We are all on a journey. Some of us see our mountain very clearly but some can see just a glimpse of it from a distance. Some of us are confident that there must be another world than the one we were born in, while others don’t question it. But far beyond the forests in a village was a girl who decided to go on a journey and learn which world she was really from. This is a story about finding the world we belong to. I am sure you’re on your quest too.
Chapter 1. The Ordford Village.
It was a village like so many others in the world. Some people worked in the fields, some commuted to the cities. Some people were content with where they were and some thought there must be something more to life. At the edge of this village was a school that taught the local children about life and how it should be lived. Every year, sometime in June, on the first day of astronomical summer, a cohort of children would finish high school. In the village this was the day when all students would decide what do they would do with their life moving forward. One year, in the crowd of students waiting for that day to come, there was a girl named Lola. Every year when she had seen the older students finishing school she had been somewhat jealous – she longed for her graduation day. The majority of students had no complaints about the life set out for them in the village, but Lola was different. She had studied diligently, trying hard to do her set homework and follow the path in the way the school system had designed. But despite her effort it all seemed like a chore; something seemed not quite right for her in the world she had been born into. For a long time, since she was very young, there had been something like an itch inside her body. Yet, she did not know what this was. Ignoring it for years, she followed the routines and schedules and just tried not to be too different from the others; she stayed compliant with the requirements of the village. Every day for many years, as she was walking to school from her family home, she would gaze at the view of the faraway mountains. There was a legend in the village that the mountains were sacred and that the people of the village must respect them from a distance but not get too close. When Lola looked at the shape of the mountains from afar, her eyes sparkled and her energy levels increased – something was awakening in her. As long as she could see the mountains as she walked, she was happy, vigorous and somehow walked faster without realising it. As soon as the mountains disappeared below the horizon as she got closer to school she fell into her everyday mood of being just okay and trying to stick to the school routine. As she grew older, sometimes on her way back home from school she’d make a detour and walk closer to the mountains… just to look at them, to be a bit closer, to be alone with the mountains for a small, sweet moment. One day, when she was in her late teenage years, Lola decided to go on a long walk beyond the forest. She planned to get up early on Saturday morning, before sunrise, so as to have as much time in the day as possible. Lola wanted to walk towards the forest and the highlands, behind which were the mountain passes. She wanted to go closer to the mountains and see for herself why they were called sacred. She prepared her backpack with some food and drink for the day and got herself ready for the walk. Her mum had asked her the evening before where would she be going. Lola replied that she just wanted to go to the fields and highlands behind the village to admire the mountains. Her mum listened calmly and said to her, “That’s all right, but remember that the mountains are sacred.” Lola knew this, of course – it was common knowledge – but she asked, “But why is this? Why are the mountains sacred? Can we go there one day and visit the villages that are around them?” Lola’s mum answered, “If you would really, really like to go, I won’t stop you, but it’s a lonely journey. You will have to go alone. It’s a dangerous journey too. Many people have been lost and never returned to the village after going on this quest in the past. So we, the people of the village here, should respect the mountains and the villages around them and stay where we are. You can go and see the mountains from a closer distance, but remember, there is a time for everyone to decide what they will do after school. Just wait for your time, don’t rush, don’t get too close yet.” Lola’s mum knew her daughter very well, and she knew what was coming, hence she did not want to stop her from seeing the mountains and said nothing more to stop her from getting closer that day. And Lola did exactly that – got up early as she had planned and made her way through the darkness of the village while everyone else was still sleeping. She walked through the fields that surrounded the village and then into the green forest behind. As she walked into the trees, the sun started rising and the birds started singing almost as if they were welcoming her into their world. The day looked set to be sunny and beautiful, just as summer was meant to be. She walked joyfully, despite the heavy backpack. She emerged from the far side of the forest to find huge meadows covered with flowers that she had never seen before. She traversed the fields with growing excitement – she was getting closer to the mountains. After she passed through the meadows she