Once upon a time there was a man walking down a path in a thick forest. He was on a journey. To what end, I cannot say, but that is not important. Honestly, it’s what happens along the way to wherever that may be is what’s most important.
As the man was walking a giant rain cloud formed above him. The cloud shouted down to the man, “Take cover! I will tear you in the wind and drowned you in the rain!” The man stood firm. He replied “I will not take cover! For I am man and I cannot be stopped.” The cloud passed on with not so much as a drop of rain falling down. The man screamed “I am mighty! I am man!”
Later the man came to a patch of tall grass, where sat a lion. “Run!” roared the lion, showing his mighty fans and ferocious claws. “I will tear you to pieces and feed you to my young!” Without hesitation, the man pulled his pistol, and shot the lion down. He decided he would keep the fur as his trophy, for such a brave battle against the fierce lion. He screamed “I am fierce! I am man! I cannot be stopped!”
Much further along the man came to a fork in the path. Where the path split to the right, grew a patch of tall trees. To the left the path was smooth and clear. The trees begged the man to stay to the left. Not only because going right would ensure their demise, but because the trees guaranteed that life on the left side of the road was much greater, healthier, and wholesome. “Letting us trees live would be your greatest choice,” they declared. The man wanted to go right. The right side of the path was where he needed to go; moreover, he knew his journey would be quicker and with less struggle down the right side. He chopped the trees down. The man was right; his journey would be somewhat easier down the right side, despite what the trees promised. Proud of his choice and the realization of easier travels, the man proclaimed loudly “I am noble! I am man! I cannot be stopped! I am destined for greatness!”
The man continued to walk and walk. Along his journey he encountered many other challenges and obstacles he continuously overcame. With each new victory reifying the man’s idea of his own greatness, he pushed further. When the river came to sweep the man away, the man went back to the trees that he had cut down, gathered their limbs, and built a ship. The river hollered “I will drown you and your ship! I am the river! I have destroyed entire forests! Who are you to challenge me?”
With great strength and courage the man sailed his ship across the river, arriving safely on the opposite bank. “You may have claimed other beasts before me, but I am man! I am intelligent! I cannot be stopped! I am destined for greatness!” The man abandoned his ship, and pushed further into the forest.
Eventually the man grew tired. He laid down to rest. The man had been traveling for so long. As he lay, he sensed a stranger hiding in the brush, ready to pounce at any moment. The man hollered “Go ahead! Try your luck with me! For I am man! I am mighty! I am fierce! I am noble! I am intelligent! I cannot be stopped! I am destined for greatness! Reveal yourself!”
At that moment a dark shadow emerged from the brush and the man grew still. The shadow spoke calmly and softly. “Hello man. You are quite the creature. You are indeed many powerful and wonderful things. However, I am Death. And I am here to take you away. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it to stop me, or convince me otherwise. Come along, now.”
Right as Death reached for the man, to take him away, the man encountered his last visitor. Like Death, this visitor was also a shadow, but this one much brighter. It was filled with so many happy things: people, places, stories, moments, things that had happened to him along his journey through the forest. The man smiled.
Some of the happy things he saw he did not remember. Those were the times when he was being too mighty, fierce, noble, or even intelligent, to notice anything else going on.
“Come along, now.”