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A Memoir of Mountains

I was. I am, and I will be.

By Relentless Kindness LilaPublished 5 months ago 24 min read

A Memoir of Mountains

By: R.K. Lila

Part One

I was born from the belly of a tyrannical God. She is majestic and beyond control. Some believe her name to be Pele. Within her womb, the heat was an inferno capable of elemental bonding and unparalleled strength. She is worthy of all the gems that could ever be prized and she has worn them all.

I opened my eyes after being forced into this world. Still dependent on my mother I grew quickly at first, then quite slowly. The pressure to reach for the stars pushed me higher still. My mother trusted I was enough and began to let go. Although I knew it was natural, the lack of her warmth was sudden and the contrasting cold hardened me.

I was as I was intended to be. I was strong, stable, and wide. Little did I know I would be responsible for building cities, roads, houses, and art. I held firm, supplied safety, and inspired many to remain grounded in chaos. Each piece of me used for another's gain was a source of pride as I became invaluable. The winters regularly brought soft white blankets of snow layered heavily upon me. The serenity I found during this time gives me such memories of peace.

I relaxed a little as the snow began to melt into spring. The cracks that had formed from the chill released the tension and parts of me fell away. Old fears or emotions that were not useful during the winter were shrugged off and rolled toward the meadow down below.

Spring brought more life to my callused shell and if others knew how much I delighted in wildflowers perhaps they would think me quite soft. I desired to touch one so badly that I leapt from the perch atop my peak. An ounce of the force that my mother holds coursed through me as I was taken captive by the momentum. My passion sent me careening down the mountain, uncontrollably devouring everything in my path. I crushed every flower along the way. Even the animals ran and feared me. Never had I felt such power. I found myself slowing and came to a stop far past any of the boulders that had fallen before. I was now in the meadow. I caught my breath and heard a familiar voice.

“It’s all right now, take a deep breath,” said a voice, so familiar to my own that I thought it was in my head.

I followed the instructions almost involuntarily; I took a deep breath and my awareness began to return to a cool state. I looked around and saw the disaster I had created in my wake. I not only crushed every beautiful flower along the way but I was about half of the size I was when I jumped and pieces of myself lay in my path as if pointing directly at me for the blame.

I felt angry. No, I felt… embarrassed. No, I felt ashamed. I wanted to be closer to the flowers so badly that I just leapt, thinking they would make space for me, would want me, or at least just let me sit with them. But it was too much. I was too violent and destroyed everything I touched. Why couldn’t I have just been different? Why couldn't I have been like a bird that landed softly nearby and drank water from their petals?

“What is wrong with me?” I shouted.

“You are just as you are” that voice responded again playfully.

Furious at the light-hearted, seemingly flippant remark, I allowed the crack on my left to break open and reveal my core with a shout.

“Are you okay, friend?” it asked

“What have I done? I never should have smelled those flowers. I never should have envied those birds. I am not okay, and I am nothing like what I wanted to be. I am so broken I can’t imagine what will happen now.”

“Well, that is how you know you will see some amazing new things. You know, if you had stayed up there you would never get a chance to see a river. Have you ever seen a river?”

“Who are you?”

“I am you and you are me.”

“I don’t understand,” I said with agitation.

“Each spring, the versions of yourself that you are ready to let go of fall down here, but we all remain a part of you and you a part of us. You see?” it replied playfully.

“I don’t get it.”

“Come on now, surely you can understand. Let me explain it this way. Your purpose and value do not change whether we are connected as one whole Mountain or in pieces as Boulders. Isn’t the ‘matter’ of us the same whether you are up there on your perch or down here as you are now? You have experienced existence as a steadfast Mountain and now you have an opportunity to have an experience as a Boulder and this is not the end. You will see. Imagine where we will go from here! We as a mountain remain still, very important! We as boulders begin to explore our slopes. Would you like to know more? After all, there is a lot more to learn.”

“I just want to go back up to my perch where I could see everything and not have caused all this damage.”

“It is painful to leave what you have known, but your purpose and value is greater than just the sum of our parts. Do you understand?”

“No. So, will I get to be with flowers or not?”