sat down on the ground to rest, as it was already midday. The view of the mountains was so much better than what she was able to see from the village and it took her breath away. She got up and began to move closer, and it was then that she felt the itch again. It was not painful; it seemed like joy, like a pleasant hunger, like bubbles in her gut, something that was pulling her joyfully closer and closer to the mountains. Lola could now see the mountains in greater detail. They were taller than they seemed from the village. More powerful and mighty. Yet they still seemed so far away that now Lola understood why the people in the village called them sacred. She sat down in admiration for the mountains and the power they seemed to hold. After a short rest Lola decided to walk deeper into the highlands to be able to see the mountains from as close a distance as she could reach that day. She walked towards the high hills, and when she got closer she realised that the mountains were separated from the flower valleys and highlands by a huge river. The river was so big that she could barely see the houses on the other side. Beyond the river she could just see green lands and the mountains far away, mountains behind mountains, some connected to each other like sisters holding hands, while others stood separate. She sat down again on the grass. The day was beautiful. The sun was softly brushing her skin and the warm wind hugged her. Her chest loosened and felt lighter. Sacred calmness poured through each part of her body. She closed her eyes as she lay on the grass, face turned towards the sun, and thought, “This what happiness feels like – it’s soft, it’s gentle, it’s calm.” Her stomach was bubbling joyfully. She stayed like this for a little longer and then opened her eyes. She stared at one of the tallest mountains she could see and thought, “I see you now, I know you, though not from today; I know that we were friends long ago.” She breathed the fresh air into her lungs and allowed her thoughts to continue. “Every day, when I was coming back home from school, bored and tired of it, wanting to be closer to you, I used to stop by the forest, sit by an oak tree, lean my whole body against it and dream of something that I could not discover in the village. I would close my eyes, yet I saw you somehow there, and I saw you in my dreams. I imagined you just as I can see you now. “People often talked about the sacred mountains in stories and legends. One day, I imagined a mountain for myself. Whenever I had time when coming back from school, I stopped there by the mighty oak tree, felt its energy and designed the mountain in my imagination. I thought, ‘First I will create you in my dreams, and then I will make my way to meet you when the time comes.’ Now, when I look at you, you are no stranger to me. I have imagined you and thought about every detail of what you look like. And here you are. You are my mountain. Powerful and beautiful, distant yet so familiar, unreachable yet so close to me.” Lola felt the butterflies in her stomach. She jumped high and sang a joyful song. Then she danced around, humming an unknown tune. The forest birds flew around her as if they were tracing patterns in the sky. The day passed by as she enjoyed herself there among nature, all by herself. After a while she became tired, the excitement drained away, and she sat down on the ground again, feeling fear like never before. It felt as if the mountain was looking at her with big, terrifying eyes, trying to scare Lola away from the idea of coming closer. It seemed as if the mountain thundered and became distant and unreachable again. Lola did not understand what was happening inside her. Suddenly the evening came and the mountains were covered in dark clouds. Thunder crashed in the distance and lightning illuminated the mountains. Lola saw heavy rain coming her way and rushed to safely make the journey home. As she arrived home, tired from the day and overwhelmed by all she had seen and felt, she went straight to bed. As she lay in bed she looked through the window and saw the top of the mountains far away. She had never noticed the view before this day. Before, she had only seen the highlands, while the mountains were beyond the horizon. So why was it this evening that she was able to see the top of the distant mountains from her bedroom window? It was not a clear view, almost as if nothing was there at all, yet somehow she could still see it. Before she closed her eyes she stared at the sight for a little longer. Her feelings were mixed and confusing to her. She remembered the joy in that first moment when she saw the mountain from the highlands, but also the fear that seized her when she stopped dancing. Looking at the almost invisible tops of the mountains, she thought, “Ah, the mountains are sacred, there is no point in thinking about them for long. Maybe I should just keep them in my imagination and thoughts, as a dream that is not reachable, not available to me. Maybe the mountains can be reached by those to whom they reveal themselves; maybe they are for those who live in villages beyond the river, closer to them. Maybe for the people of our village they are sacred, but not for us. Ah, it was a tiring day, with a storm of thoughts and emotions. I’ll think about the mountains tomorrow.” Then Lola fell asleep.
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