One day while quietly searching I met a boy made of stone. He was holding something — something he didn’t want me to see. He told me he didn’t want me to see, he didn’t want me to know.
I asked him to let it go, to open his closed fist, knuckles white from the strain, and let it fall to the floor. He told me he didn’t know how. He told me he was afraid — he was afraid that if he let go he wouldn’t know who he was anymore and then I would know that he was nothing. He was afraid that if he let it go he would vanish, that he would go away forever, and that that was what I wanted.
I told him that he makes me who I am as tears rolled down my face. I felt all the people in my life that I love and I knew in that moment that without him I would be nothing. Nothing to anyone.
I showed him how to flow like water. “How do you do that,” he asked me with eyes wide. I smiled and extended my hand to him. “Come with me,” I said. I asked him to come with me and see what the world has to offer to one who extends an open palm in place of a closed fist.
I led him away from that cold, dark place and showed him all of the beautiful things I have seen.
Wide, rocky beaches awash in the orange and red light of a setting sun obscured by soft, billowy clouds where magic lurks among the rocks and the trees, the air electric. The impossible, infinite skyline of a city of ghosts shrouded in mist. Crystal clear water ensconced in ancient trees, hiding secret stones in its depths. An ankle-deep lagoon ringed by cliffs where the soul of the earth flows like water. A mountainside beyond time and space where bright blue sky swells between sprays of pine needles and the only sound that can be heard is the crunching of dirt underfoot and wind rustling leaves.
He saw these places and he saw all of the people that led me there just as I had led him. I showed him love and I showed him heartbreak. He asked me, “But, didn’t that hurt?”
I responded simply, “Yes.”
In an open field under a cool, bright sun we stood. His stone became water and my water became stone. I pictured all of our pain, our trauma, our suffering moving its way through every inch of my body. It moved from deep within my belly down through my heart and lungs, up through my throat and my eyes, into the tips of my fingers, into the strands of my hair. The pain filled us, and because we were there together and because we opened our closed fists to drop the things we were holding onto it felt bearable. It didn’t feel like it was tearing a hole in me anymore.
Maybe I can do this. Maybe we can. Maybe we can be something to someone. Maybe we can be something to ourselves.