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The Distance

A soft whisper calls for you, caressing the sleeping night and lingering in the cool air. It must be a dream, you tell yourself, and close your eyes. But the restless wind makes its way through the open window, carrying the fading remnants of the delicate voice to your ears. Never did you hear such a tender, soothing murmur.

There is a wholesome quality to it, an unearthly intoxicating purity. It induces a sense of renewed meaning deep inside and reminds you how it feels to be safe. You listen carefully, trying to absorb the wordless sound, trying to comprehend the indecipherable message. But it is too foreign, too vague. You think of the stars above you. Dozens, sometimes hundreds and even thousands of light-years separate between you and them, their glow nothing more than a cosmic echo. They are not even there, most of them long gone, but yet they fill our skies, adorning the dark heavens with their golden shine.

You step outside, breathing in the fresh salty air, your eyes resting on the rough waters of the unquiet ocean. The pale moon guides your steps as you climb on the slippery rocks. Seashells and pebbles crumble under your feet, their shattering sound disturbing the veil of silence. Remote hints of what is left of the voice engulf you. You turn around, you look above, you look beyond, but there is nobody there. Just you, the tormented ocean, and the starry skies above.

“Who are you?” you ask. “What do want? “Why me?” No answer follows. You keep on walking aimlessly, your eyes only barely piercing the nocturnal haze. Where is this voice coming from? What is it trying to tell you? Why can’t you understand? Is this meant to be a riddle? Is it an answer or rather a question? It’s so hard to tell.

Wait. There is something there, far away, on the bleak horizon. A ship. Alone it sails on the gloomy waters. Is it coming or is it leaving? The distance is so conniving, always making us doubt our eyes, doubt ourselves. You find yourself wanting to be there on the ship, in the distance. Anywhere but here. Out there are endless new beginnings and no one knows who you are. Just choose a random spot past the stretch of sea, any spot, and go there. Forget about what was and start living with the “is”. Don’t let this maze of unanswered questions hold you back, captivate you. The answer lies there, it has to be. You know it does. You hope it does.

The early morning mist swallows the ship, swallows the horizon. It’s as if they are not even there, just like the stars, just like the vast ocean. What is it about the great beyond which is so haunting? How could it be so alluring and terrifying at the same time? You long to be there, even though you don’t quite know where “there” is nor do you have the faintest idea what is there for you to find. What if “there” is just like “here?”

The last wavelets vanish as the wind says its goodbyes. Now, the voice is nowhere to be found. The ocean calms down, preparing for its daily slumber. A distant dragging of legs is heard–the first group of fishermen making their way to the ocean. You turn around, not really sure where you should be going now, and resolve in going back home, for now. Maybe you’ll hear the voice again; maybe you’ll even understand what it had tried to tell you. There is nothing wrong with wanting something which is long gone you try to convince yourself. Maybe to them, to the skies, we are also not really there. Maybe to them, we are a surviving memory.

Once, long ago, before we knew much, before we were scared, there was freedom. It is still there. All you have to do is overcome the distance and reach for it.

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