The Well and the Bird
In the desert of my soul, I strove to live and live, to survive and fill my lungs each day with scorching air. The severity was exhilarating. The suffering filled my heart with joy, infinitely so since it was deliberate and voluntary.
The longer I sweltered in the heat, however, the more I became disheartened. I felt as though I were fading away. The joy I feasted upon before had begun to rot, and my tongue was parched. I cursed the sun for shining. I wondered how I found myself in the center of a desert.
As my will withered away, I saw in the distance a stone well. I stumbled forth and peered into it. It was poisoned. The ink-black water lurched upward and downward; at times it leapt, trying to escape its prison. It smelled of death and snapped like a starving beast. Its appearance disgusted me, but I felt compelled to look at it closer. Even in the wild movements of the waves, a distorted reflection peered back.
It appeared to beckon me and stirred in me a kind of revolting attraction toward it. At that moment, I felt a strong urge to lap up the liquid and gorge myself on its poisonous pleasure. That thought began to overcome my reason until I at last resolved to reach forth and drink. As I extended my hand, I saw more closely the reflection in the well. It made me pause. My face had become monstrous, and all light had disappeared.
Though I hesitated, I determined to stomach these pains, and thus I continued to reach forth. In that feverish state, I willingly threw away caution and judgment so as to feel unburdened and to be free of obstacles. Then I heard the single melodious chirp of a bird.
I remembered goodness. That one sound, that one voice pierced through the chaos of my mind and restored harmony. It came from something like a dove, perched on the stones of the well. Reflected in its gentle, innocent eyes was a smaller version of me, surrounded by the infinite desert and sky. The bird was so white, so clean, I felt frightened and disgusted with myself. One part of me desired to dive into the well and hide in its filth. The other part felt an immense, overbearing desire to become like the dove.
While I struggled to find my resolve, the bird flew away. The reflection in the well suddenly extended its own arm and grabbed my hand to pull me in. I made my decision. I grasped the hand firmly and pulled my reflection out into the blinding light. Its deformed features and horrific countenance no longer scared nor attracted me; I began to love them.
The light seemed to overwhelm it, however, as it began to turn into dust. The scorching winds blew away the figure, and the dust flew away, forming a path through the crackling hot sands.
A resonating peace flowed through my body. A child-like curiosity was born in me then and compelled me to look into the well once more. It was clear water. Without any thought and without drinking, I turned from the well and continued my journey on the desert dust road, wondering how best to become like a dove.