There once was a man who wished to prove his love to his god, the god of wind.
He thought hard for many weeks. How could he, just a man, prove his worth to the mightiest of gods?
The wind doesn’t care if you eat or sleep. It doesn’t care if you cut wood or read books. Doesn’t care if you fast for weeks or pray for months or meditate for years
He sometimes even wished that his god was water. It would be easy to please the god of water, he could simply give up bathing.
But how could he show the wind that he was worthy?
Then it struck him one day as he watched a leaf, played with by his god as it fell to the ground, twist and turn. Lift and drop. Spin. Then finally touch down.
He could give up breathing!
It wouldn’t be easy but he convinced himself that he could do it. Surely the wind god would love him for sharing the limited wind with others. To not take the wind within and corrupt it. To not alter the breeze or the scents of the air with his own breath.
He practiced daily. At first he could hold his breath only seconds. Then minutes. With each day he could go longer and longer. But there was a problem, even though he got to the point where he could hold his breath for record breaking times there always came a point where darkness crept in and he passed out. When he awoke he would be panting. Gulping down the air like it were food.
He cried at the thought of the darkness invading his spirit. Possesing him. Taking him away from his god and making him consume even larger amounts than he normally would.
But he persisted.
Day after day he would hold his breath, pass out, then awaken and start over until, one day, finally, his persistence paid off.
He held his breath until the darkness tempted him with sleep but pushed it away.
He fought with the darkness for what seemed an eternity until, at the verge of giving up, a bright light dispersed the darkness.
He felt warmed by the light. He smiled and he cried. The darkness would not win.
As he moved into the light the first thing he noticed was that he felt the wind differently. Smelled it differently. He moved through it in a different way. And he was saddened by this and found himself wishing he had spent more time in the presence of his god while he had the chance. But the sadness gave way to a slow moving joy and soon the joy consumed him and he was no more.
A friend of the man’s who checked on him from time to time was there at the last moments and witnessed the smile on the man’s face emerge then, silently, fade.
With a deep sigh, he said a short prayer then turned and walked towards home. He felt comfort in the warm night breeze. As he thought of his friend, no longer able to enjoy the presence of the wind, he breathed deep. Deeper than he ever had before. He swung his arms as he walked so he could enjoy the wind even more. He blew at the leaves as they fell in an effort to keep them aloft longer and he sang songs as loudly as he could.
As he did these things a slow moving joy came over him and soon he was consumed by it as if becoming one with the wind and he was happy.
Image: “The offerings of Cain and Abel” by Duncan Walker