A young boy strolled along the beach early on a sunny day.
His eyes and his spirit drank in the ocean waves, the warm sun, the blond sand, and the nearby plants and trees further from shore. The unseen creatures in the distant sky above and beneath the earth and water were his friends.
As he walked, he carried in one hand a small book, from which he occasionally paused to read. The book was another of his friends. It told a beautiful story. Both the story and the life around him helped him to understand who he was.
While it was still morning, as he paused to read a page from the story, he happened to gaze into the blue sky and saw a single cloud drift above him. He pondered it a moment, and just as he was about to resume reading, a large bird swooped down toward him from the cloud.
Not expecting the bird to mean him any harm, the boy held out his free hand to it. The bird ignored this invitation, and instead flew in closer and tried to wrest the book from the boy’s hand. The boy tried desperately to keep hold of the book, clutching it tightly to his chest. After a scuffle, the bird flew away with the book clenched in its talons.
Once the bird was gone, the boy realized the intense pain he felt was not only from the loss of the story. The bird’s sharp talons had left two grave wounds, one near his heart, the other near enough to one eye to leave his vision impaired.
Why, the boy wondered, would such a beautiful creature, a creature free to soar and glide among the clouds, have done something so injurious to him? Why wasn’t the bird – especially the bird – his friend, like the other creatures were?
With no answers to be found, the boy simply decided to continue walking. As the sun passed the midpoint of the sky and afternoon came, he glimpsed through his downcast and flawed sight something unusual in the sand, something small and fluttery that danced in the gentle breeze. It was a tiny scrap of torn paper! He thought it must be from his book, but the page color didn’t match and the print wasn’t right. And yet, the few words he could make out did seem to fit what he could remember of what he’d been reading in the book.
As he continued along, he saw another piece, and later another. Strewn at varying distances from each other, they dotted the shoreline as far into the distance as he could see. They were diverse and dissimilar shreds and scraps, as though they could not possibly have come from the same book, yet their bits of phrases seemed somehow to fit the same story that he could recall.
As the day grew dim, the pain of his wounds already beginning to ease somewhat, it took strained effort to see the scraps and to read them. Each time the boy retrieved and read a new shred of the story, he felt a fresh surge of sensation in his heart wound, followed by a sense of soothing. He resolved to spend whatever hours of light he had left learning who he was, from as many story scraps as he could find, and from the life around him.