Young and Wild Creatures: A Myth about Answers and their Questions
There was once a perfect land where all voices spoke poetry and all the world rested in the sweet nectar of loving itself in a million tiny ways.
Where the blossom loves the air by blooming its fragrance with delicacy enough to require your senses go seeking for it in order to meet. Where the wind loves the tree by tussling its hair, grabbing it taut with pressed kisses, and then disappearing playfully until its own laughter tumbles it out of hiding to embrace again. Where time loves by remembering all things. And where young and wild creatures love each other in full abandon.
Two such wild creatures were more meant for loving each other than all the birds in the skies.
He had spent his full life walking the land. He was the master of the earth beneath him and around him. He asked each thing a hundred questions of itself, and learned its answers. For you see, each thing on its own has the very essence of an answer inside it.
Each thing in this beautiful land is bursting with joy to tell you of its secrets. They spoke gently, so that no human ears could hear. They did not use words, for their answers lived below the realm of words, and came from the centers of their hearts. But He was the Master of all answers. So when he asked who each thing was, they told him joyfully, and he was full of knowing.
He asked the tortoise how her tissue sat in her shell, and the tortoise answered. He asked how the willow branches grew down away from the sun, and the willow answered.
He was a good master, so all of creation loved him for it. His feet knew the distance between any two things. The song from his throat could call unto him any beautiful bird to come sing with him. The trees would lean in if he desired shade or fruit, and lean away when his bright smile called for sunshine.
He learned the workings of all things, the timing of them, and he cultivated and cared for them with such humming respect that neither he nor the trees felt any space between what they were.
But he desired one thing, to share all he had come to know with someone like him. He imagined her, graceful, fair, and he imagined the smile on her lips as he wove stories of the beauties of the world he had come to know. He imagined how the words might sound as they left his lips and floated to her ears…
He stopped, for just then he realized, he did not know how to explain all he knew.
For what words could craft the full and deepest meaning of the knowledge he had gained?
He was swept over with his loneliness for a time. In seeing all things below the surface, knowing them to the bone, but not being able to share their words to another soul.
He sat up. The master desired two things then. He desired to share the joys he had come to know with someone. And he desired that, when he found her, he be able to articulate the wonders of his knowing to her. Not just to bob on the surface of a knowing of a thing, madly scraping at it to get to the root. No, to really and fully answer all her questions the way the beautiful world had always answered his.
The Master, young as he was, knew there must be an answer to this question of his too. And just as he could ask the starfish about breathing underwater and the starfish would tell him, he could askhow to articulate his deep-bodied knowings of the beauty of the world, and he would be told that too.
All he needed to find was the thing that held this answer, so that he could ask it. But what such creature or landscape could possibly hold the answer to a question about all things?
He set off to search.
Walking, he met a frog. Frog, he asked, do you know how I might share my knowings? The frog ribboted gleefully, happy to give his answer. “I catch flies and swallow with my eyes”, he croaked.
Ah, thought the master, what a lovely answer to a different question – but it’s the answer you were born to give – I cannot be mad at that. He smiled and went on his way.
He came upon a giant stone. Stone, he said, do you know how I might share my knowings? The stone stood still, quietly contemplating. The master waited, knowing all good answers take time. Until the stone grumbled a bit, I take my shape in between the winds and seas, slow as an hourglass or fast as thieves. I melt underneath, I stand up above, hard as all things, soft as dust…
Now the stone itself made no noise that any ear but the master’s could hear. But the stone did answer, and would have kept on answering joyfully, until the Master spoke. Ah, what a beautiful story of the shape of time, he marveled. It is indeed one of my favorite knowings. But it tells me the answers of you, not of the question I ask. I will continue on until I find the thing whose heart is filled with the very answer I seek, who cannot help but to answer me this question when I find it.
And once I know that answer, I shall be prepared to find my love, for I will know all things and she will love me for being able to answer all the questions of her heart.
He smiled and went on his way. Up around new hills and deep into crevices he searched, asking all things and learning many new answers, but naught to quench his question. Still he continued looking through caves and waterfalls and fields of lilac, through gullies and deserts and pine forests.
