All journeys, no matter where they start, at some point arrive at a guardian who demands proof the hero or heroine is worthy to move onward.
Fearfully staring at my threshold guardian, all spiky tentacles angrily jabbing the air, swinging blade-sharp rapiers, puncturing reality with an intensity that mesmerizes me, I wonder.
Are you good or evil? A henchman of an unknown antagonist? Or are you an animal that simply exists, neutral to all but your own nature? Are you the beast that asks me a riddle, and then gleefully consumes my living soul as my body writhes in agony because I did not speak aloud the correct answer?
Could you be my guide to help me through my trials? The sherpa who has been up and down the mountain so many times, your intimacy with the route is your shield? The all-knowing angel who sees my value before I even know it myself and are tasked to help me in the finding?
Trembling, I wonder if you are the worst of all. The embodiment of my fears, obsessions, and hatreds. The Guardian that always presents yourself as the mirror image of the one I detest the most. Peering into that looking glass, I see me, the disappointed, the distracted, the diminished. There, staring back at me, is the only person or thing that will forever keep me from starting my journey, let alone seeing its end. This Guardian casually flings my misunderstood emotions and meaningless dreams into the ether, and, as indifferently, watches them land with no effect upon a world that confirms my valueless life.
I think you the third.
Now, Guardian, let me tell you what I do see. You, the Past, desperately looking for a reason to stay relevant; sending your warped appendages digging, searching for sustenance; waving madly for attention; swinging demanding fists for retribution against slights and insults; cajoling then arguing when your indignations go unheard.
You are an incomplete death.
I carried you for so long. Whatever purpose served, I was completely entangled. A familiar torment is still a type of comfort but one that eventually needs, if one chooses to live, an axe taken to it.
Enough. I no longer need that burden of tangled roots, molding rot, and stench of unresolved pain. Better I carry your memory on my journey. I’ll make that promise to you.
You tried to guard a way that is still treacherously threaded and knotted with my own-made stumbles that trip me in my tracks and bar my way forward.
Hear this. Be food and shelter for worms. Allow birds to rest in your embrace. May the seasons guide you back into the earth. You can’t guard anything anymore, because I know what you are now.
You are only a tree, blown over by a hard storm’s wind, because your roots were too shallow. You are only a dead tree now and no longer stand guard upon this road; and I have somewhere else to be.
To the journey’s end.