The irony of empty spaces

You never told me how scared you were. I expect you tried, but I guess the words took a more assured form, in a bid to convince. Don’t worry, I understand. I too keep fear locked deep within. Hell, it’s something I bury, even now. You needn’t have worried though. You are forever capable of more than you give yourself credit for, let the evidence be a lesson in that. Repeatedly you succeed where faith is wanting, with me on the edge of the precipice, egging you on. I thought this time you’d heard what I had to say, but when your thoughts emerge it’s clear that we left some ground uncovered. Try as you might, you weren’t quite able to reach the other side, though you gave the impression of being there already.

No shell can hide true colours though.

Perhaps I’m too harsh. You went after all, brandishing those bear’s claws, that bear’s roar. I owe you thanks for that; I see it as a token of your wish to get to know me better. I wondered when we’d have the chance to talk again, and we certainly found space for discussion, didn’t we? In that blistering cold with fractured ice above and only disappointment below you were forced to hear my words, and although you tried to roar that bear’s roar it emerged a pig squealing, tail tucked between your shaking knees; and realising that the hand you held was at best a well played bluff you began to feel that my words had meaning. Had substance. Had truth in them, somewhere.

I was glad to see the pig emerge. The pain was clear in your eyes, of course; truth is often hard to face, but I’ll give it to you that you faced it well. You wouldn’t always have done so. When we first met you spoke of a world from which you were cut off, and you said you expected it to one day welcome you back. I mocked you with a perhaps vain hope of convincing you that the world was laid open before you and there for the taking, but it seems you took that to mean that you could be anything and would be anything when what I really meant was that you could be free. Free from the shackles you give yourself. But defeat is a dish best served to oneself, and you were clearly hungry.

Younger, you might have turned around, given up, faced as you were with such difficulty, but instead you waited patiently. I admit you did well. You heard the pig squeal and allowed it a voice, and in doing so you gave the bear a voice also, a real voice and with it real strength, strength that kept swinging axes, kept digging at snow and doing everything it could to move upwards, until eventually there was no more upwards left and all that remained was to come down. We were close to each other during those hours. I thought we could only get closer.

We seem to have drifted a little now though. I see you throwing me glances from time to time and that reassures me, but don’t think I haven’t also noticed the teeth biting nails, the tightness in your throat, the hand pulling at skin in the small of your back. Remember what you learned up there; try hard, please. You have little need to be anxious. Your doubt exists in overdrive: the world comes of itself and you are built to deal with it. When you roar a bear’s roar believe it, for you can be that and in fact you are that, you just haven’t quite learned it yet. You assume it, you just don’t quite know it.

I envision a future in which we can live together. Where we don’t need to force conversation and can speak freely, as friends. But for now you remain a preacher of false strength, of squeals disguised as roars, when really you aught to just speak the words that come naturally. The will lives in you and given a chance it will blossom into unfathomable experiences. Those you want and better ones you never expected.

It makes me sad to see the doubt with which you treat that potential, but I feel that you’re on the better side of an undulating course. The fact that you allowed me this voice, in this instant, proves me right. We are becoming one, and in the future I expect you to look back and see that we always were. It just took a bit of discomfort to drag me from a dark place, to make us whole again. To make you whole.

What you learn in the mountains has its place in the world outside, and with each effort I see you take a little extra home. Soon you will be full, and with that will come a great deal more.

Soon you will understand what fullness is.

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