands became free.
Willow Weep for Me
The willow tree is weeping, branches bent (but not broken) – but not in sorrow – because sometimes there is weeping for joy, an emotion so sweet it overflows, a joy so big that it can’t be held inside, a happiness so happy that it looks like grief, breaking down the physical being who feels it in sobs of laughter and celebration.
This is why the willow weeps, for the sun is warming her branches at last, the long winter is over, and the spring rains have replenished her soul. Now comes the summer – now comes the relaxation of the limbs – no need to brace against the cold that no longer strafes the field with bitterness. No, the yes has returned.
Yes, the sun shines. Yes, the leaves and flowers and life in all forms grows. Yes, the light is greater than the darkness. Yes, yes, yes.
Willow, weep for me with joy, remind me of the sun and the warmth and the light when I am cold and rigid. Share your joy and your beauty – and when the cold returns and your leaves are gone, I will take that remembrance and come to weep with joy for you.