Adam sat by the path on his own and waited. He knew the King and his men would come along the forest track this way. He wanted to greet them. Most of all, he wanted to listen to their tales and, perhaps, learn something.
Soon, he heard drumming, louder and louder. They were almost on top of him. He stood up without fear, his arm raised in greeting. The travellers halted, dismounted and, on the orders of the King, formed a circle. And this is the King’s story.
‘There was once a group of men, holding and supporting one another, bearing inwards; their weight swaying under the hot, morning sun. When one man cracked and flexed, the others held him firm in the circle. In time, the men turned to face outwards, their arms still linked, their palms open towards the sky. Each one of them then called out a greeting to the world – ‘The Land’, ‘A blessing on you all’ and ‘Safe, be’ and ‘Prosper’. Soon, the wind came and swept them up, carrying them, like falling leaves in a field. They were kneeling on the grass, with arms entwined, straining to bear the weight of their King. Yet, they did. Their collective strength was far greater than that of any one of them. They raised their king high into the air, so high he could see to the far edges of the land and beyond. And the king was glad to behold peace and fecundity. The King and his band smiled at Adam Everman.
Soon, they were on their way, drumming still. Adam ran hard after them till, entering a glade, he ran into an encampment. Tired and thirsty, he needed food and shelter for the night. A warrior, holding a shield, came towards him and the warrior’s men encircled the pair.They started drumming.
The warrior looked at Adam, taking his measure. Adam Everman faced him, eye to eye, toe to toe. Suddently, the warrior called out, ‘You will.’ Adam responded, ‘No, I won’t.’ ‘Yes, you will!’ ‘I won’t!’ ‘Yes, you will…’ And so it went on…as time passes. Neither would give way. Adam noticed the quieter his voice was, the more unsettled the warrior before him became. The drumming grew fierce, then stopped. All was quiet, save for the evening call of the birds, high in the trees’ canopy.
‘Welcome, Adam.’ The warrior invited him into the circle. He invited him to eat, drink and warm his heart next to the fire. Adam looked at the warrior’s shield, made of four colours. ‘The brown represents the earth from which we all come. The blue is for water, river and sea, without which we cannot survive. The green is for the trees and grass from which we have air to breathe and food to grow. The yellow is for the warmth and energy of the sun, on which everything depends. And the cabbage white is my animal spirit. So, what’s new?’
‘I must leave you now, Adam, but stay, eat, sleep. You are safe here.’ And soon the warrior departed, taking his drummers with him. Night fell and Adam, though on his own in the forest, felt safe. He ate some more and quenched his thirst. As the night cooled, he drew closer to the hearth, wrapping himself in a blanket.
The flames and smoke spoke to him of travellers’ tales, of the oracle answering life’s great mysteries and song; of a three-headed man, engaged in learned discussion. The log in the centre of the hearth glowed brightly. Adam yawned and, pulling his blanket close round him, lay down on the earth’s floor and fell into a deep sleep.
He woke to feel the warmth of the sun streaming through the branches and a symphony of birds. He breathed calmly under the canopy, till it was time to leave. Adam took to the path again. He’d not gone far when he saw a man walking towards him. The path was narrow and , as they closed, Adam stopped to allow the stranger to pass. The man paused and wished Adam a good morning. Adam returned his salutation. ‘What brings you here?’, the man asked. Adam replied that he was travelling in search of the answers to certain questions he had. ‘That is a fine thing you do. I have been travelling myself for fifty years or more, doing the same and am still finding questions.’ ‘Strange,’ thought Adam, ‘how young he looks, barely old enough to be a father.’ The man asked, ‘Have you time? Will you help me find holly and oak?’ ‘Of course,’ said Adam without hesitation. He did not sense any danger from this man; more a sense of wellbeing. It didn’t take them long to find holly. Oak proved a little more difficult. The stranger bid Adam follow him to the lakeside, where two long tree trunks lay side-by-side on the ground in front of a latticed fence. There was a gap between them. The man set about decorating the fence with the white feathers and colourful flowers, like a rainbow, he’d brought with him.
The man invited Adam to step inbetween the trees that lay on the ground, letting anything troubling him come to the fore; and when he was ready, then to step over the second trunk into the space at the edge of the lake. Adam bent to pick up a golden leaf liing in a circle on the grass. He placed the troublesome thought on the leaf and watched it fall, like a boat, onto the water and float away. He wasn’t sure how long he stood there in stillness but when he returned, his companion had gone. Adam felt lighter, as if something had lifted. He wished he could have thanked the stranger.
Adam wandered far along the tracks and paths of the land, walking around lakes and over mountains and hills. Once, he came over the crest of a hill and looked straight into the eyes of a buzzard, perched on a rock. The bird looked straight at him before rising into the air and circling overhead, hovering metres away in the wind. Some people stopped to talk to him, a few even inviting him in for food and a bed for the night. Others rushed past without a word or a nod, intent on their own private business.
One morning, he came to a lake where the water was lower than usual under the baking hot sun. He leant back against a large oak, seekng the shade. His palm pressed downwards onto the sticky mud. He had trouble taking his hand away. But when he did, he realised he’d made a perfect copy of his palm. The lines crossing his palm and the indents of the joints of his fingers stood out. Adam marvelled at the beauty of his hand. This was him. In a way, it was all of him.
A flash of blue from the edge of the lapping pool caught his eye. He moved nearer and stooped to pick up a ball of blue glass. He knew the glass had formed over millions of years, from a time when the stars collided. And here he was now, holding it in the palm of his hand. The same palm that lay in the clay. He took the ball over, pushing it gently into the middle of the palm. It rested there.
Adam stepped back and wondered about his own journey from meeting the king till now. He noticed his reflection in the water. He looked the same, he thought but inside, he felt different, unafraid, stronger. He clapped. The clap rang out over the lake, startling a heron bathing in the sunshine. He started clapping, rhythmically, louder, then softer, louder again till his hands stung. And he kept on clapping. It felt good. He felt his energy flowing within him. He looked out across the water. The warm sun was shining on his face and hands. Bees buzzed from flower to flower and birds flew all around. The breeze lifted for a moment and caught the branches of the trees. Adam felt ok, ready to move on.