“Do you want to be with flowers?”

At that very moment, I felt a raindrop, then another. As the drops turned to many, I felt as if they were washing the shame from me.

“Very much,” I whispered and settled down into the wet soil to rest.

There I slept.

Part Two

One day I heard the pitter patter of little feet and peeked out of the dirt. The meadow was so green and the seeds were sprouting. Sweetly smelling sprouting seeds and the rain-soaked dirt brought me to life. I looked around to see a small young deer munching on the leaves of a young aspen tree that would now likely not grow. I sighed but felt thankful to be in the meadow. As I was giving thanks to the sun, I heard the voice again.

“Well, hello sleepy head,” the voice said.

“You are still here?” I asked, mostly surprised but probably sounding annoyed.

“Oh, yeah. You knocked me loose but I'm just off to your right; can you see me? I think the high-flow season may take me this year though.”

“High flow season…?”

“So, around the time that the eleventh full moon comes around, that river over there will swell up and eventually I can go for a ride. I’m just about close enough now, thanks to you.”

“Oh, that is a river over there!” I said excitedly. “I have never been so close to a river before. Is that what that sound is? I love it!”

“It is quite provocative, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know what that means but I never want to live without it again.”

“Yes, this meadow has many advantages. Did you see the Marigolds are in bloom? Their roots will find their way to you soon and they will bring a sweet yellow flower to ya. I think you will like it here.”

“Really, I could truly be amongst the flowers here?”

“You will meet those Marigolds but also Poppies and Lupins. Golden Alexanders and Globe Gilias are fun, and we can smell them well. You’ll love the Lily of the Valleys; they grow over there amongst the trees for shade most of the time.”

With the sunshine on my face and a friend to introduce me to flowers, I felt a sense of bliss. I felt my cracks absorbing moisture, sunlight on my surfaces, and my internal crystalline matrix responding. I was going to be okay, actually, I might even be happy! Time passed and little by little my shame was covered with grasses, foxglove, beardtongue, smooth aster leaves, and berry bushes. I found myself embraced by a luxurious layer of soil that held me tightly.

I was visited by furred animals of both claw and hoof. Animals whose long tongues came out quickly to snatch little winged ones from the air. Animals that couldn’t keep warm would sunbathe with me and tell me jokes as they did their pushups. Winged animals with the softest, most beautiful feathers would come by to tell us stories of all they saw that day. While experiencing life in the meadow, I realized I was neither alone nor the most important part of this mountain. High up on my perch, it was easy to forget because I loved communing with the wind. But here I have so many new friends. I was grateful.

That summer, I had so much fun I didn’t realize it was changing into fall until the newest flowers and the trees began to say goodnight. Leaves yellowed, flowers shot out their seed to sow their return, and it seemed even in the meadow winter was known to bring stillness.

“Should I be preparing differently for the winters down here?”

“Well, it depends. Do you want to stay put or do you want to go with the river?”

“I would like to stay and greet everyone when they wake up next spring.”

“Well then, you are going to want to stay deeper in the soil and behind that root you got your foot on. I am planning to go this year. I hope you don’t mind.”

“I have learned so much from you. But I think I understand now that you are me and I am you, so as you adventure I will be with you! And as I sit you are also here within me.”


With that, we sat together knowing all we could do was enjoy each other's company.

Sure enough, the river soon began to swell and my other was rolled away on the ride of a lifetime. I saw many others rolling along with such force and glee. I knew one day I would like to do the same. However, the meadow was fantastic. I sat for centuries greeting so many new friends and feeling full of love that I eventually found gratitude for my blunderous leap from my perch. That shame was nothing compared to the joy I felt now that marigolds had grown upon me. Together, we created such a rapturous site that humans clamored up my sides to be with us. I watched the humans age and evolve and develop tools to use. Those technologies advanced as their intellect and desire for knowledge grew. I sat and they came to hunt, to play, to rest, to give thanks, and to think. It was delightful.

