The Winds of Change

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: July 19, 2017

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Submitted: July 19, 2017

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The icy wind was blowing gently through the hills and through the trees and through his clothes, but still he pushed on, determined to reach the peak of the next hill in search of the perfect photo. The view was already stunning, but Richard was a perfectionist. Only the best was good enough. That was how he had always been. Although admittedly it had almost always got him in trouble with deadlines and had made him depressed through being so unsatisfied, he pushed on as always at the risk of once again failing to find something that matched his imagination. The snow was getting deeper, but far from stopping to enjoy the beauty of the moment he pushed ever harder and faster in his bid to reach the peak before the light of day began to fade. Once again he had fallen into the trap of chasing the beauty in his imagination, instead of the guaranteed beauty that was all around him. The snow was already nearly up to the top of his boots and every lift of a leg seemed heavier. Tripping, regaining balance, leaving leg prints rather than foot prints he forced himself ever forward. His professional camera swung out and back and round and back and up and back and, bang, right into his rib cage. Of course not being the first time this had happened he swung it behind him only to find it pulling on his neck. Richard was of stubborn sort and he swung it again, tucked one arm through it and wore it like a handbag.  Richard had been in situations like this many a time, but this time the snow was deeper than he had ever walked in before.  It wasn’t always just about the money for the photo that Richard was interested in, it was the mixture of success, beauty, smiling editors, and elation that the often mighty struggle for perfection was over like the scratching of a long ignored itch.  So now with his handbag like arrangement he was all set to carry on regardless. Metre after metre, Deeper and Deeper, Closer and Closer and... “Shhhhugar Lumps!”. His foot was stuck and he was faced with the decision of freezing leg, or less time to get there by digging his boot out. The conclusion was easy, he thought, it would take him longer walking with a freezing leg so he dug out his boot, emptied the snow and pushed on.

Not being too sure of the area he tried for a few seconds to remember the way back to his car, but that thought didn’t last long enough to actually remember before his imagination kicked in and took him to the perfect picture again. On he pushed with the carrot of imagination leading the way. Down and down and down the hillside he went, until he reached the bottom of the last hill. He stopped, and took the time... to check his phone and ring his long suffering wife. Realising that the phone had no signal, and that the light was almost gone, he started on his ascent towards his carrot.

The wind started to pick up and yet more snow started to fall, and he was starting to run out of time. The pace picked up as he realised that the snow beneath him in the current area was less deep and in his mind he was nearly there.

The light was fading faster now, and as he had been so determined to make the freezing torture worth it, he practically ran the last twenty feet to the top. “Ahhhh!” he said to himself (because it really was just him there), and he stood up and looked around, so beautiful, in every direction, but there was yet another slightly higher hill not far away, maybe, just maybe if he could reach that one, that really would be the best photo ever. The view from the top of there must have been the ultimate photo. And so it was, a new carrot was born. Without a moment to spare for a photo he began his descent from that hill, down the other side and on towards the top of the better hill. Once again ignoring the troubles that came as part of wandering through an ocean of snow covered unchartered wilderness. He began is last ascent, not so far to the top of this one, very very steep, but not very far. The snow was getting still heavier but that didn’t matter because it wouldn’t take long if he hurried. Trudge, trudge, trudge he went, gaining speed and gaining excitement, and... He nearly reached the top, when... A sudden gust of wind caused him to trip...  SHHHHHUGAR LUMPS!”, the snow began to give way beneath his feet, and his body began to slope forward and... Down he went! His body bouncing, being bounced in all directions as he tumbled with ever more increasing amounts of adjoining snow. The journey down to the bottom was a lot faster than the trek up, but now there was a problem. A big problem. The fall had broken his right leg and his right arm, and the pain was excruciating. The wind increased, the snow suddenly came down harder and faster as if to punish him further and the temperature dropped still further. Richard was stuck. He had nothing. Apart from the camera, even his useless phone had followed the snow to an undisclosed location. Problems and accidents had happened to him before, but never like this, and for the first time, his attention was focused solely on something other than the perfect picture.  As the pain grew, all he could think about was getting out, getting somewhere that he could be seen, or at worst embarrassingly shouting out for help.

He pushed as much snow away as he could with his left ligaments and bent round and rolled over to kneel on his left knee, but the pain was too much and he face-planted the snow and the emotion started to kick in. The emotion started to generate negative thoughts such as how on earth was he going to explain this one to his unforgiving wife, and would he ever be able to get to places for the best ever photo again.

