Lucy Lemay Cellucci


Journey to Moscias

mountain_background_by_tanithlipsky-d3c40pt Two young men who had recently come of age left their village to participate in a rite of passage. This tradition required the young villagers to leave their families of origin and travel an unknown path for 365 days. During the course of this journey, each traveler would encounter obstacles in his path that would block his way to Moscias, the place of eternal peace and contentment (In my head I picture it looking something like the Mos Eisley canteena from Star Wars, but you are certainly free to utilize your own imagery). All the villagers knew that they could not return to the village and begin their lives feeling content and at peace until they reached Moscias at the end of their Passage Journey. Before the men left, they were each given an urn full of heavy stones by the village elders. The stones symbolized their past. Before he could cross over to Moscias, each man had to place the urn that contained his past behind him.  With me so far?  The first young man, we’ll call him Gerk, set out in the rain. He detested being uncomfortable, so he fashioned himself a hat and a long cape made out of rubber to repel the water. Although he managed to stay dry, Gerk’s ensemble made it difficult for him to navigate the rocky path on which he traveled. The cape would get snared on sharp rocks and branches, and the hat was so large, due largely to the fact that it was designed to provide such effective protection, that it often fell down over his eyes, making it difficult for him to see things clearly. The other young man, we’ll call him Shlock, also began his quest in the rain. Unlike Gerk, he wasn’t afraid to be uncomfortable and welcomed the downpour. Although he wasn’t a fan of the way mud felt when it squished between his toes, he enjoyed the cleansing feeling of the rain, washing his face and hair of accumulated dirt and grime. As Shlock was less encumbered than Gerk, he found it somewhat easier to negotiate the difficult terrain. caveman1 Many challenges arose for the two young men throughout the course of their journey. Both travelers had to deal with the weight of their past, having little food, the wild animals, and loneliness. Gerk in particular had little tolerance for the pain of loneliness. Sometimes, on nice days, as he’d pass through neighboring villages, some of the people would come out to greet him and inquire about his journey. These situations often irritated him since he was in quite a rush to complete his journey to Moscias. The villagers would often courteously offer Gerk bread and wine. Although he was secretly thrilled to received such hospitality (not to mention downright flattered by the affections of a certain goat-milking maiden who shall remain nameless), he would often shout mean-spirited things and wave his arms aggressively in an attempt to keep the others at a comfortable distance. Not wanting to miss these things and people when they would eventually leave (as things and people have a predictable way of doing), he acted like he didn’t want them around in the first place. That’s how he earned his nickname “Gerk-the-Jerk”. Shlock, by contrast, always welcomed the company of others. He found that he not only enjoyed learning things about other people, but he quite liked the way other people could sometimes teach him things about himself. Not one for being in a rush, he had no problem veering off his path for a few days every now and then to rest, or eat, or pay a visit to the local blacksmith to get his tools sharpened. He was more than happy to share in the offerings of other people — including a memorable night spent in the hut of the Nageena sisters, identical twins who provided sheep-shearing services for their entire village and owned an impressive collection of woolen costumes. But that is another story all together … still with me? Finally, the two men reached the end of their journey. They found themselves within 25 feet of their destination — Moscias! Just as they were about to sprint across the finish line into the revered land of peace and contentment, an enormous mountain of schmitt magically appeared in the middle of both their paths (schmitt is the physical manifestation of unfinished business). mountain2 Both of the men felt exhausted and discouraged. Schmitt mountains are notorious for blocking paths and preventing success. How on earth would they get to the other side? Gerk threw down his rucksack and retrieved his pick-axe and climbing rope. He knew how difficult it would be to tunnel through the mountain. It would be back-breaking work that would throw him into a dark, scary and unfamiliar place. Climbing to the top would be equally difficult since the top of the mountain disappeared into the clouds. Going around the mountain would be his best possible action, he reasoned, as he could get to the other side faster, easier and with far less discomfort. So he dug his pick-axe into the ground and began to hoist himself up over the first few rocks and forged ahead, going around the right side of the incline. Gerk soon noticed how difficult it was to try to walk sideways and tiptoe over the jagged edges of the terrain. When Shlock conveyed his concern over the potential for injury, Gerk told him to shut-up and suggested a rather vulgar use for his dried fig rations. As a result, Gerk twisted his ankle. He refused to let Shlock know of his discomfort. He kept his cries of pain to himself and developed an odd affinity for pulling out his own hair. After a couple of days, Gerk noticed how difficult it was for him to use his pick-axe due to the injury he sustained on his hand while defending himself from a ravenous coyote. Frustrated at his inability to use his tool correctly, he