Farewell

“Dedicato a chi ha sempre una speranza
Davanti ad un dolore nel freddo di una stanza
Dedicato a chi cerca la sua liberta…”

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josh_61.jpg

Farewell

It all seemed clear to him as he was walking the path of sorrow and solitude that led to his favourite clearing; amidst all the tall trees that scraped the skies, it lay round and perfectly set to greet the rising sun. An October breeze was softly playing with his hair, and a just awaking sun was casting warm kisses upon his cold cheek. He had been walking for what seemed like forever; he had walked past monster-trees that wanted to grab his flimsy being, past invisible ghosts of the night manifest only in sound- the cracking of withered branches, the hooting of a lost wild beast, the almost inaudible whispers of a full moon, the swish of clouds that threatened to steal its pale silvery light. He had roamed the grounds of his long lost innocence, getting closer to leaving it all behind, with each step taken feeling the coldness of the fall, like the translucent veil of death, envelop him. It had been a beautiful day, the last day of his existence. He was grateful for it, and he ambled at a leisurely pace across dead leaves and future new lives under them. He believed that every death leads to a birth, and he wondered what kind of life would sprout from his passing form. He hoped to be the ending to a very noble and gracious new beginning- but looking back at his life, he doubted he would be. Nevertheless, it was decided, and he felt calm.

Sitting down on the freshly cut trunk of a spruce, he felt the rough surface of its bark hurt his skin through his hardly protecting thin clothes. No matter, as it felt good to be part of nature. He breathed in the overture of a new day that smelled of dew and dirt and dawn. Birds jumped from sprig to sprig, ruffling their plumage to shake off the chilliness of the morning; winter was in the air, and they knew it would get harder. He watched them jump closer together into a bundle of soft feathers and half-closed eyes; they were a sight to stir feelings in the most callous of souls. Perhaps he could do some good to a living creature as his last deed on this earth; he searched his coat in case there was a piece of old bread in his pocket somewhere, but found nothing. He blinked and looked away, feeling the cold infiltrate his clothes. He would soon be gone, and where he was going, he would not feel anything any more.

In the distance, under his vision that was temporarily blurred by an especially cold gust of wind, he heard the waking noises of the city: cars droning out the human voices, the metallic stretching of buidings that contained the breathing souls which got up and went about their daily monotonous routines, half asleep in their dreams. He also used to live in one of those boxes, safe from the outside world, safe from harm and happiness. He was protected from what he feared and what would have turned him into a living creature, a man truly alive. Doing the same things every day helped him accept the fact that he was never to be unique and special: he had things to do, and he did them, he did what was expected of him. Taking no risks, he had nothing to lose, because he had nothing and no one to love. As he sat on the treetrunk, perhaps hoping to slowly become a new tree, he contemplated his pitiful existence. How had he been able to live for thirty-three years like that?

Checking in his coat pockets once more, this time for a cigarette, he swallowed bitterly. He had left his newly purchased pack on the kitchen table. He only had the lighter with him, so he took it into his cold hand and played with it for a while, looking into the tiny flame, squinting to make it look gigantic, an ominous fire able to burn his whole city and reduce it to cinders. To destroy something and create that same thing anew, how wonderful that would be. But he did not have it in him to demolish, let alone give birth to anything; he had never been the creative type, not even in school and with his mind fresh. He merely sucked in the second-hand knowledge that the world passed on to him, and tucked it safely into the drawers of his indifferent mind. It stayed there, well hidden, with the false hope that one day, one day it would be useful, and he would flourish under his newly found uniqueness. Now he sat under the fondling of the rising sun, thinking of the numerous bits of superfluous information that only left him in the dark whenever he would have needed light and clarity of feeling. There wasn’t too much he could be certain of, but his limited command of the world around him, and more importantly, of human emotions lay before him as firm reminder of what he had ruined in his life.

