My Little Fox

This is a tale about a man lost in a labyrinth of endless mind, imagination and shadow with no way out.

You bound into my life with a dazzling fire and illuminated the dark place that I dwelt. I chased after your fire, terrified to leave the place I reluctantly called home for so long. I did not know what I was doing and I did not care. I felt foolish and embarrassed.

I was mesmerized by your light. I could not pull away. You brought such vibrancy to the world that I could see, if only to stumble. I was not afraid to walk when you were near.

You banished the gloom and my heart warmed, my eyes softened and I could feel again. But I did not know what to do with it.

I saw how my darkness let you rest from your own nature. You could curl up in my lap — just for a little while. You could set aside your cleverness, ease your paws and just be without needing to be anywhere. But you were always drawn back to where you came and I grieved every time you left.

You came to visit me again and again and we celebrated this odd partnership that seemed to come out of nowhere that we could not define.

But ultimately it was a dance we could not keep up.

You wanted me to keep up with you, but I feared the forest. I leapt, and ran and jumped, but I did not have your grace. I fell over and over again. And I was afraid of your fire. I needed you to cool your flames for just a little while so I could hold your hand — but you did not know how.

But we tried anyway. Over and over. And we burned each other. And even though it burned, it seemed right. Every wound was secretly a blessing. It made us happy, even though neither of us could recognize it. We were healing something, but we didn’t know it at the time. The happiness that we covered up with pain kept pushing us forward.

We were too wrapped up in the choreography, rather than surrendering to the dance. We were under a different spell that whispered in our ears. How long have we been under that spell? It feels old — ancient — beyond our recollection. It kept us in two worlds.

I was determined to learn how to become fireproof, but you were just as determined to honor your fox spirit and run free. I let myself be burned and you kept coming back trying to dampen the flames.

Neither of us were wrong. Neither of us were right.

You wanted me to see you. And I wanted you to see me.

I wanted your fiery freedom. You wanted my pale peace.

I could not give you what you wanted. And I could not give you what you wanted.

But we both gave each other exactly what we needed.

We danced and danced until I could dance no more. You were too fast and I could chase no more. And your fire sung you a song you had to follow without me and I knew I had to let you go.

Your light left my forest, so I slowly surrendered back to my place of shadows. There I would spend another eternity in sorrow, wondering if a light like yours would ever return to me.

I tried to find other lights, but they were just wisps ; phantoms ; they faded whenever I came close, never really there and I just ended up getting more lost.

But do you know, I wonder, that you gave me everything? I kept a bit of your fire. I studied it. I coveted it. I got angry with it. I despaired over it. And then I realized it was showing me what I hated about myself. And that is when I learned love it.

And when I did that, it came to life. It sang. And I wept in joy. It was like you were with me again.

In time, I started to learn to create my own fire. I am terrible at it, but I could banish the dark just for a little while — just a little bit at a time — like a firely — so I could move.

I have to gather together kindling, wood and it requires much effort, but I can create a light. Not like you. You burned like a star. It was your nature that you couldn’t contain.

And I got better and better at it until I could light the way out of my shadows and see through the thick wood. I moved from camp to camp, sometimes forgetting where the last camp was — getting lost all over again — before I learned I could carry the fire. And slowly I found a way through the trees.

I did not know the whole time I was following you or using what you taught me.

I’m not as bright as you. I must make the fire anew every time. It is not my nature. My darkness snuffs it out ; it cannot get enough and I am always in a constant battle of attrition. It is always an argument. A fight. But I can walk now. I can see. You freed me.

I think about you all the time. I wonder if you took a bit of my shadow with you? Did you never learn how to cool your flames? Are you as much a victim to your own fire as I was, still letting it consume you — take you whether you want to go or not? I just want you to be free too.

I long to be by your fire again. I want to put down the torch. I am weary. What secrets am I hiding? You showed me who I was even when it was hidden from me, even as I refused to see what you made plain.

I finally found my way out of the forest. I am standing here, with the horizon before me. The world is here in all of it splendor, going on forever. It is an open prairie with the dark woods behind me. I no longer fear them, but they are no longer my home either.

But I am lonely. I want my fox by my side. But she is not here and I hesitate. I look at all this beauty and I can’t help but feel it seems like a burden.

I hate picking up sticks. I hate rubbing stones together. I hate carrying the fire. I hate that I have to accept this hate otherwise I can’t pick it up and move it. I hate the person I was even more and I must honor the person I want to be and that I have fought to be. Where do I go from here?

My heart calls me to go forward, yet also keeps looking through the trees hopping to spot you.

My heart says wait forever. My heart says I must go on. I cry, because my head cannot find a bridge between the two.

I use the smoke of my feeble fire — a hazy imitation of you — to send signals. I look into the bush and call out to you, hoping you will hear my voice and follow it. I play music, thinking of you. I gather wood & keep the fire of my camp burning so the light is always here for you, even though I am exhausted from doing this ritual so many times.

If I return to the forest to go looking for you, will you run from me again? Will I rob you of the shadow I have given you? Will I take away your triumph of finding your way out, too? And then will I lose you forever? I am terrified by this.

Have you figured out yet that we were the sea & the sun? You shone the light into my bottomless depths, and I quenched your endless fire.

The hawks, the robins, the cardinals, the little chickadees come to me sometimes. They whisper to me that you are still out there, thinking of me too. They tell me to wait. Do I trust them?

I think, maybe, if I leave this place, can I leave you a trail? Maybe if I leave tracks, little sketches on rocks and trees, messages in bottles, will you find them? And find me? But if I do, will I be too busy looking backwards to see where I am going?

How do I honor you now but to say I love you and always will? I shout it into the forest. I love you.

How do I tell you that you are prefect the way you are? That you can’t run from your own fire, just like I can’t run from my own shadow? Are we to be the sun & moon constantly chasing each other but never together?

My heart just will not let me go from here. I cry. I laugh. I look up at the sky, wondering if you are also looking. And I am learning that patience is a gift you have given me too.

I breathe. I let the darkness seep back in. And I temper it with the ephemeral fire I have built, even knowing that it will go out again. I will despair again when the darkness takes me and I will have to rekindle the spark once more. A ritual I know well now.

There is an unsteady but warm peace knowing that I can do this — at least. I can do this.

So, I think I will continue to wait here. The weather is nice. The birds are singing. The flowers are blooming. My heart is like the clouds in the sky when I think about you. I feel grateful. And there is plenty of firewood for when the night comes again.

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