A Fable by Tom Radcliffe

These are the days of dreams, when time runs slow like a river nearing the sea, spreading across the broad liminal plane to water the marshes of life. Leaves falling through the golden air, falling on the gusted wind, falling always but never touching, never landing, never stopping or ceasing or dying.

They dance.

This is strength: to not be afraid. To not be afraid to hold the beauty of the world in your hands, to not be afraid to bend your head closer to the flower and breathe deep. To not be afraid to mix your labor with the world, and make it part of you.

Once there was a man who was afraid. He was afraid of all things. He was afraid of what people might think and of what the neighbors would say. He was afraid of dogs and bats. He was afraid of beauty and ugliness. He was afraid of love and joy and he was afraid of fear itself. And most of all, he was afraid of himself.

He struggled through the world, this man, making the lives of those around him miserable, for he infected them with his fear. He had had many capacities, but only two virtues: he was honest. And he never gave up.

Then one day he met a wise guru, who laughed and played in the sunshine, and danced with herself by moonlight beneath midsummer skies. And he saw that she was not afraid.

She saw a willing pupil in him and taught him what she knew, not failing even when in his fear and fumbling he hurt her terribly.

He learned, and one day he awoke and found that something was missing in his world. Something that had been there was present no longer, something that had been his companion since one day in his childhood, when he remembered it coming upon him suddenly. Now almost as suddenly it had vanished: he was no longer afraid.

He puffed himself up with pride and told his guru: "I am no longer afraid!"

And she told him: "That's good." And went on with her dance beneath the moonlit skies.

He pondered this for a time, and asked, "Is there no reward?"

She paused and looked at him and said, "You are no longer afraid."

And he reached out and touched her and said, "I love you."