All That I Can Be

The day was cool. Fall had arrived and the leaves on oaks were turning when I just barely entered. It was a struggle getting this far. For the path I was walking kept getting steeper, turning from a hill into a mountain. The higher I got the cooler the temperature felt to my bare skin. As the elevation became greater the wind started to gently blow. As a result, the oak’s leaves began to gracefully descend to the ground.

Everything inside me said that I should have turned around long ago. But I couldn’t, my curiosity was getting the best of me, it was driving me, it was pushing and leading me at the same time. Somehow the fall colors and the cool breeze seemed to soothe the uneasy feeling I had, but not entirely. For as I drew closer the uneasy feelings grew stronger and stronger, almost to the point of dragging me to my knees making me give up. A million thoughts raced through my head, “You better go back now before it’s too late,” was only one.  The problem was, it was already too late to turn back. With the same force another thought penetrated the very essence of my being, saying, “You don’t have a choice, it is either do or die.” What was I to do? As I continued forward it was tough to put one foot in front of the other. Now, creeping out onto it I could not even keep one foot in front of the other. I could only inch forward, my chains dragging me down, trying to pull me backwards. Then another thought forced its way into my mind, “It would be useless to go back now. You are finally on the bridge of indecision; it is time to make up your mind.” Was I going to jump off or continue over? With tears running down my face I forced the words from my lips, “I am going to be all that I can be, I am going to cross-over what ever the cost.”

Standing on the bridge I saw and felt the surface to be not as steep as my previous trek. Being more level than I had been earlier, I was able to stand not having the backward pull of the chains as before. I looked to my left and to my right, the bridge was narrow and had a tall sturdy left railing. However, its right railing was short and un-sturdy, almost beckoning me to jump. Knowing that if I jumped, somehow, miraculously I would end up where I was before I began my journey, this was a small comfort. Weighing the possibilities of both outcomes I stood there, my face not completely dry from the tears, I almost wanted to be a child again, back in my mother’s arms. But this could not be, I was an adult now, I needed to make my own decisions not relying solely on my parents. I had to decide for myself now.

Standing there, I remembered the time it all began, the time I started to become a man. I recalled it was about six years earlier when my parents got the phone call, the call that change my life forever. On the bridge my knees began to weaken, so I quickly sat down the best I could on the narrow, rotting, and wearying bridge floor. Remembering the result of the call my parents got when I was fourteen could not be erased from my memory. I remembered when my parents hung up the phone they looked at me. “Why me?” I thought. I did not have a formal education, so I knew there could be not trouble from my school or my teachers. Then my father spoke, “Would you like to start working?” he asked me. I remembered that he also said that even though I was only fourteen, I was “…becoming a man.” I was excited and enthusiastic to start working and become a man at such a young age.

Coming back to reality, the bridge floor was continuing to weaken as sounds of wood creaking filled the air, I knew I needed to make a decision quickly. However, back to my family’s financial struggle my mind went. I could not remember a time where my family was comfortable. They were always living from paycheck to paycheck, barely making ends meet. But, if I jumped off the bridge now, I could be back with them; I could have their embracing arms around me again. It was not hard to remember when I started this journey my parents were semi-happy for me. They could not entirely embrace this journey because it went against years of traditional thinking. I was to be one of them, a normal everyday person within their mindset, but I wasn’t a normal everyday person. My parents were in a rut; they were satisfied with living paycheck to paycheck. I wasn’t, I wanted more than their life could offer me. However, breaking away from tradition meant some hardships were in store for me. Another thought pierced my mind, “You are not like them, and you were never like them nor will ever be.” I shot up to my feet straight like an arrow. I slowly started uttering the words, “I am going to be everything I can be.” At first I could only stutter them, but the more I repeated them the more fluent they became.

Finally the words were as sharp as a sword and as hard as bolt cutters. I started trudging on across the bridge repeating the words. Then, like a rod of lightening this thing illuminated my being. What was it? It broke off the chains that held me fast; I was now free, no longer weighed by the chains doubt and fear of change. What was that I heard? No more were the thoughts of hopelessness, but something was different, a new light sound entered my ears through my mind. A voice inside kept assuring me that I was going to make it across. I was now going to fulfill the dreams that once were in dissolution. I was finally going to be able to rise above the situations that held my parents captive. That thing which illuminated my being, what was it? I knew now what it was, it was a revelation, a knowing that what I was about to become was greater than what I ever would have been before now. A poor workman with visions stifled by tradition, this was I to be no more. But someone who’s vision broadened and free, this is who I was going to be. I then screamed at the top of my lungs, “I am going to be all that I can be,” as I ran across the bridge crumbling behind me.

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