Once upon a time, there was a young person who was ready to set out from their village for the first time, and as is so often the case, the village gathered the night before to feast and offer advice.
“What you need, young one,” the old man said, “is a good hat. If you have a good hat, then the sun will fear to burn you, the rains will avoid your face unless you turn your head upward, and anyone who passes will know that you are a person to be reckoned with. Here. Take mine – it’s never let me down, and it won’t let you down, either.”
“Nonsense. Why you really need,” said the old woman, “is a stout walking stick. With a stout walking stick, you can climb hills with ease. You can check for dangers ahead. And a really good one will remind you of the strength of your spine when you might have forgotten. Here. Take this one. It has served me well, and may it do the same for you. ”
“They’ve both got it wrong, you know,” hissed the sinuous snake (for this was the sort of traveler who listened to advice from all sorts of beings, not just those that looked like them). “No, what you really need on your journey is a fine cloak. A cloak will keep you warm at night, will be a shelter from the falling rains. And best of all, when the time comes and you’ve outgrown it or it just doesn’t suit you? Why, you can just slither right out of it and leave that cloak by the side of the road lickety-split. That’s what you need, sure enough.”
“A good hat, a fine cloak, and a stout walking stick. Those are all wonderful things,” whispered the young traveler’s dream. “But what you really need – all you really need – is the Firebird’s feather. Keep it near your heart, to crack open with passion, or keep it near your head, to set your thoughts aflame with inspiration. Wherever you keep it, keep it, and it will lead you where you most need to go.”
And so the traveler, armed now with the wisdom of elders and animals and dreams, set out on a grand adventure.
(for more about this little writing project, click here)