broke the axe in a fit of rage. He then proceeded to take out his rope and lasso a mountain goat. goatGerk used his physical strength and his anger to intimidate the beast into submission. The mountain goat was quite apt at negotiating the uneven terrain, and often helped Gerk get over the more challenging sections. But because he refused to show the goat kindness or tend to its needs, it eventually died. This also made Gerk angry. He kicked the goat’s dead body and yelled at it for being so weak. He then proceeded to lasso himself a new goat, which had to endure Gerk’s constant complaints about the previous goat. Shlock was quite sad to see the predicament of his friend. But he knew that there was nothing he could do to help him. He also knew that going around the mountain was not his best option. He emptied his rucksack, took out his own pick-axe and started to forge a path through the mountain. Within a few days, Shlock found himself right smack dab in the middle. He had done pretty well for himself, but unfortunately his hand, which was also damaged in the coyote attack, had become so infected he could not grasp the axe properly to swing with enough force to break the boulders.  When the last of his lantern’s oil had run out, Shlock’s surroundings quickly turned pitch black. At first he panicked, as was his habit. Shlock was terrified of the dark.eyes bulging cartoon character in the dark After breathing deeply into his rucksack for a few minutes to control his hyperventilation, he came to grips with his situation: he could not go back. Nor could he progress forward until he addressed his wounds. So he sat down and applied the aloe vera leaves that one of the Nageena sisters (the cute one) had given him. He began to question his reasons for fearing the dark and realized that many of them were the result of traumatic experiences from his childhood. After a while Shlock noticed that he felt tired, so he lay down on the floor, closed his eyes and responded to his need for sleep. When he awoke three days later, he noticed that he felt better rested and that his hand had healed. He ate the rest of his dried figs and bread crusts, grabbed the axe and once again returned to the task of tunneling through the mountain. This process took several days. Some days Shlock felt strong and had no problems breaking the boulders in front of him. Other days he felt uncomfortable about being isolated in dark, confining quarters. On these days, Shlock would acknowledge how lousy he was feeling and assure himself that it was perfectly fine to feel that way — nobody ever said the journey to Moscias would be easy. Green-Paradise-place-wallpaper-Picture-hd-wallpaper-1920x1080-6-53fb75b2ec26f-7072Finally, Shlock broke down the last of the boulders. Light spilled into every nook and cranny of his dark tunnel. He stepped out on the other side of the mountain and breathed the fresh air deeply into his lungs. The sunlight felt so good, it was as if he was tasting it through the pores of his skin. Shlock reached into his rucksack and took out the urn that contained his past. He put it behind him and proceeded to enter the gates of Moscias. It was every bit as beautiful as he’d imagined. He could not believe the relief and the happiness he felt as he splashed clean water from a nearby spring onto his face. When Shlock looked up, he saw his friend Gerk sitting against a nearby fig tree. Overjoyed to know Gerk had made it, he ran up to greet his former traveling companion. When he arrived at the fig tree, he noticed how miserable Gerk looked. “Gerk, my friend,” Shlock said. “Why do you look so unhappy? We made it to Moscias!” Gerk turned his sunburnt face to his annoyingly jubilant comrade. “And what of it?” Gerk replied. “It’s not so wonderful here.” Gerk had indeed arrived at Moscias — with greater speed, in fact, than Shlock, since he had chosen the “easier” route of going around the mountain of schmitt. Avoiding the work of going through the mountain proved to be more costly than Gerk had realized. He twisted his ankle so many times that he now walked with a permanent limp. Because he pulled at his hair to distract himself from the pain, he was now bald. Because he had become such a harsh man, he went through several goat companions. Gerk had arrived on the other side of the mountain worn-out, ashamed, lonely and hopeless. He was physically, emotionally and mentally bankrupt. It was just not possible for him to appreciate the beauty that surrounded him and feel peaceful or content. Shlock noticed that Gerk’s urn lay at his feet where he was resting by the tree. “Gerk, why do you still have your past with you? We were supposed to put it behind us before we crossed over!”cartoon “I have tried, Shlock,” Gerk replied with irritation. “But no matter how many times I put it down and walk away, it keeps reappearing wherever I stand.” Shlock shook his head in sadness at his disheveled friend. He had made different choices by choosing to face the difficulties of going through the mountain of schmitt. When circumstances prevented him from carrying on in his journey, he stopped and took the time to acknowledge his fears, heal his wounds and rest his body and spirit. Then he continued on his path, following his instincts. When his fears would pop up, he’d acknowledge them, and then continue anyway. He arrived at Moscias feeling as if he’d won an epic battle and reveled in the spoils of victory when he returned to his village to begin his life as an adult who actually had the capacity to experience real happiness. The moral of the story: Don’t be a Gerk. The only way to truly put the past behind you is to go through your mountain of schmitt and not around it. THE END                

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