Don't Look Down
Author: Nihit Kaul
Don't look up.
That's what they always told us. Don't dream of something you can never have. Focus on the road ahead - on the most obvious path for those like you. You are pointy rock so do as other pointy rocks have done before. You are a rounded one, so stick to the rounded path. And you? You are made of many nooks and crannies, chips and cracks - you better aim low and try to just get by. Each rock was told to play it safe - do as others before had done. To never question The Way, lest you be turned to dust.
And so we set out - each our own way…plodding slowly but surely and rising up as much as our station in life allowed. Collecting small bits and pieces of clouds to prop ourselves on. Dreams of the days ahead. Wispy, amorphous, pregnant dreams that held promise like the promise of rain held by clouds. You had to trust that they held that promise. And with that faith, you had to take your first tiny step onto a cloud and hold your breath to see if it would support you. If it would embrace you, engulf you, and take you higher and higher in the days ahead. And every once in a while we would look around and see how the others had progressed. Who was still struggling to find a foothold on the clouds? Who had risen way above us and had no choice but to look down upon us, for no fault of theirs or ours?
With time, each of us rocks took on more and more. We gathered other rocks that wanted to join us on our journey. We worried about each other and held our hands when the weather was rough. The little rocks, which were just parts of us that broke free, needed a lot from us in the beginning. They laughed when the winds blew on their faces and cried when scared by the lightning. And soon, too soon, they took off on their own dreamy clouds while we were left emptier and lighter but with a heavier heart that sank us down just a little.
Every once in a while, you would see a rock disappear. Suddenly, out of thin air, plonk! Just like that it would be gone forever and would leave you wondering what happened? Where did it go? Perhaps the heart grew too heavy? We always wondered about that.
And then one day we felt our shoulders drooping with the weight of everything we had been carrying all along. Our back bent from a lifetime of backbreaking work. And we were forced to look down for the first time in our lives. Really look down. Only to realize that our beautiful, rugged rock bodies were standing on nothing but air. It was all a mirage right from the start. Like cartoon characters that can walk on air just fine as long as they don't make the fatal mistake of looking down, we had spent a lifetime floating on our dreams. And just like that, we also disappeared at that moment as reality and a heavy heart, brought us crashing down, broken into a million pieces.
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