During one summer storm, a sharp crack of lightning split my tree friend and it exploded, splinters raining down. Their roots are what held me in place and under their shade I found refuge. I knew the winters would be different from then on. After one more great storm year, I knew I would be headed to ride the river in as little as 100 years. I watched the rings around the moons, followed the stars, and counted the swells of the stream. On the 98th swell, I began to tell my friends farewell. I was finally ready to go for a ride down the river.

A winter storm came with force. It had already snowed a great deal and the wet rain on top of that made it clear that it was finally my year! I worked up my courage and waited for the river to rise to meet me. Finally, I was engulfed and propelled downstream, meeting conflict on all sides. That storm ended and I was dispatched along with others as the river turned west. I sat once more, making new friends and learning new things only to be swept away again 500 years later. Seemed like a short time to make friends but I quickly learned that the smaller I got, the more often I got to ride. I stopped avoiding conflict and allowed the river to smooth my edges and after many centuries I was a beautiful, smooth sight to behold!

I got to see waterfalls form and erode away, I got to see a canyon born as we cut through the soft sandstone below. I felt like a team with the river as we paved the way and nourished vast landscapes so beautiful that we took turns getting discarded just to sit and enjoy a respite from time to time.

I noticed one day that the water felt a little different. I was much smaller and at times I felt so light that I could stay suspended in the large flows if I wanted to. Turns out we were now by the sea and an amount of salt water was mixed in with the fresh water during the summer season. I was surprised to find out that I would not be riding in the river much longer. My other had never told me what was next. I guessed I would just go with the flow…

Part Three

I must have gotten tangled up in some roots along the bank because I found myself covered in mud and no longer in the flow. I was ready to rest and felt grateful for the chance to sleep. My dreams included memories of migrating birds and extraordinary humans with soft feet bound in hides who visited me on my perch high up on top of my mountain self.

I dreamed of the sweet-smelling flowers in the meadows that made me laugh and changed their names from time to time. I dreamed of the fish that depended on me to shelter their young and little creatures that sought me out for refuge from a predator. I dreamed of all the years I had been a source of stability for others and it made me proud. I also realized that my size was not what it used to be and I had cracks filling with water and winters weren’t as cold.

I woke up after what felt like a few quick millennia to an iron-tipped tool striking me and pulling me up to the light. How long had I been asleep? Everything looked so different from the meadow. Where was I?

“Ooooooo, look here. This is a good one,” I heard a human say.

I was now small enough to be held. I was surprised; the warmth from their hands was astonishing.

“You’re right, I bet that is one, do ya think so? Wash it off, let's open it.”

I was plunged over and over into refreshing water, then brought out and wrapped in a wonderfully warm cloth of fur that they used to scrub me clean. Goatskin, from the smell of it.

“It's much bigger than the last one we found. It'd be real good if it was one, huh? You ready to open it?”

The small human jumped excitedly twice then leaned over to see me with his hands on his knees and said, “Da’, I’m gonna make earrings out of it for mum!”

“Well, do ya’ want the honors then?” the older human said, handing the little one a tool.

“YEAH!” Whack, WHACK!

“Oh, goooosh. It's gorgeous, isn't it? This is the best one yet.”

“Wow, just good, good job, a clean break! Keep both sides up now, don't drop it.”

I had been cracked open. Deep in my core I had grown crystals so beautiful that I couldn’t help but send gratitude out to my mother. The glee and joy that finding me brought these humans made me feel exceptional. All the pressure I felt, the struggles, cold winters, scorching summers, and centuries of erosion had formed something beautiful within me.

I was taken to their shelter. Two dark purple shiny crystals were fashioned into earrings and four onto a necklace, as well as a ring to match. The mother shone brighter than the jewels when she saw them and tried to get up to hug the boy who had fashioned them. The father caught her as she weakly sat back down. Both hugged her as they all laughed and then cried together. Getting up, the father prepared some water for washing. Once refreshed, they brushed and braided her hair while telling their favorite stories.

More people came to the home and brought with them children. The warmth in the dwelling wasn’t coming just from the fire in the hearth. At night, all fourteen found deep rest, as if that one room was all they ever needed. In the morning, they quietly rolled up their beds and let their mom sleep in until she woke casually. They would bring her warm drinks and she would insist on grinding the grain.

