Breath of Life
This story explores the notion (or possibility) that every living life form could possess some level of consciousness, or possibly a “soul”. The events within this story may take place in our world, or within another? Thus far, it has been accepted by most that we humans on Earth are the only ones privileged enough to possess such a thing, and therefore, encounter the associated experiences. It would be an interesting suggestion that we are not unique in this way. It’s interesting enough that it has been seriously researched by a curious few within our scientific community. An abundant amount of testing has shown all levels of life (such as eggs, bacteria, and even plants) express measurable reactions to their environment, and to other life forms. Wetland plants actually release electronic impulses when other creatures die near them. Certain kinds of music can promote, or hinder plant growth - ask any horticulturist! Can these beliefs still be considered “wives tales”?
If the idea that humans are not exclusive in the possession of a dimensionless "soul”, this could help substantiate philosophies embracing life after death, reincarnation, alien worlds, and even scientific theories such as “String Theory”, the idea that our world is not simply 3 dimensions, but many. We may never know for sure if such things are true. Or, we may simply never have the opportunity to even recall, or comprehend such things. Are there other worlds that do? Could it be better that we don’t? This simple tale hopes to engender such questions.
In addition, this tale also reminds us of the harsh realities found within our natural world. The cycles created within the various “levels” of life are ongoing and without preference. Death regularly encompasses the living, where many who go about life completely unambiguous to the lifeless around them, and are simply struggling to survive themselves. This social indifference is clearly evident among those we consider lower life-forms. Some species are blinded by fate - others by choice. Could a single, common origin explain our own insensitivities, much like the other “beasts” of the world? We may never know – then again, we already may?
" Breath of Life"
As the rains recede, we come upon a clearing in the forest. The sound of the rain is gradually replaced by the sounds of the forest creatures. Birds sing, squirrels scatter through the tree branches, and deer begin to feast on the newly rain soaked grasses.
The sun breaks through the first opening in the clouds and a blinding ray of light warms a cool patch of earth. The forest quiets as if a sense that something important was about to happen. The warm ground begins to rise. It pulses up and down like the beat of a heart. The pulse quickens until a powerful rhythm is reached; growing louder and stronger much like the beating heart of a fetus fighting for its long awaited chance for life.
Finally, in one giant thrust, a plant stem explodes from the bulging mound, climbing higher and higher, gasping for fresh air from the recently opened sky. The large single stem splits into several; reaching out and up, transforming into arms, legs, and feet - hands, fingers, head, and finally long, flowing hair. This enigma had now become that of a young girl. With feet still rooted within the earth, the girl pulls upon them with all her might, splitting her physical connection with her powerful maker.
The struggle stops. She catches her breath in relief and now realizes she’s entered a new reality. A reality foreign and frightening, but new and exciting as well. She slowly investigates her new self with bewilderment and awe. The smoothness of her skin, the length of her lean arms and legs, the shape of her delicate fingers, and the silky texture of her hair, all amaze her.
After accepting this new world of hers, her attention focuses on her surroundings. The deafening silence that resulted from the startled forest creatures soon becomes filled with the activity of life once again. A tempo is felt deep within her chest, and music fills her head from somewhere deep within. She is compelled to follow this mesmerizing rhythm – reaching, bending, and twisting like the untamed waters of a mountain stream. Her steps turn into prances, then into leaps through the misty air. The rain and light that gave her life, now transforms into freedom, carefree thought, and complete ease of movement. She strides in rhythm and time as the blur of tree trunks and leaves pass by her newborn vision. She flies through a meadow like a gazelle, leaping over obstacles and streams without the slightest hesitation or thought of concern.
Her pace continues on and on like a young energized fawn at play. Then, with one last leap, she collapses to the ground as if all her strength had been selfishly taken away. She is bewildered by her sudden loss of movement and abilities. She lays looking to the sky through the thick of the branches of the tree above her. Calmness finally resides within her. But, for the first time she questions her purpose and her eventual fate. All of a sudden, the flapping of wings is heard and a beautiful songbird lands on a tree branch high above, sprinkling some of the recently settled rain upon her head. She feels a definite sense of empowerment growing within her. Her head tilts as the setting sun illuminates her face and hair, giving her additional newfound strength. She rises - she slowly moves once again - steady and sure. Her pace and movement quickens with unbridled confidence and the grace of a well-seasoned dancer.
The setting sun now lies low in the sky stretching cool blue shadows long across the fields. She keeps focused on her performance knowing deep within this could be her swan song. Savoring every step, every leap, every twist and turn in stride, she slowly becomes weaker. No matter how determined her will or what physical efforts she calls upon, her attempts to keep pace are futile. Time itself slows down and her euphoria diminishes. As the last glimmer of the golden sun hides behind the distant hills, her movement continues to slow until she is little more then a lifeless statue. Remaining still for a few final moments, she realizes her ability to stand tall with the very limbs grown from the earth have now surrendered to that which first created them.
Slowly, she lies down upon the soft grass, now cool and dry from the northern winds. This grass, now her bed for where to rest her head and once skillful limbs, cradles her like a mother cradles an infant babe.
Her eyes close, a smile upon her face, knowing she was blessed with a rare gift only few souls are privileged enough to live out; a gift greater than that given to any other creature within the forest. As the winds blow past, she starts to dry and her once soft skin turns dry, umber, gray, and green. Her limbs shrivel to that of rugged sticks, much like those that have slept on the forest floor since time began. The few twigs and leaves that make up her remains, blow loose and flow with the winds. They flow again like the freest bird soaring through the open sky. Her soul, now free again, dances once more over the earth; to and fro - through the trunks of trees - far and wide.
For a few moments, the forest creatures reside in silence, unaware as to this beautiful stranger’s fate. The silence continues. Then, her faithful friend, the songbird, is seen once more approaching from the distant horizon. It swoops low to the earth where her few scattered remains lied to rest. A small single twig is snatched up by the soaring bird and carried away.
Now we are far away, our view high up amongst the treetops. The songbird approaches with twig in beak. It lands upon a branch - its proclaimed home - and places it deep within the many twigs making up the nest that protects its own growing offspring. One of the chicks cries for its mother’s attention before darkness approaches. Others high in the treetops follow suit, as life for them continues on without preference, without discrimination - each a soul - each a force - each a purposeful life.
All sounds fade as the remaining life-giving light fades to the pitch of black. A few moments pass. A pulse is heard. The Earth – its relentless heart - it beats once more.