There, it was almost time. The stillness in the air was so profound that his every breath seemed to agitate the space between him and all the organisms that surrounded him. There was so much around him that he had never noticed before: feisty ferns, dead leaves, broken branches, fallen feathers, tiny pebbles, perfect in their circular insignificance, and all the sounds- birds, cutting the space with their gracious tiny bodies, small animals scampering amidst the weeds, growing, the trees, reaching, the sun, whispering, the breeze, blowing, everything, everything in one large entity, and he was able to inhale it all, and when he exhaled it, he thought he saw the pinetree on his left bend slightly, and he could have sworn that the trunk he was sitting on lifted above ground a little, ridden of the weight of what his lungs had been filled with. Life was surrounding him, tiny molecules of existence that bumped into each other, becoming one, tearing each other apart again, and this neverending process created whirlwinds of feeling. He was part of this adorable chaos and he actually felt his heartbeat rise above all the havoc and above his resignation to death.

He got up to stretch his legs, wondering why, all of a sudden, his muscles felt potent under his skin; blood was circulating in his veins, and his heart was pumping the life-liquid faithfully, dutifully. His awareness of such tiny details not only puzzled, but annoyed him: he had prepared to die, he had resigned himself to the fact that he was useless in this world, and he was ready to go. Why now, why in these last moments did he experience such a drastic change in himself and everything around him?

Across the air, from a place he could neither see, nor feel, he heard something- first he thought it was the wind blowing in his ears, or the chirping of ignorant little birds. It might have also been the medley of city noises softened by nature’s harmonies. He shook himself to see if the sound went away- but it didn’t. And as it grew stronger, he thought he discerned a spiritless melody, floating erratically on the wings of the wind. He stood immobile, trying to hear better; the melody was shaped by a voice, a human voice, it seemed- but no, it could not have been human, as it came from nowhere. He looked around to see his surroundings unaltered; the only change he detected was that he felt warmer under his flimsy clothes.

Taking a step closer to the abyss between the clearing and the city, he heard the voice soar stronger and reach higher pitches of sound. He stopped short to lift his glance, then look around, confused, uncertain. Uncertain not because the appearance of the voice surprised him, but because the beauty of it turned his resolution, previously irrevocable, into a quavering cloud of doubt, a thin film across his eyes, through which the whole world seemed- well, it all seemed- glorious. The scents, the soft colours, the sounds, they all seemed to speak to him in languages undetected by him before. They spoke about unthinkable opportunities, wonderful possibilities, endless moments of joy, on his own, and in the company of others. He heard stories about his past that now suddenly sounded packed with importance, and his future, which seemed to be what he had always dreamed of. He saw happiness and purpose, friends, lovers, children; losses and new beginnings, always new beginnings. The melody sang in his ears and he stood transfixed between life and death, fully aware that one step, one step only, and he would bid farewell to all of it, the chance to be part of the great cycle. Such relief it would be, he remembered his resolution of a short while before; but he also felt uneasy, hearing the voice, so beautiful inside him, reverberating and flowing between his cells that gradually came to life again- and they refused to let go. He was throbbing with painful desire to start afresh as he felt panic rise in him, and maddening questions screamed in his brain- what if he ruined it once more- what if no one would want him- what if he would not be useful, ever- what if he would never find his purpose.

But the voice did not let go. It lingered, tenderly, and spoke to him through hushed melody and harmonious tones. He felt weak with fear, but as he instinctively took a step back, and then one more, gratitude surged within and it almost suffocated him. He gasped for air, reaching out into the emptiness, and fell powerlessly to the soft cover of soil and withered leaves. He sat there, breathing, scared, happy, feeling alive, and not wanting to give it up. The voice sang, and sang, not halting for a moment, and he thought he had never heard anything as beautiful. It was, after all, the song of rebirth, the song of redemption, and the song of second chances. His heart drank it in, and his emotions erupted into the universe through an avalanche of tears. His whole being pulsated with feeling, and thoughts circled in his mind, one, two, a dozen, a thousand, a million, deafening him, telling him what he would have missed, and as he squeezed his hands to his ears, he wept and laughed.

The voice sang on, and he felt at peace with everything there ever existed. He lay back onto the softness, and stared at the endless skies. The wind had turned warm, and birds swooped and soared and plummeted above his head, painting a canvas of his happy tomorrow with their intricate movements. Watching them, watching the sun, and all the while, listening to the beautiful song that came from the angels, he knew he had never been happy before.

He realized that he was special.

He understood that he was important.

He felt-

Loved.

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