Until slowly he came upon her. She was dancing when he first saw.
Her feet twisting lightly through the grasses, her arms bending with the melodies of the wind. She was a great and glorious mystery to him, the most lovely creature any had ever seen. She was the breath of a flower, the birthplace of the wind. She was the sharp tooth of the keen fox, and in all the knowings the Master held, he could not find any to truly compare.
The master knew that this creature, the purest and fullest of all, must know his answer! He ran to her, breathless, and she eyed him like a deer.
Bracing his hand against a tree, he eagerly asked her, “Maiden, do you know how I might share my knowings of the world? You must know, for your very essence is that of my answer. There is naught left but you to fill this final hole in my heart. I am the Master of all answers, and I must know this last one! Please, tell me this!”
But he did not yet understand his mistake.
He did not yet know that many men have perished in the torment of asking her that question. He did not know of the thousands who endlessly had dug into her like buried treasure, hoping for the answers that would make them whole, or safe, or that would make her theirs to own. He was unaware of the greed of men who had tried to force her heart and rouse it to themselves so they could rest easy a while in the power of their own knowings.
What he did not know was this: at the center of her heart is no answer. Not the way a rabbit or a daffodil answers. At the center of her, there is only one question, for she was the Maiden of all questions. A question so complex and riveting that in its own asking, great storms tear through seas. Thunderheads collide with all the anger of lions, and waves rip open the deep. A question so perfectly simple, that in the bated listening breath of a waiting babe, a cloud is born, silent, innocent.
The question that lives at the center of her no one can ask, for it has no words. Yet this question is infinite – it begun upon the tumbling of time and continues still. In the rising and falling of trees and colors and ideas and lives, like the turning of a kaleidoscope. Every ounce of everything that has ever been and ever is and ever will be, from the tiniest spec to the greatest of galaxies, these are the tumbling’s of her question. And her question lives before her, beyond her, and through her.
But standing there, the Master and the Maiden, the master believed she had an answer to give him. So he began to dig a little toward her heart, and she, ever herself, allowed him closer.
As he looked curiously at her heart, he began to see the question that lived there. It looked rather like a blanket that he could not see the edges of, and he did spot a stray thread. He reached in and pulled it out, hoping for a clue of an answer, but he found the thread did not remove itself from the blanket. Rather, it began to unravel the blanket itself.
He had an idea then.
If he unraveled the whole blanket of her question, he could find the answer at the other end of the thread, even if she would not share it immediately or if she herself did not know it.
So he continued to pull at the yarn, undoing one row, then another, all the while she stayed open to him. Until he found that somehow, his own shirt thread was now woven into the blanket and was coming unraveled. And what more, he found that his shirt had been woven into the sky and as he kept pulling, the sky began to unravel too.
He stood back in awe at the scope of the question in this heart of hers, and what it would mean for his quest.
He knew that he had now been woven into everything, and to discover the fullness of this maiden’s question, let alone her answer, would mean his own unraveling.
He was afraid.
He could run now, quickly, while the maiden was tangled in the fine string of her own heart. He could leave her without his answer, knowing that he had traded his prize for his own safety.
He could sit with her, unweaving her question slowly and surely, keeping its wildness under his control. He could spend his life systematically attempting to understand her mess, barking at her to stop dancing so she didn’t catch the threads and tangle them back up into more knots.
Or he could stand, smile in the face of his own unraveling, and breathe her question into the burning of his own soul. He did not know what that would look like, or when it might kill him. But he thought of the image of meeting his match, his lady, and knew that he must have the strength found only on the other side of this quest so that he could bring her what she deserved.
He breathed. He smiled at himself and her. She invited him into her heart, and he pulled at the string of her million-mile question.
Many days and months passed as he traveled and traversed her heart. He had encountered already things that bit at him if he pulled too forcefully, or storms that would drench him with a vengeance simply because he stood under her clouds.
And slowly with time, he saw in the threads a map. He used the unraveling of her question like a trail to follow across the small of her back and into the tingling of her toes in the river. He traced the threads of the world to her lips and deep into her words. He traced the unwinding of her infinite question down her belly and back through history itself.
