by Robert Alan Silverstein
As she reached the craggy peak, she felt the exhilaration of the climb flood her body in a gentle rush. She gazed out at the valley and the trees and the sky a brief moment, and she smiled before she turned back toward the path.
A few steps ahead she saw an old tattered stranger there, sleeping beside the trail, with a cap pulled over his eyes. A twinge of anxious uncertainty filled her mind, but the cap drew her attention, and she could not look away. In its intricate patterns she saw flowing shapes and tiny curves, sparkling colors winding round and round. Touching, turning, twisting colored patterned cap over his eyes, as he lay there asleep beside the trail.
Pulling the knapsack off her back, she dug inside to find her pad and pencil. She plopped down onto the soft grass, and tried to capture the flowing colors that swam and ran and flew and soared in the patterns in the cap over his eyes.
Her pencil traced and followed carefully until within the pattern on her page she saw his eyes staring, burning bright and dark. Day and night. The eyes were smiling. The eyes were laughing. The eyes were crying tears she had cried. They burned like fire. They burned like darkness. Deep and dark, and clear and bright. Drawing her in. Pulling her down. Lifting her up. She saw all the world, and worlds unknown, racing, flying past, like colors in a rainbow, lost and found. Truths and lies. Death and life. Love and passion. A time of forever. A time of now. A time of then. A time never to be, yet always there. "May Peace Prevail on Earth!" the eyes seemed to plead and proclaim in the same breath, helping her in that instant to remember her own heart's truest wish.
A gentle peace slowly washed over her, calming her fears, caressing her own private loneliness, but filling her with a vision of something so much greater than herself that elevated her spirits to heights she had never known were possible. Before that moment she had thought she believed her heart was searching for One to love, but she remembered in that instant that it longed for nothing less than peace on earth, and only in pursuing that impossible dream with all her heart would she find true love.
She breathed a breath of life and looked up from the page to see the awe and the wonder of it all. The world was alive, and in its fullness she felt life for the first time in so very long. "Peace is the answer and love is the way..." the world seemed to affirm in a wondrous symphony of interconnected songs, reassuring her that a peacetopian world was possible after all.
Unfortunately, that magical moment did not last forever. It started to fade as quickly as it had come. But before it was gone, her lonely heart re-whispered the secret she would never allow herself to forget again: "to truly live I must truly love..."
It had been easy to feel a love for all of life while caught up in the magic, but now it would be harder to see and to hold on to. And she felt loneliness creeping back inside.
As tears welled in her eyes, her heart whispered again a promise that she would not long walk alone, now that life and love had re-awakened in her. Now that she had discovered she was on the right path after all.
The moment was gone, but hope remained. She looked across the trail finally seeing. There was no one there. The stranger was gone. But the eyes on her page were smiling beneath the patterned cap, reassuring her that she was indeed on the road to Peacetopia.
© 1994 Robert Alan Silverstein