A Choice (Non-horror Tale)

I had this dream once.  I was in walking through a grove, or what appeared to be a grove.  I walked along a path of damp, sweet grass and past looming trees.  The air around me felt cool, almost cold and the air felt almost as heavy as water.  I continued to walk along this path until I reached a pond.  In the center of the pond, I found a tree, an old oak tree had been growing in the center of the pond on top of a small piece of land.  Its roots extended deep into the water and beneath the water were small water bugs and natural rock formations that illuminated the scene underneath the liquid.  Above the water was a clearing of tall, arching trees that pointed to a beautiful and expansive sky, illuminated by millions of stars.  I walked around the clearing as numerous insects illuminated the air around the pond and small animals gathered as I took small steps around the pond.  I walked to the other end of the clearing and noticed a series of winding paths.  

On my left was a path that continued forth with trees, but all life along this path was gone, appearing to have died many years before and the sky above it appeared as a deep orange with a nasty musky haze that hung just above the tree tops.  This path held nothing but death and misery for anyone who ventured down it.  Another path extended forth showing nothing but a dirt path and rocky cliff sides, indicating that it was barren and that nothing that went down that path ever returned.  Another path arched forward with similar trees as to the ones in the clearing with the same grass and bright insects as before, indicating that I could continue forth along the same path that I was.  A fourth path extended forth into what appeared to be a dark narrow tunnel of trees with many knotted roots along the ground that had light at the end of it, indicating that the path to the light would be dark, but what lied beyond it could be worth the troubles of it.  And a final path extended down along a short grassy outcrop to the edge of a cliff with an ocean extending out beyond it, indicating that this path had a large amount of beauty behind it, but was short lived and that many would stumble over the edge and fall to the jagged cliff edges below.  I stared back at the tree that, until I had ventured around it, concealed everything from view.  From within the leaves of the tree, a large acorn fell and hit me on my head.  

I had closed my eyes and winced as the acorn made its mark against my temple and opened them again to look up at the tree, only to find a blue butterfly floating just a few inches in front of where I had been staring.  It floated down and maintained a position directly in front of my field of vision.  It began to speak to me in a voice that was smooth but assertive, a voice that commanded my attention.  “Which path do you seek to follow?”

The question itself forced me to pause and consider what the butterfly meant by this remark.  “I am unsure which path to follow.  Do you know the way out of this forest?”

The butterfly flew around me and flew past the five paths as it spoke.  “Each of these paths will lead you out of the forest, but each has their own outcomes.  It is up to you to decide which path it is that you wish to follow.  Each one has a beginning and an end.  Some will end before others and some will drag on past the point of which you would have regret venturing down it.  With each of these paths comes a series of choices, choices that determine whether you enter back into this clearing or into a new one, or determine whether you leave this forest or die in it.”

The words that this butterfly uttered to me made me ponder the wisdom that lied within them and made me consider what I was going to say next very carefully.  As I looked at each of the paths, I began to notice things, small bubbles or images began to appear on the walls and trees of each of the paths, small glimpses at what appeared to be events that were yet to happen.  And as I looked around the rest of the clearing, I began to notice past memories of mine began to appear and play out in a cinematic fashion along the surface of the trees, along the surface of the water, and along the ground as well.  What the butterfly was telling me was true.  Each path had its own course of cause and effect scenarios, with which I could change the direction of the path or influence the events that would follow.  

I looked up to the butterfly and announced my realization.  “Yes, I understand now.  Each of these paths is a path that I can choose to take my life down, paths that can influence my life and well being and that will present me with choices that I can influence if I make the right choice”.

The butterfly shook its head at my end remark.  “No choice is right or wrong.  You can interpret the consequences of each choice as being right or wrong, but a choice itself is not inherently right or wrong until you decide it is so and act upon it.  These paths are not permanent but have great influence over what choices you can make from here on out as you try to leave this forest.  Stray onto the wrong path or make a choice that can endanger you and you shall perish within this forest.  But make the choices you desire and you can expect to have an outcome that pleases you.  Perhaps it is not the outcome that you wanted the most, but will be an outcome you enjoy nonetheless.  I am but another being who is subject to the same rules and laws of this world as you are.  The only difference is that I can show you the outcomes you cannot see.  The choice is yours as to which path you take, all that I recommend is that you make a choice.”

And with that, the butterfly flew behind me and slowly pushed me forth towards the paths.  I was hesitant, paralyzed with the possibilities and the fear of the unknown.  Not knowing which path would lead to prosperity or freedom was a daunting prospect, but one that I had to accept nonetheless, less I remained in that forest.  So, with a heavy heart, I made a choice and marched forward, hoping that as I moved forward, the butterfly I had entrusted my own life would help me forward as I continued to make choices and take the risks that came my way.  My journey through this forest would both begin and end with the same thing, a choice.


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