They did this each night and morning. Wash up, braid hair, laugh, sleep. Wake, clean, and bring drinks to mother. Until one dusk when I didn’t see their mother come in from the day. I didn’t see her again. I knew what had happened because pieces of me were buried with her, honored to adorn her. I felt privileged to walk with her spirit as she found her resting place.

The father polished and prized the larger pieces of me that remained, a memory of the mother and youngest child's joy to be with him on the day they found me. I sat and watched the family throughout their lives and pieces of me were given as gifts for many generations. I was given to friends and family, stolen, lost, and forgotten. Those portions have their own stories that diverge from mine. But I am only responsible for telling you how I ended up here.

Part Four

I see now that I could have been washed out to sea and had another kind of adventure; however, I wouldn’t have seen the life of humans as I did once I was found. How lucky I was to have crystals at my core. There is a piece of me buried with each member of that first family. There are pieces of me in several museums today. Centuries after I lived amongst that dear family, however, I was most alive in one crown.

The piece of me that makes it to you comes from that crown. In my journey from the countryside, I witnessed centuries of human advancement but also periods of mishap and chaos. At times I was misplaced, forgotten, or hidden away. I found myself prized as a jewel. Used as an announcement of status, I confirmed who should hang their heads low and who could hold theirs high. Of course, there was only one head that had the air of a mountain. It was because I sat upon that head that he carried himself so.

Although the power of authority is alluring, humans are much happier with less of it. Each person that dared to wear the crown had me - the child of the tyrannical Fire Mother God, the mountain, the careening boulder, the fearless smooth river stone, whose gems were desired by all - resting aloft their soft-skinned shoulders. They had no chance to match the abhorrent beauty I held within. One by one they fell short of grace. The more they sought me, the faster they fell by their little swords.

Like ravens captivated by shiny objects, rulers from increasingly distant realms came seeking my prestige. At one point, I was to be transported to a new land where new opportunities awaited. History will say that the ship was mishandled but the truth is that pirates came pursuing. They devoured the ship but in their bloodlust and stupidity, they never found the case full of jewels and gemstones. As I sank, I laughed at the irony that I finally made it to the sea, where I was to remain for years.

I rested in my iron-plated box until the day I felt a shake and heard a muffled noise. Clicking and clanging, the box was lifted from the ocean floor. I felt anxious. It had been so long since I saw the sun; I missed it dearly. A while passed and the next thing I knew the door was being opened and the bright light reflected off of me in fantastical fashion. The men, with no shirts on but wearing scuba flippers, opened a large bottle and sang in celebration. Just as the cork popped, a clumsy fat man slipped and fell into the table leg, causing the table to lunge to one side and the open box to crash to the floor of the boat. Out spilled every precious stone, every secret held tight by that one offspring of a king someone once knew.

I heard someone shout furiously, a strand of expletives that seemed appropriate at the time.

The man was now bumbling around trying to right the situation by scooping us all back into the box. Many of us saw an opportunity for liberation and fell out of the crown as if slipping from chains of incarceration. I did my best to stay put and not be seen, wedging myself into a crack between the planks of the floor. I gave thanks to the other gems and greeted the sunlight, determined to never be captured by someone who sought power again. I waited silently until a young boy was sweeping the deck. I allowed him to brush me off the side of the boat into the ocean once more.

They were much shallower, warmer waters and it didn’t take long for me to sink at all. I was in a whole new environment with the most vibrant, colorful fish. I was among other beautiful creatures once again. The grace and balance with which they moved was admirable, to say the least. I allowed myself to be rolled and rubbed by currents and sand until I was so small and light I could truly float. I swirled around like shiny glitter among the fish for years then was finally deposited upon the beach. The tide went out and for the first time in ages, I was in full sun and just a large piece of sand drying out with the rest of them.

I turned to the others around me and asked where they had come from. You wouldn’t believe some of the stories I heard. A lot of them came from rivers I had never heard of and were so much older than me. They had already been to the beach once and after countless years in formations of dunes, they found themselves locked within sandstones that purified water so well they had helped sustain millions of humans who drank from it. They ended up at that beach after storms carried them through urban adventures every time it rained. The shockingly juicy stories were told by the seashells and the crabs. One particular crab was the most bombastic and a few friends and I clung to him fervently for entertainment.

