Her ascent was marked with more visions out across the growing expanse of visible land and more affirmations of the power in her voice as she huffed and cursed and joyfully expelled sound into the open air. She marveled at the strength of her body, so much stronger than she had believed it to be before she embarked on this journey. She appreciated her legs as they pushed away at the ground, her lungs as they breathed in and out the precious air, her eyes as she looked out at the world around her with wonder and love for all she saw.
So it was almost disappointment that greeted her upon arriving at her destination- so much travel, so many epiphanies only to find herself here at such a familiar scene:
A flat expanse at the top of the rock, thin rugs lain around to soften the hard surface, and rows and rows of the enlightened spread out in front of her. Their rigid postures with straight back and high head, their hands holding mudras as they rested on their knees, their eyes mostly closed in that un-gaze they were trained to use. It was instantly intimidating and she faltered, slinking back and struggling with her thoughts.
That old voice came back- you can't do this, you can't be the enlightened person, you're not made of the same stuff. But she'd learned how to handle that now. Rather than fighting it she just let it rant. She breathed, listened to the sound of chanting, focused on her feet underneath her and her body holding firm and waited.
The voice- so full of anger and poison- rattled and ranted and spewed. And she listened. And, within a shorter time than she would have expected, it ran out of steam. The words ran out. And in the end, she was left with nothing more than that quieter voice she'd been hearing more and more. Its message was easy and clear: "Just breathe."
She set down her pack, took a seat behind the so-called enlightened masses (which part of her affirmed were there seeking the same exact things as her), closed her eyes, and breathed. But her body rejected the rigid stance. Too sore from the climb, too tired for the pose she fidgeted and fretted and moved. But just as she had with her mind she didn't react- she waited. She focused on her breath, on the stillness within her, and waited. And just as her mind had, her body calmed. She breathed.
She stayed there like that for what seemed like a long time. But she had no concept of how long, she didn't notice or care. She just breathed. And as she did, she noticed a change happen.
The swirl of thoughts and emotions that had erupted upon seeing everyone there seemed to dissipate, weaken and vanish. The preconceptions she had about why she was here, what she would do, and what it would all mean went away. And in their place she felt a calm, a renewed sense of purpose, and the same guiding voice that had been there all along.
You can be anything you want to be. You're not limited to who you were. You've changed so much since beginning this journey, how could you possibly presume to know where it will lead? Just listen, just watch with open eyes and mind, and you will see. You will see.
She opened her eyes and saw clearly. She saw the light surrounding all of them so far up on this mountain. She saw the elements which had brought them all there along that same path. She saw the sky and the clouds and the air and the ether and she breathed it all in.
Then she got up and started off to find the one she'd been seeking.