Little Leaf’s Journey
It was Autumn. One by one, the leaves turned color and fell from the tree. Soon, only a few leaves were left. The weather turned cold and stormy. The littlest leaf clung to its branch.
“I don’t want to fall,” he said plaintively. “I like this tree. I am happy here.”
He held on even more tightly. Soon a hard rain began to fall. Now there were only two leaves left on the branch. The other leaf fell off and fluttered to the ground. The littlest leaf watched it fall. Soon the leaf lay still on the ground among all the other leaves, one big wet mass.
“I don’t want to be on the ground with the others, wet and cold.” Little Leaf said, “I want to be different. I want to go places.”
Suddenly, a gust of wind tore through the tree. Little Leaf clung to his branch. But it was no use. His stem broke off the branch and he blew away in the wind.
The wind was strong. Little Leaf did not fall. Instead, he flew through the air, twisting and turning in the wind, carried farther and farther from his tree. Little Leaf was afraid. What would happen to him? Would he ever see his beloved tree again?
Finally the wind calmed and Little Leaf was able to straighten up. He looked around him. Above him were blue sky and some puffy white clouds. Below him were green meadows dotted with colorful flowers.
“This is fun,” Little Leaf decided. “ I am going to see the world." He grew excited as he flew over fields and farms, rivers and forests. But then he saw a mountain looming in front of him.
“Uh oh,” he exclaimed. “Now what? Surely I will crash into the mountain.”
But the wind carried him around the mountain and into a green valley. It flew over a town. Little Leaf could see a park with trees. Then the wind slowed. Little Leaf drifted slowly down, landing in the wet grass.
“I wanted to be different,” he thought miserably. “And now look. I am wet and cold and alone in a strange place.”
Little Leaf was very tired after his long journey. He fell asleep. He slept a long time. Then one day he was awakened by the song of a bird. A little gray bird sat on a branch above him, singing his heart out. Little Leaf smiled and stretched. The warm sun felt good on his back. He looked at himself. His colors had faded and he was now a solid brown. He didn’t care. “There is no one here to admire me anyway,” he said to himself.
Little Leaf felt good. But then he thought,
“I wonder what is to become of me? Will I lie here forever?”
Little Leaf was not ready to give up. He had not yet seen the world.
“I must fly again,” he said.
Little Leaf waited and waited. As he lay on the grass, many animals came by, walking on him or burrowing under him to find seeds and grubs. Little Leaf watched and listened. Soon he knew all the animals and their habits. Humans came to sit on the bench near him and as he listened to their voices, he began to understand their speech.
“I am becoming educated,” he thought excitedly one day. But he still yearned to fly once again.
One bright sunny day, a gust of wind picked Little Leaf up from the ground and carried him high into the blue sky.
“Hurray, I am taking wing once again,” he shouted. He looked around excitedly.. Above him were the sky and clouds as usual. But below him, the scene kept changing.
Day after day, Little Leaf drifted with the wind. Some days, he drifted slowly and lazily; other days were turbulent and he was tossed to and fro until he didn’t know which way was up. Sometimes, the wind died down and Little Leaf fell to the ground. But the wind would always find him and lift him into the air once again.
One day, when the wind was blowing hard, Little Leaf saw a mountain looming ahead. Surely, he would crash, he thought. This time the wind drove him straight towards the mountain. Little Leaf tried to lift himself higher on the wind. Somehow he managed. He pushed himself slowly up until he was at the top of the clouds. Here the wind was still strong but not as turbulent. Little Leaf exulted as he watched the mountain peak, glistening with fresh snow, pass beneath him.
“I did it,” he shouted in the wind. “Now I can do anything!”
But another day, he landed in the middle of a lake. He became soggy and heavy. “Surely I will sink,” he thought heavily. But then he remembered the mountain. “I can do this. I just need to think light airy thoughts.”
Little Leaf concentrated on his best memories of flying. He felt himself lifting and soon he was aloft once more, borne on a gentle breeze.
Little Leaf travelled on and on. He saw valleys, deserts and rivers. He saw towns and cities. He even flew over the vast wide ocean. Whenever he landed, he lay still and observed and in so doing, he learned much. He became buffeted and torn. His edges were gray and ragged. But Little Leaf was happy.
Now Little Leaf was tired. He was ready to rest. One day, he drifted with the wind over a small town. The wind stopped and Little Leaf drifted to the ground, landing on a bench near a large tree in the park. Little Leaf fell asleep. When he awakened, an old human couple was sitting on his bench. They held hands and talked quietly, as they fed the birds at their feet.
“They seem happy,” Little Leaf said. “I wonder if they have seen the world and now want to rest.”
He thought a moment. “I have seen the world and I am tired. It is time for me to rest as well.”
He looked at the tree above him. It was just like the tree where he was born. He felt comfortable.A light breeze blew on him and placed him gently on the earth below. A leaf fell from the tree and landed beside him. Then another leaf fell and another. Little Leaf liked the company. He no longer felt the need to be alone, to fly and to see the world. He just wanted to lie quietly among the other leaves.
Little Leaf lay day after day on the ground, quietly resting. Sometimes he slept; other times he lay quietly remembering. Little by little, he broke apart until little pieces of him lay in the dirt with the other leaves. Finally he became part of the soil himself, feeding the worms and the seeds below.
Little Leaf’s long journey was done.
With the wind we come
And with the wind we go,
Where, whither and why
Is not for us to know.
To account in learned thought,
In science, philosophy, religion,
Is quite beyond our reach,
All words and no precision.
Ours is not to know,
But to accept and live,
To become what we can be,
To learn what can be learned,
To do what can be done,
To live long and right fully,
In time, content to go.
With the wind we come
And with the wind we go,
And why we'll never know.
But twixt the come and go,
Life is ours to live,
To do with as we choose.
An Epigram a Week:
To drift with the wind is for the birds.
Aloneness is existential light,
Loneliness is individual blight.
All goes as the water flows and the wind blows.
Here but briefly and gone forever.
To do takes effort and time, to wish takes neither.