Art & Lit

Leavers

cliffs

You rise above yourself and look down at the paths below you. There are two: the one you think you want and the other one. You focus in on the former, imagining a smooth, comfortable surface, stopping-places filled with sumptuous food and sophisticated parties, perhaps even a crowd gathering to cheer you on your way. Instead, you find a rocky uphill track with little opportunity for rest, looming precipices into which you could easily fall from exhaustion, and lurking nay-sayers thirsty for a chance to proclaim that you are the wrong type of person to take this path. And yet at the higher points, momentary respites of great luxury await you for your toil.

You decide to compare it with the other one. This one is safer. The cliffs are less dramatic; the surface is flatter and gentler on your feet. You pass along it in pleasant anonymity, free from the nay-sayers, who are noisily preoccupied by their obsession with who is on the rockier path. You experience a warm sort of joy, not as exhilarating as the respites you found before, but more consistent and benevolent. You like this path and feel it likes you.

However, a deep part of you admires the triumph of conquering riskier terrain. You are going to have to commit permanently to one path, and you are battling between the kindly, homely voice that tells you the second path is healthier and the reckless, ruthless cry of your adventurous side. As so often happens, the louder voice wins out. To justify your decision, you peep at what waits at the end of each path. Both lead to countries in which you would be excited to live, but as you suspected, the rockier one opens on more spectacular vistas, rarer resources, and arms spread in welcome as the nay-sayers wither away.

You wake up and your memories of your dream are dim, but you know what it has done for you. You turn on your computer and accept your offer from Oxford University, before heading off to spend a day at school for almost the last time.

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