There was something missing; the life I was living was a cage. Yes, the cage was comfortable — I had a good job, earning both money and respect — but I felt constrained, earthbound. In my spare time I began to climb hills and mountains, gradually conquering the highest peaks. For a time it was satisfying, even thrilling. The vistas I saw were vast, stunning, and far more expansive than my life in the city. But no matter how far I traveled, or how high I climbed, my boots were a prisoner to gravity still.
Then I remembered the hot-air balloon that had been sitting in a dark corner of an old barn. Maybe this was the answer. I unpacked it and read a book on how to use it. One fine morning — an April Sunday it was, I remember it clearly — I took my first flight. It was hard, toilsome work at first: the unpacking and laying out, fixing the tethers, lighting the burner. But it was also exhilarating. From that day onward I rose into the sky as often as I could. Yet still I remained bound to the ground, held there by my lack of skill and, I admit, by my lack of courage.
Then my Master arrived. He appeared quietly one morning just after I had returned to earth. He said, “I have been watching you and see that you share my love for the skies. I may be able to guide you higher if you would like.” I quickly agreed, though I was a little skeptical of this long-haired, dark-skinned man. But he soon showed me how to cut the limiting lines, to fly high, and to land gently. Week by week we went up and up, laughing with pleasure, smiling with joy. It was wonderful, but the delight slowly began to fade.
“You are no longer satisfied with these little hops, I see,” the Master said one day. “When you really want to leave the confines of gravity, I will take you higher. But you will have to be willing to leave behind the limitations of your old life. Call me when you are ready.”
I tried to return to my job, my routine, my golden cage. It felt so small after I had seen the skies, and one day I was ready.
We had to use another kind of balloon, one that could fly above the clouds to the very limits of the atmosphere. This was what I had been seeking, a place where cities and factories faded away, where even roads and hills became invisible. As we ascended higher we began to see the curvature of the earth, and the fancy-frozen borders of nations seemed to be nothing more than a cruel joke. The whole earth, the hills and forests, all mankind became one. We went on for days and weeks, until the concept of time became meaningless. But one day we had to descend, hitting the rocks with a jolt. I wept, and the Master laughed.
“Come,” he said. “Let us leave this tiny blue ball forever, and merge with the stars.” I remembered my job, my stocks, my family, and fear overcame me. He looked at me deeply, raising an eyebrow in his gentle, questioning way. Then I knew with a certainty that this, only this, was what I yearned for. I bowed my head and knelt at his feet, and as he softly touched my breast, my breath escaped and ceased.
Look toward the center of the galaxy if you would know my path. If you, too, yearn to fly, the Master will surely come to you one day.
In joyful expansion,