When he had exhausted all negative scenarios his attention was brought back to the cold that surrounded him, the pain, the wilderness and the heavy snow that he knew would stop him from seeing very far in any direction. He hauled himself slowly towards the slight shelter beneath a nearby tree and started thinking of how to get out of there, wherever there was.  His body began to shiver without command and his toes were nearly as numb as his fingers so the chances of staying where he was were almost nil. He thought of finding a rope, but that was far fetched because all he could find was snow, trees and more snow. For a little while he entertained the idea of pulling himself along, but that would only have got him as far as the next hill. No chance of hopping in deep snow, and there was nothing around that could be used to keep him warm. Half an hour went past and his body was shaking uncontrollably, made ever worse by the relentless icy winds.

How could what started out such a lovely thought have turned into such a harsh reality he thought to himself, and as the night started to set in, he became aware of an even bigger potential problem, that of the wild wildlife in the wilderness. Freezing and afraid he lay there awake from the pain, and awake from the threat of wild animals. Time moved on by several freezing hours and slowly but surely his brain began to wander into somewhere nicer and as his hold on consciousness began to decrease the warmth of a world inside his imagination began to predominate his awareness. He began to think of all the nice times and places he had had the perfect photo, and all the associated feelings, and then he remember trivial things like his camera from his childhood.  Drifting in and out of consciousness he suddenly reached a half way point and a voice shouted in his ear, “who are you?” it shouted, startled he woke up and tried to see who had said that, was it someone who had come to help?, but there was nobody, at least that he could see, and now he was awake and aware of the harsh reality again. As the hours went by with torment, the only thing to numb the pain was the freezing cold, he started to loose his mind, and with it his will to stay awake.

Now the man of steel had forgotten all about the perfect photo and began to drift into a semiconscious state. Negative emotions rushed through his head along with negative memories. He became conscious less and less often until he reached that brief half way point and again a voice shouted “why are you?”. He didn’t care, because he had made some sort of decision to let go of any form of awareness. He slept. His heart beat slowed as different levels of his being slowly gave up without his noticing. There he lay, in an unconscious vegetative state.

The night turned slowly to morning and he woke up. He was awake under the tree with no pain, with no sensation of cold, and with a deep sense of peace as he looked up and began to look at the beautiful morning sun striping through the glistening diamonds of water droplets on the underside of the branches. Never had the world seemed so beautiful. He felt as one with the nature that surrounded him and found that he could understand and feel the life within all things.  He marvelled for a while at the beauty, and got up.

What happened next made him nearly jump out of his skin as he realised that there was more than one him as he got up, and the memories came flooding back as to the pain and the broken ligaments, and the cold, and the wind, and the feelings of helplessness.  In his mind, there was no doubt at all that he was dead so he got up without pain and turned around to see what on earth was going on. He had heard that people go into a tunnel but he couldn’t see one, and as he turned around to look for one towards his face he nearly passed out. It was the first time that he had seen his face from the outside.  He began to study his face and then thought about the rest of his body, his legs and his feet, and as he thought of them he moved higher in order to see them. Not really thinking that he was moving higher he looked at the bloodied and broken dirty mess of this lifeless body and didn’t even feel that sorry for it. It was as if he was the only him, and he felt no connection emotional or physical to his previous shell. He felt light and before he knew it he was being pulled upwards. A sudden sense of remembering came over him but the only thing he could remember from this was that he was loved. Higher he went until he could hardly make out his previous body. Still higher, and higher and by now he could see counties and up and up he went. When the planet he used to live on showed in all its glory he turned his attention from looking down to looking to where he was going and everything went black.