He had felt somewhere along the way that all the while, he had been unraveling too. That the structures of what he previously called skins lay unfurled in piles along with the mysteries of stars and ripe raspberries and grey fish. Yet he did not feel less. He felt free of a burden he hadn’t known he was wearing.
And finally, he saw the map clearly. For the map that formed as he unraveled her was not separate from her at all. And the question that has been singing forth from her breast was not separate from the question in his heart either.
Just then he knew, he could spend the rest of his days until death pulling at the string, searching for the answer at the end. Chiding her to stop re-tangling what he had learned already, or he could join her heart.
He could dance her kalediscopic colors, tangling and untangling, both of their feet re-weaving the threads of their question and answers into new and brilliant patterns together, their hearts light for the joy of giving up an impossible task and instead celebrating an infinite mystery.
He knew this and he felt his song. So he stopped asking her question. Rather, he stopped looking for her answer. Instead, he began to sing her question from treetops, content and exhilarated to know that he had forever and a day to feel the contours of her heart as it sang with his.
Each moment of her supple movement arranged a new and breathtaking piece of map, available to wonder at and explore. She was a vast and wild land to wander endlessly. He traced his hands around the curves of rough stone. His feet drank in the dirt and his eyes brightened for new mystery around each corner.
And with his curiosity and embrace, he began learning things he never could have learned while he was looking for the answers.
He began to learn the subtle languages of all the things that bit at him. He learned how to play with them, bite them back, or make them feel safe.
He learned to dance in the rainstorms of her heart and roar with the thunder instead of sulk under it, so that they were not separate from him any longer. He was no longer rained on. Rather, he was inside the rain and with it completely. Nowhere and everywhere at once.
And she loved him for it, gifting him with more and more of her thunder so they could roar together. Gifting him with more and more of her simple stones so he could marvel in a thousand silent ways at the perfectly unique shape of each. At the black sheens and sandy specs of each one.
Each stone held yet another question, and he learned to marvel at it rather than knock at it for answers.
As the master danced in the unraveling of her impossible question, he realized he was no longer afraid. The concept itself had no meaning here inside her heart.
Was there still at times in his explorations pain? Hunger? Rage? Most certainly.
Did he sputter and cough as she dragged him occasionally into her salty seas and held him under a little too long out of her own devilish delight? I will show you where.
But did he sulk at it? No! He turned right back around, smiled at her devilish grin, and pressed his mouth to hers as they both tumbled back into the surf. His full unraveling had left no part of him shakable in her drenching downpours. And she delighted in having him marvel at her questions, and she opened all flowers to him, knowing he was no longer there to prove anything to her or himself.
For he, in finding her heart, in finding the birthplace of the wind, of the most unknowable question, had come to know something about it yet.
He did not survive off of the sweet smell of her roses. Nor would he perish in her earthquakes. He stood instead, through all of it, from the depth of his own knowings and not knowings, holding the beauty of every twist and turn of her question.
And so they went on together, dancing and exploring. He made love to her in the rain and carried her through the desert sun. He met her crying eyes and raging screams and joyful laughter with the embrace of one who feels the truth of things deeply. The truth of both answers and questions.
And she filled his heart with so much wonder and adventure, that everyday he could explore new parts of her and him, and of the land they cultivated together.
Until one day he remembered back to a time that seemed ages ago, faded as through from a dream. He remembered the day he had set forth with two desires. To find a maiden to share his knowings with, and to know how to share them.
And he realized he had found what he was looking for, though not as expected. No, he did not find out how to articulate his knowings. He found that which is far more brilliant than an answer. He found the birthplace of a never-ending question. And what’s more, he had found it inside the very heart and essence of the maiden he came to love, and inside his own.
He did not fear her anymore, and so he did not fear all things. For as the master of answers and the maiden of questions lay softly, unfurling their hearts to one another, their threads were truly tied up together and what once was two hearts became one. The hiding and seeking, the asking and telling, the knowing and the mystery. They had fallen in love with the dance that binds us all to the tumbling on of time. The same question at the center of her heart and his.
And they rejoiced to sing it ever on.