There once was a town high up in the mountains and in it lived a thousand people. The people were decent, hard-working folk who lived entirely by the clock, ever watchful and mindful of what they should be doing at certain hours of the day in accordance with the town’s strict customs. One of these prescribed that children, teenagers and even young adults were to be seen and heard at all times. This was to safeguard against them venturing up the treacherous peaks surrounding Lost Canyon, which was strictly prohibited because everyone who had done so vanished when they reached the other side, never to be seen or heard from again.
Lost Canyon terrified the locals. Mothers, fathers and grandparents in particular were constantly filled with dread, and each had their own negative expectations and wild imaginings of what terrors might await their children, who were very curious to know the truth about it all.
Some of the churchgoers thought it led straight to the pits of Hell, its sheer presence being a sort of morality test or triumph of the will, but most associated it with their deepest fears and darkest nightmares. A small number took a more practical approach of simple acceptance, believing the canyon was just an unpleasant part of life that they had to endure and there was nothing they could do about it, except avoid the place at all costs.
For Sadie, a little girl of eleven years, whose parents belonged to the latter school of thought, the whole situation was a constant cause for annoyance. She loved to climb and feel the wind whipping about her and, as she ascended higher and higher, that sense of achievement and wonder at the world. She had already dragged her reluctant father over all the hills and mountains of the region. Those guarding Lost Canyon were the only ones she had never even dared to mention; the oppressive fear of it had been passed down and drilled into her from as early as she could remember.
The worst thing was that Sadie’s house was located right at the foot of one of these steep ridges that enclosed Lost Canyon, an unfortunate daily reminder of what could never be, and she was often found gazing out the window in a state of melancholic yearning. Sometimes she would gasp in surprise, “Mum, mum, come quick and listen, can you hear it?” Louise, her mother, would reply, “Oh Sadie, please stop that silly nonsense and come away from the window, you have homework and housework to do”.
Sadie was not convinced though. She swore she could hear a loud noise coming from that exact direction, it seemed like the most awful band she had ever heard, and the sound of it drifted over now and again, in a disjointed tempo. As the years went by, it became more complete in her mind, always in the background, but eventually, no matter how hard she tried to block it out, it wouldn’t go away. It played on an imaginary loop in her head over and over again.
It wasn’t until her sixteenth birthday that she thought to herself, “I’ve had enough of this, I’m going to find out the truth for myself once and for all.” She felt a little braver on this day, and was fed up with what had become a boring, but safe existence.
After she had gone to bed, and was sure her parents were asleep, she crept out before first light with a tingle of anxious excitement shivering through her bones. It was an easier climb than anticipated – she had started off with all of those scary premonitions that the townsfolk warned about invading her thoughts – by the time she had ascended a hundred metres though, all of her anxieties had subsided. She was free to be completely herself.
When she reached the top and peered over the edge of the precipice, however, she realised the misperception of the town and all of its inhabitants. For she saw the whole truth was not so terrifying or chaotic. In fact it was rather peaceful as she watched the scene unfold below with her own eyes.
The people of this world were dancing, as merry as can be, and Sadie made her way down to meet them with the utmost joy, for they were already waiting for her as they waited for all of the people of her town to do the same.
Fear spreads more fear. Love breeds only love… But we must all shed that fictional ‘prison’ of conditioning that we inherit after we are born in order to truly find ourselves and live uninfluenced by what has gone before, unhindered by the ‘he said, she said’ or the should-a, would-a, could-as. Don’t waste a second more, start living NOW! Acknowledge your fears, but realise how silly and make-believe they actually are, this way you might just have a chance of fearlessness in the truest sense, for this is your world too remember, don’t allow any of it to be taken away…