He began to panic and wonder if he was ever going to see a light. Strange scary noises and voices started and he cried out with his thoughts to be rescued. A light appeared in the distance. As he focused on the light he felt himself being drawn towards it. The problem was that the light kept moving away as fast as he was being dragged towards it, and he could hear voices saying “who are you?” and “why are you?. All he could think about was reaching the light. This went on for what seemed like minutes until he thought that maybe the only way to reach the light was to answer the questions. He pondered on them. Who indeed was he? Was he the lifeless body? This new body that he couldn’t see? The consciousness of his soul? The same consciousness that was in his previous body? The Photographer? The husband? And just then he remembered how much he had ignored his wife throughout there marriage, always going in search of the perfect photo instead of spending time with her. He remembered all of the times that she had not wanted him to take as many risks, and he saw the reasons why she was so unhappy so often. He saw all the parts of the marriage that he had never stopped to notice, the good, the bad and the ugly. It slowly started to sink in that he had always focused on one chosen thing instead of taking the time to be fully aware of life spent outside of his passion, and that that in itself had always kept him searching. He came to the conclusion that he was the choices he made, and thought that aloud, as if he were telling someone. The voices saying “who are you” stopped and the light was no bigger. He decided now that there was a good thing that could come from this situation and that it was because he was not focused on the perfect photo that he could take the time to consider things like this and so he thought to himself... ” Why am I?”. Upon doing so he suddenly remembered that he had had a passion for photography since childhood. It had started when his mother who had passed away the month after had said how happy and proud of him she was. He had loved so much that feeling of making her so happy and he realised that deep down his passion was driven from the desire to see the smile upon the faces of those who looked at the photos and that he was the strongest critic. He remembered how his mother had been so happy whilst he had doubted that his first ever photo was good enough. Emotions started to come to his awareness that had been suppressed from the time of his mothers passing, and although he could not feel her physically he could slowly begin to feel her presence. As he came to realise one reality after another he thought as clearly as he could to his mother that he was the one who tried too hard and who had many predetermined challenges. The most potent of which were to experience and get over the pain of loosing her and his dad, to overcome the threat of failure, and to make the most of the moment wherever he was.

No sooner had he thought this then the light began to come towards him at a rapid pace, and as he entered the light he heard the clear voice of his mother saying “I will always love you Richard and I will always be proud of you no matter what”. The light became a tunnel, and the tunnel became the place where his body lay limp and lifeless. Over the hill he saw two men pointing to his body. The men ran down to the body and tried to bring him back to life.  Assuming that he was dead Richard tried to shout to them to give up because he did not want the pain of going back there. The men started trying to bring him back to life between them and Richard kept on hearing one man telling the other that the air ambulance would not be far away. He stayed watching as the air ambulance arrived on the scene, and he stayed watching until his lifeless shell was on the operating table. He tried to think himself back up again but this time it would not work, there was something holding him where he was.

All of a sudden he was struck with overwhelming emotion as he saw both his mother and his father standing behind the body and his father said “son, you will always make us proud of you, your best photos are beautiful, and people love them, we love them. When you take photos that you don’t think are perfect you don’t like them and people love them, we love them. All your photos make people happy Richard, who is it that you want to make happy?”. With that he saw on the wall of the operating theatre all of the happiest times that he had shared with his wife and he realised that when he had taken time for that it had made him as happy as getting the perfect photo and he suddenly wondered how his wife was going to be coping. As he thought his awareness went through a couple of rooms to where sat a weeping lady, only just able to speak to a passing nurse. The sorry sight stuck into his emotions like a knife and he willed himself back into his body.

There seemed like no gap in time and he woke up on a ward in absolute pain. Barely able to move he slowly opened his eyes to the beautiful site of his wife. He did not move, he looked into her eyes, and for at least a minute, all of the pain was irrelevant as he focused all his attention on her beautiful teary eyes. As the love between them was reunited he realised that good things could come from all situations, and that being present in the moment could allow him to be aware of things that he would otherwise have missed. Things that he could then choose to switch his focus to. He spent many days and nights in the hospital bed, sometimes getting bored, unhappy or angry, but always managing to look around and accept the situation for what it was. He even started to appreciate the things that were going on in the moment instead of retreating to his imagination if his situation wasn’t good enough. On the day that he could finally leave the hospital a lady there to visit her son made the hairs stand up on the back of Richards neck. As if she had been told to sing it to him the lady suddenly started to sing the song that his mother had always sung to him from the beetles “let it be”. He remembered that life was supposed to change for the better and the worse, and that he should go with the flow wherever it took him.

Over the next few weeks his relationship improved, his health improved and his body improved enough for him to be taken by a friend back to the spot where he had hauled himself under a tree and (almost) died. When he got there the conditions were exactly the same as they were that fateful morning and he gently laid down upon the snow beneath the tree.  He looked up and held his camera, lined up the photo and suddenly remembered that the photo he was taking was the same as his first ever photo that he had made his dying mother so proud with. Now with love in his tears he was laying there with a heightened sensation of cold and a deep sense of peace as he looked up through his camera and began to look at the beautiful morning sun striping through the glistening diamonds of water droplets on the underside of the branches. Just like he had done, twenty years ago!!


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