Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole

There was the rabbit hole. Beautifully ensconced in the wilderness. There, where it was all green and lush and beautiful. It was all it was set up to be and more. Its entrance was a guild of jewels, it was everything promised. She had grown up with stories that bespoke its mystery, its wonder, its secrets. She had been waiting her whole life to find it, she had been seeking it out for as long as she had known. It was where she would find the treasure.

She hurriedly cleared the awning. She wanted to see what was inside. After all, the wonderment of life was down this rabbit hole. The entrance was unexpectedly small. Maybe if she squeezed in this way, and then that way, she might be able to get in. So she tried. She contorted her body; she went in, head first. It smelled enticing. It smelled of sunflowers. Her favorite flower. So she mustered the courage to contort some more. An inch here, an inch there, and then she felt herself slide. Suddenly the rabbit hole opened up. No one had told her this! She was down a slippery slope. Down she went. Head first.

The wind whizzed past her. The smell of sunflowers lingered. She saw open skies and seagulls; she saw dolphins in the sea; fishermen waved to her. She moved on. She zipped past the sea; she crossed straits, a coral reef, the smell of salt lingered. Suddenly she was in the middle of a forest. The rabbit hole yawned open. She could stand up. She dusted herself clean and looked around.

All was silent. Not a leaf stirred, not a bee buzzed. She heard the beating of her heart as she forayed into the unknown. But she was no stranger to the wilderness. She had been lost many times before. Albeit, never in a rabbit hole. Always a first. And so she trudged on. She had worn the wrong shoes. And dress. Her feet hurt, her dress caught on thorns and ripped in patches. She carried on.

“Hey, little lady, where ‘re you going?” said a big ANT with a bigger load on its back.
“Down the rabbit hole,” she replied. “I’m sorry, was I in your way?” She stepped aside.
“Nah, I’m just doing what I always do,” said the ANT. “It’s all the same down here. If you’re looking for the way to the treasure, turn right, then left and then stay on course. You’ll walk into a SPIDER’s web, he’ll guide you after.”
“Good luck,” said the ANT and moved on.

And so she walked. Her feet hurt and her dress ripped, but she took a right, then a left and kept walking till she found herself stuck in the sticky web of the SPIDER.

The prickly SPIDER made its way to where the little lady was stuck. Sweet, sticky web stuck to her hair and her torn dress. She was expecting him.

“I was told to ask you the way to the treasure,” she told the SPIDER. She didn’t bat an eye as he inched closer, with his hair standing on edge, his eight legs moving assuredly in her direction.
“I was expecting you,” she said.
“The ANT sent you here, did he?” asked the SPIDER. “Are you afraid?”
“Of you or the rabbit hole?”
“Depends on the story you’ve heard,” said the SPIDER.
“I’m here to find my way to the treasure. You don’t want me. I have rotten shoes, a torn dress and a palpitating heart. You’re better off with someone ….intact. Moreover, you have a structural issue in your web. It’s going to unravel right there if you take one more step towards me,” she said, pointing to the upper right side of the web.
The SPIDER weighed his options. He saw her point. She was dirty…and lean. He’d get more out of fixing his web than indulging in a meal he wasn’t keen on.

“Take a left at the fork till you reach a stream,” he said wearily. “You’ll see a Fisherman with a boat. He’ll take you across. Pull at that thread near your left shoulder, it will unravel and free you.”

“Thank you, SPIDER. Good luck with your web,” she said and set afoot.

And so she walked down the rabbit hole. It was the most beautiful place she had ever seen. There was not a human being in sight. The birds chirped, the trees whispered, and the forest floor opened up to greet her. Before long, she was at the edge of the stream. She saw the Fisherman. The same one who had waved to her earlier. Was she back to where she had started? She pushed the thought out of her mind and signaled to him. Her shoes were soaked with silt and her dress weighed her down as she waded through the water to where he was anchored.

“Where ‘re you off to, little lady?” he asked.
“I’m off to see the treasure,” she gasped out. “Can you help me get across?”
“I’m afraid I can’t. I haven’t eaten in a week and I can’t move my boat further out,” he said.
“Can I help?”
“I’m afraid there’s nothing you can do to help…”
“Hang in there, will you? I’ll be right back!”

She sprinted back to the SPIDER.
“SPIDER, what if I told you I could show you a new way to spin your web, would you help me with something?”
“Will it get me more six-legged creatures from the forest?”
“Yes, it will!” And so she spun him a new web; a strong one, made up of enticements and provocations and encouragement – the kind she’d been spinning in the world above. The SPIDER was impressed. He agreed to help.

“I’ll be right back!” she said and hurried to find the big ANT.

“ANT! If I tell you that I can ease your burden, will you help me with something?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“How much food do you need to survive every day?”
“A quarter of this morsel of sugar,” said the ANT, signaling to the sugar on his back.
“What will you do with the rest of the sugar morsel?” she inquired.
“I’ll store it of course!”
“What if it rains?”
“That’s why I collect more than I need!”

She looked around, picked up branches, leaves, stones and made the ANT a canopy.
“The rain won’t get to the sugar now,” she said. “You can carry less and store what you have.”
The ANT was ecstatic. He was ready to help.

He followed her down the road… right, then left, right up to the SPIDER.
The SPIDER, the ANT and she walked down the road, took a left at the fork and reached the Fisherman. The SPIDER spun a net so the Fishermen could catch fish to eat; the ANT used his strength to push the boat out into the water. The little girl hopped in with the Fisherman, waved goodbye to the big ANT and SPIDER and they were soon on their way.

The Fisherman dropped her to the other side, bade her well and set off to fish. She followed the path up the hill….she climbed and climbed and climbed. Sweat poured down her body; she paid no heed to her tattered dress and her missing shoe. She rallied on. She was off to find the treasure at the end of the rabbit hole.

She reached the top of the hill and stopped to catch her breath. The valley looked beautiful from up here.

Stop. Breathe. Stay still, little lady. Take it all in (this was the treasure)! But she didn’t know it. She was restless, impatient and eager. She started downhill….and missed a step. She tumbled head first, down, down, and down the rabbit hole. The wind whizzed past her. She smelled the ocean again… she thought of the Fisherman in the stream… she streaked through open skies and sea gulls flying high; she caught sunflowers in her hair.

She tumbled on to the grass. It was green and lush and beautiful. Just as it was before she went down the rabbit hole.

She got up and dusted herself. She was missing a shoe, her clothes were barely concealing her beauty. She had tumbled down the rabbit hole in search of treasure. Instead she met an ANT, a SPIDER and a Fisherman. They all knew each other now, only she wasn’t there.

She turned towards home. Maybe there wasn’t any treasure at the end of the rabbit hole, she thought. Maybe there was, and she missed it. Maybe she missed it.