imagine you live in a landlocked country. it’s called Fear. you’ve spent your entire life there. so has everyone you’ve ever known.
the national character for residents of Fear is equal parts skittishness and gullibility. rumors abound. most come from the surrounding nations.
but sometimes, you meet travelers. their muscles are contracted just enough to keep them upright, otherwise, they are reeeeeeelllaxxxxed. since you’re comparatively open-minded, you relish conversations with these exotic people.
you’re intrigued by how cool and liberated they appear. you beg them to stay longer, so you can continue observing them. but they are always on the move, refusing to get comfortable in your country.
it’s not for me, they say. too restrictive.
what do you mean? you ask, surprised. we have everything—sturdy houses, predictable behavior, static weather conditions. and we’re experts at identifying and fending off threats, so nothing ever changes.
exactly. they counter. besides, don’t you miss the ocean?
ocean? you ask. you’ve read about it but never seen it.
it’s incredible, the traveler says.
it’s dangerous, you reply.
it can be.
i read the ocean floor is squishy. sounds disgusting. how do you know what you’re stepping on?
eh, the traveler shrugs. it’s not a big deal.
and the waves! you say. they’re huge and unpredictable.
true, the traveler responds. all you know is that they’ll keep coming. they don’t reveal their size and intensity until the last minute. but there are benefits to the ocean. you have choices. you can see what’s around you. there’s space and clarity, no mountains and hiding places like here.
how do you stay afloat?
you keep trying, and it’s easier than you think. the ocean helps you.
how can i get there? you ask. you aren’t going anywhere, you tell yourself. it's just making conversation.
well, it’s hard, the traveler admits. there are a lot of countries separating you from the ocean. it’s tiring and laborious. there’s always the temptation to stay and rest too long. but if you do, you’ll never get up.
the traveler leaves, but you can’t stop thinking about this journey, that destination.
eventually, curiosity gets the better of you and you decide to leave Fear in favor of Freedom, the ocean.
preparations take a while. to get away, you need disguises, forged documents, false identities, and cover stories. everyone’s supposed to stay put in Fear, not wander, and definitely not leave.
and once you’re on the road, there are other challenges. you climb mountains, hitchhike, and sleep in caves. later you camp and build your own fires.
you feel a fiercer loyalty to your country as you leave it behind. even the countries you pass through seem more appealing than your destination, which is a gigantic bathtub of who-knows-what.
but over time, your progress builds momentum inside you and you want to keep going. you’re deceiving your deceivers. and it’s kinda fun. you meet people begging you to stay with them, much like you used to beg travelers passing through Fear. you shake your head and keep moving.
finally, you’re near the ocean. you know because the air becomes crisp and salty. it smells like opportunity.
once you’re in the water, your muscles relax. floating is easier than expected. and you love the mind-boggling expansiveness.
and yes, circumstances change constantly. but they seem different. maybe because feeling calm makes them easier to handle? it doesn’t matter.
the point is, you manage what comes up, then it floats away. sometimes things you want to hold onto float away before you’re ready. and that’s disturbing every time. but whatever you lose is always replaced.
soon, you can't believe you ever lived anywhere else.
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