“Okay, now close your eyes,” the wizened old man said to the young woman. The two were standing in the middle of an ancient forest, the trees reaching high above them, into the clouds. It was dark in this small clearing, although the sun was high in the sky due to the shadows of this prehistoric wood. The power of this aged wood ran through the area, creating a sense of purpose and place the young woman had not felt before.
When her master told her he was taking her to the middle of this sacred land, she felt hesitant. She had only known him for a brief period, having him appear at her door only a week prior to tell her she was destined for great things. Yet, there was something in his eyes which told her she should trust him. With all she had learned in these past seven days, she had started to wonder if this feeling of trust was some charm he had placed over her. Whatever the reason, his comforting aura gave reason enough to follow deep into the darkest depths of this uncharted portion of her country, to a place she wasn’t sure existed before she walked into it.
She closed her eyes.
“Do you feel it?” he asked.
The woman searched her mind. His question was so vague. Feel what? The cold air brushing against her cheeks as it whipped through the trees? The shaking of the ground as the trees creaked in the breeze? The warm energy rising up from the ground, first covering her ankles and now slowly making its way to her knees?
“Yes,” she answered in awe of the intensity of experience. She realized she had stopped breathing as her body became enveloped in the energy, her heart raced with the sheer power now running through her from the earth below.
“Now, reach out, see if you can feel around you, perhaps there is something hiding within this forest that cannot be seen.”
The young woman attempted to do as requested, but found herself incapable of feeling anything outside of herself. The rush of energy around her was strong, and felt as though it were building up to levels higher than she would be able to maintain. She pushed and pushed to seek out the area around her, the heat from the pulse of power rising.
“I can’t do it,” she said as the heat burned within her. What originally had felt empowering, now felt as though it were taking her over, that it was destroying her from the inside.
“You can, I know you can.”
She pushed harder still, trying to reach past the pain, but still struggling to feel anything outside of herself. One more attempt, she strained with all of her mental might, screaming out in agony as the fire burned within, before finally collapsing to the ground, the heat rushing out of her hands into the earth below.
“I’m sorry,” she said through tears. “I’m not strong enough.”
She looked up at the man she had declared to be her master, who now had a wide smirk plastered across his face.
“That was spectacular,” he said as he offered her a hand to help her to her feet.
“What do you mean? I failed, master.”
“Failed?” he said with a laugh. “Failed? I’ve never seen such a connection with the planet as you showcased here just now.”
“But I couldn’t find what you wanted me to look for.”
“Oh, no, of course not. Take off your shoes and try again.”
The woman looked to her master in question, but did as he requested, again closing her eyes and immediately feeling the warmth of the energy filling her body once again. However, as opposed to before, where she felt filled with the energy, she now felt it flowing through her, as though she had become part of some greater power.
“Do you feel the difference?” the old man asked.
“Yes, master,” she said breathlessly. The power before had felt incredible, but this time was completely different. It wasn’t the scope of the power she was filled with, but the scope of what it was connected to. She could feel everything around her. She was now one with the world. The trees of the forest spoke to her of tales long lost to time, of their youth when the world itself was still young, of the hundreds of men who had attempted to travel this way before, only to lose their way. The history of the entire planet flowed through her and she now realized that she was a part of that history. A part of that world.
“And do you see what’s hidden?”
“Everything, master. There’s a whole world hidden from our eyes. A world of history. A world of…”
“Of truth,” the master finished. “The world most humans live in is filled with trying to avoid the truth of this land. They live in their homes away from the nature which provides the very means of existence. They don’t see what is truly present. They don’t see what is truly real.”
“I see,” the woman replied, eager to return to the state of oneness with the earth, but also having so many questions she needed answered. “But the planet, it said it is dying.”
“Yes,” the man said sadly.
“And what did the planet want you to hear?” he asked, true curiosity covering his face.
“That it’s sick. That all of this power, it’s being taken away.”
“Ah, yes, that’s what I expected you to hear.”
“What do we do about it? How do we help?”
“The first step,” the man said as he turned away from the woman, “is to hear. To listen.”
He stepped into the thickness of the trees, disappearing into the darkness.
“What does that mean?” she shouted after him. After receiving no response, she ran in the direction he had left in. She quickly realized how impossible it would be to find him. She closed her eyes and allowed the energy to flow through her once again, seeking in all directions for the man who had disappeared from her life as quickly as he had appeared. In every direction, the only human she could find was herself.
She was alone. And she was starting to wonder if she had always been alone. But now that she had found her place in the world, she was also wondering if she could ever truly be alone again.