''If you could be anywhere? Where would you be? Answer: It doesn’t matter, because wherever you go, you’re still falling.''
-- Paul Harris, The Rule of Four
HE WAS SITTING ON A BENCH by the bus stop. He wore his faith, faded like the rugged jeans on him while waiting for a bus to arrive. Behind him was a vast open space of golden fields of barley. Facing him was a dark patch of concrete highway stretching to the both ends of the earth. And beyond it was another bare and wide space of uncertainties extending towards a horizon that married the endless ocean of the azure blue skies over his head. He felt like he was in the middle of nowhere; almost insignificant against the billowing possibilities surrounding him, taunting him. But in that moment he couldn’t do anything but feel small and wait. The bus wouldn’t arrive fast enough.
For a moment he watched his hands, and traced the lines that ran across his palms. Fate was written all over their skins, ready to be realized. He closed his hands tight and it felt good. For a fleeting moment he was in control of his destiny and the person he wanted to be was in his grasp, etched deep and unfading. Cotton clouds occasionally stained the sky above sometimes forming into familiar faces he knew—his face included. And he watched them all traverse the wide spread of the air eventually disintegrating into wisps until he couldn’t recognize them anymore. The wind had swept away his face.
Very slowly, he opened his closed fists in way like there were fragile-winged butterflies in them he wanted to set free. And then a muted noise reached his ears. It grew louder and louder. He could hear the crunch of loose asphalt against rubber. There was a hiss of an opening door and a booming sound of a horn that shattered the calm silence. The bus had arrived. But he didn’t expect that climbing aboard was far more difficult than waiting for it. He stood by the bus door—ajar and inviting, his hands on the frame, and unable to find the courage to lift himself up. Seconds flew, awkward and pressure-filled. His eyes brimming with confusion met the bus driver’s.
Are you coming, son?
With head on a bow, he filled his lungs with air and let go of the frame. He stepped back and gazed back into the driver’s fatherly eyes, ever wondering if he would regret the next words from his mouth.
No. I think I will take the next bus.
The door closed with another hiss. The large tires started to move. And he watched the bus vanish into the horizon. He looked up to the heavens and look for familiar faces. There weren’t any. He imagined himself sitting on the bus, watching hills roll, grass-scented air caressing his weary face. Could he have risked everything and rode the bus till the end? He looked up again and there it was—the face he longed to see, smiling at him.
And then he ran as fast as he could, his shoes biting good on the rough surface of the road with the wind crashing brutally against his face. He closed his eyes as he sprinted towards the horizon, praying the opposing air could blow away the ghosts in his head and the cramps in his legs. But it was too late. Because like a snail in a race against all the fastest creatures of the world—he just couldn’t outrun himself. He couldn’t outrun gravity. And in that moment he realized that horizontal motion is an illusion—that he needed to move just to convince himself he’s not on a free fall.