The Grey One’s Warning

Stop. I stand between, and would have a word with you. I hope that I won’t have to let you by. Why head you this way to take the road of reckoning through the swamp of sorrows, the terrain of trials? It passes through many a land marked by sweat and tears. It puts years on a person who is barely of age. It’s treacherous trails are well worn, for it is said to traverse the hero’s journey.

Who doesn’t want not merely to lead, but be a hero of her life? Why not, indeed. But of that life they say many things, and most know nothing about what it could mean. You already dread that what they say applies to you. But child, of all that has been said, very little is actually true.

Yes, life can be hard and harrowing. This is the reason given by many for why they choose to walk where the toughest brambles bar the way, though they could often take a clearer trail. They’d advise you to ever expect effort, exhaustion, and endless enduring. You should be honed by hardship, as if your form were locked within a stone and could only emerge harshly, weathered and chiseled and chipped away.

They say you will not be worthy unless you faced pain again, and again, and again. Ordeals, they say, are not only necessary to growing, but somehow deliberately placed in your way. You must prevail, but then, once more, you will nearly be broken. I am no stranger to what they say.

For almost before living memory, I once heard these same things, too. I took them to heart, as innocent, brave children do. I stood where you stand, before me the same twisted road obscured in unsettling umbral silent shade. How to survive, this I quickly had to learn. I was told that if I could not succeed, I should not return.

In many ways I became a shadow of what I could have been: I thought control was discipline, I mistook terror for triumph, and perhaps I unlearned such things too late. Thus a seed of grey as tendril wisps of fog encroached upon life’s wild green until it finally held sway.

I am the wanderer of mists and fog, not yet forgotten, always feared. I came to be called Grey One. Then hardly any one would meet my eyes. I am not heeded, only revered in hushed hurried tones. I returned and was remembered after death, but lived much of life alone.

Do not follow such an outdated path, I will tell you of the better way to go. Put down that pad and pen, for neither north, nor South, nor East, nor West will do. Sit down, young traveler. I will tell you what I know, for I can share a thing or two.

Listen, hush, be still, hold out your hands, close your eyes. I have seen men fight their dragons in bright red lines, who would not know how to shine even after they were through. Many a one has tried… oh yes, they have been tried and tried. Since when did trying lose its wonder and become a term of testing, a testament to a separateness that does not exist? Life becomes harder the more you resist. Often it is better to be, than do.

These are things you already know. But you stop trusting yourself to find the way, and instead wonder whether to believe the things they say. You, too, can fight your way through the dark, or steer by the light that burns inside. Every moment is a new chance to decide. And if ever, once again, you need to get clear: There is no where else to be, but here.

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3 thoughts on “The Grey One’s Warning

  1. I like the sentiment of this story, Éilis. A lesson we would all do well to heed. I must admit that I had to go back to the beginning a couple of times because I kept misreading the first word. I was convinced it was Shop! That’s the Christmas ethic for you 🙂

    1. LOL! Sadly, it’s too true about Christmas and shopping. 🙂

      I’m glad you liked the post. It is one of those stories with a message in it I felt like I was being asked to write quite on the spur of the moment, and then I was surprised while writing it. 🙂 It was exactly what I needed to hear and I was hoping it might speak to others as well.

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