Dark and dusty, a sanctuary amongst the ruthless mountain beauty. The unforgiving peaks cut through the clouds and will of any who dare summit them. Drakensberg Mountain range is a cathedral of suffrage and unfathomable reward. Tears, laughs, and all in between. Embedded in this scenic hellscape is a cave, is a dark and dusty cave.
This hallowed hole offers protection from the relentless wind and bone-chilling air. It is the resting place of a weary traveler, where a boy, barely a man, makes his shelter from the harshness of the outside world. He stands there at the cave’s mouth. Looking out at the rain pounding on the rugged plateau of the mountain range. He knows it is impossible to continue with weather like this. He drops his bag, admiring the hole in the mountains he resides in. The black rock walls provide a feeling of stability yet roughness and pain. He enjoys it. He runs his hands across their smooth surface smiling.
The young man opens his bag and pulls out a pot and stove, preparing his meal for the day. He starts a fire with a small collection of sticks and cotton balls. He stares into the flames. He closes his eyes, taking a deep breath, then another, and another. He opens his eyes to reveal a melancholy face, longing. However, he looks back to the rocks again, and his smile returns once more.
“What are you cooking?” says the older man.
“Rice and beans.”
“Yeah, mine too.”
“Why are you in these mountains?”
“I’m summiting the peak. I’m summiting the tallest there is.”
“Because it’s hard. I want to do what is hard.”
The older man looks at him from across the flames. The lack of light discloses his face, but his eyes are ablaze. His eyes are the same as those that stare back at him, except they’re older, worn down, and tired.
“You think you will make it?” Asks the older man.
“I’m not sure, doubt has crept its way into my mind, and it’s spreading.”
“Don’t doubt yourself. Anyone can do it. Anyone can make it.”
“But why do it? Do you think you’ll get something out of it?”
“Do you think you’ll be saved?”
“You won’t.” Says the older man as he puts out his cigarette.
“Nothing is final. The crater you’re looking to fill, it’s not a crater at all. It’s a river. A river that ebbs and flows through time, never leaving you. Sometimes it’s calm. Other times it’s chaos, but it flows. That is all.
An elderly man sits on a rock against the cave wall, smiling at the older man. The young one is gone.
“What?” Asks the older man.
“You think you have it all figured out, right?”
“Not at all, kid, not at all.” The elderly man says with a smile.
“So what’s next for me then, where is the garden, where is the river leading to?”
“I don’t know.” He continues to smile.
“How could you not know?”
“We never do, there never was a destination son, just another river leading to another, and on and on.”
“So why go forward?”
“The view?” The older man barks.
“The view is one special sight, worth a thousand lifetimes. Those people, those moments, cherish and love them, it’s all that comes with you.”
The old man is alone. He takes one last bite of rice and beans before packing his bag and throwing it over his worn-out shoulders. He smiles again, walking to the mouth of the dark and dusty cave. He looks out at the sprawling mountains and rolling hills. The rain finally subsides, and the sun begins to peek through the clouds.