I thought I was just getting the swing of things on the beach when you and your dog sat next to me. You looked so sad; no, I would say despondent. I recalled times I felt that way and realized you were unaware that you were not alone. I now appear as just a nicely colored piece of sand but I wished you felt that you were beside the child of a tyrannical fire God or that you sat with a majestic mighty mountain. I wished the sand would remind you of the journey which rivers take. I wished so much goodness for you as I admired the humble face of a gentle soul. You were beautiful.

As I sat wishing you all the warmth and strength I could ever know, you laid down and you rested your cheek upon your hands, and your hands upon mine. I clung to your hand hoping my spirit would comfort you. I was not the only one. Many of us who journeyed here over incredible distances and unimaginable lengths of time are now stuck to you as the sand on the beach. You turned over abruptly on your blanket and let out a large sigh. With that, I noticed tears begin to fall from your eyes and you let yourself cry. It was as though something had just broken open and released all the tension that had been holding you together.

You began to rub your hands together to dust off. I held on tight to you, hoping to never let go. I got lucky and when you wiped away the tears I got onto your hair. You stood, rolled up your blanket, called the dog to your side and together we walked around for hours. I sang songs to you and gave thanks for you. Your dog greeted another with the tip of his wet nose, bringing a smile to your face. I watched you enjoy the rest of the day. Eventually, the strand of hair on which I clung came untucked from behind your ear. I feared my departure. I gave you a quick kiss on your cheek before falling to the ground. No longer in your warmth, I sat as you walked away.

I was no longer on the beach but in a town where there were a lot of people. I ended up on the road and seemed to be getting even smaller. I was swept to the side of the road by a street-sweeping machine but before settling down, a gust of wind carried me away. I had never been able to fly before. My next adventure was going to be airborne.

I was small enough and dry enough now that with each large gust of wind, I found myself amongst others headed east. We leap-frogged from place to place until one day a huge storm system picked us up and carried us miles away where it discarded us in heaps, piles, no, dunes. We danced around with the flow of the air, the same as we did in the ocean below the waves. I moved and sang the songs I had sung to you, remembering the smile you had when I left you. I hoped you found joy as well. Somehow, I knew you would.

I remember the others on the beach telling me stories about what would happen after dancing with the dunes but I found myself suddenly aware of the unknown. I had enjoyed my journey so much that I forgot to pay attention to my path. Was I where I was supposed to be? What happens next? I inhaled deeply and remembered my first Other telling me that when it’s not clear what is next, at least you know you will see some amazing new things.

I think about the journey ahead and bet it is just as robust a story as the one behind me. The smaller I become the less alone I feel. I will join others and make some useful sandstone. I will adorn homes and fireplaces, and I will eventually make my way back to the beach. I will listen to other’s stories and tell them mine.

I am a child of a tyrannical fire God, a majestic mountain, a forest meadow's favorite boulder, a playful river’s champion, a geode that bestowed honor upon a loving family, a jewel imbued with a frenzied desire that bent the heads of powerful men. I am a free-floating piece of glitter that danced with gorgeous fish and kissed your cheek on a beach. I dance with the dunes, fly among the clouds, and fall with monsoons. I am all of these things still.

I will find gratitude and acceptance for these arid lands I find myself in. The smell, the sounds, and the most resilient of living things will be with me on my next journey. I will not live in such a way that my physical size defines me. Although I had great love for you, I knew that you would think of me only as I am now; engulfed in the desert’s parched silence, nothing but another grain of sand in the wind.

nature poetryinspirationalheartbreakfact or fiction

About the Creator

Relentless Kindness Lila

Born in a beautiful town in Arizona where the cowboys and the hippies meet. I walk with one foot in front of the other, exploring the difference between fear and freedom. I am growing into a fearless force of relentless kindness.

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Comments (2)

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  • Test5 months ago

    Well Written My Dear...... Great One

  • Test5 months ago

    Incredible storytelling. I really love the way you describe. Keep sharing well content with us

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