Beachwood High School
Instructor: Casey Matthews
The Infinite Road
The Infinite Road
A curious man, after residing with tranquility within the walls of the world he knew, but had long since grown bored of memorizing every crevice of every corner, decided to follow the path and example of many of his hometown's ancestors. Even the trees and mountains had long since forgotten the first man that ventured down the infinite road. A path, so inexplicably long, that it was considered to be infinite. Our adventurer had grown so curious that just the world he knew was not enough. He wished to see all but what god saw only, and wanted to experience every wonder of the infinite world that had been laid for him to walk. So walk he did. With a farewell to the things he knew and a welcome to the things he will know, he set off. Months he walked. Years. However, along an infinite road, you can only expect infinite things. The nomad saw infinite mountains ten times taller than the peaks he saw at home. The birds sang songs of infinite beauty, The skies stretched over an infinite horizon, and hung from the infinite trees, were infinite fruit. But the best part of it all was the people. Oh, the people! All descendants of ancestors of the hometown that previously trekked the infinite trail, that settled where the fruit was the sweetest, where the grass grew the greenest, and where they foresaw infinite opportunities for infinite generations to come. Throughout an infinite amount of people, the man's smile only grew wider, he saw thousands of cultures, millions of ideas, foods, and items. Every assortment of pins and bobs that people had created. As he walked, he collected infinite stories from the infinite people he encountered. Yet although he walked in awe through the springs, summers, and falls, winter came every year. For such a privilege to see the world, the man took the burdens and walked through the cold every year, and fought the fighting winds that tried to push him away from the road, away from the future. It was in one of these winters that he met a peculiar man. Older than he was, much older. Walking in the opposite direction he was. The man, eager to share experiences with yet another man along the trail, stopped when the elder talked to him. The wind was blowing, but it was not a harsh storm that day, and it was easy to talk.
"I suggest you turn around and head back to whichever town you started from" the old man suddenly said, his tone was dark and cold. It was the voice of a man that had walked through one too many of these winters.
"The road does not bring anything but disappointment." the old man rasped, "each winter only gets colder than the last." At that moment the wind blew harder and pushed the younger backward, and it was with much effort that he said, "Why, I still have infinite adventures yet to take," he said, with vigor in his voice, "The winters are not to bitter the taste of the following spring! In truth, winter makes spring all the warmer! Join me, I have seen infinite wonders and I have yet to see infinite more!" Now, with a wider smile, he looked to the infinite sky and proclaimed to anyone that could be watching, "May we push to see the ultimate wonder, let us march on, to see the end of infinity!" Laughing, he turned to the old man. There, he saw for just a moment, the astonished face of a curious child, who had discovered something amazing for the first time. Then immediately the elder regained his composure, "Fine. Join you I will, only for the sight of your face when you find the end of infinity." he shook his head and smiled a bit, "what you will do when you reach the end. I want to see that moment." The wind stopped and only the white snow lay before them, blank, empty, ready to be painted with their footsteps. The younger thought for a moment and responded, "However I'm having so much fun, to never see the end would be a gift." And with that, they continued the infinite trail. With the old man, the hiker got ever curious, the old man regarded everything with no interest. It was as if he had seen it all. After infinite journeys through towns and cities along the road, not once did he seem surprised by the new things of the world. The old man seemed like an empty shell, so light that even the wind could blow him over. However, his presence provided company for our hiker, and like that they walked.
Who is to say how long they walked for? Years? Decades? Eons? They walked for a seemingly infinite amount of time. Always marching forward. After a significant amount of time had passed, they walked to a mountain at the end of fall. The road led right up the mountain, so they spent the better part of a month climbing it. Atop the summit it was cold, the mountain stretched far above the clouds, all the trees were barren, and with no weather whatsoever, all that remained was the wind. The hiker looked for the next part of the road, yet he could not find it. To this, the old man laughed.
"It's the end!" he cackled, "Now do you see? An infinite amount you've walked, to find nothing! No flowers bloom atop this mountain, no fruit, no leaves, no color! Not even snow can reach you here! There is absolutely nothing in the end, except the harsh winds that blow you back!" And seemingly in response the wind blew and stretched the branches of each tree backward, like fingers pointing back along the trail they had walked. The old man continued, it seemed he had a lot to say, a lot of secrets hidden within the shell he was. "I was like you once, in fact, I was the first! I walked the trail before anyone else did, what seems like forever ago! I was just like you! I walked and I walked, I hungered through the winters, I tramped through the springs, I slogged through the summers! All for the end, all to see what it would be, what was so precious, so valuable, beyond valuable! Infinitely valuable! What was so amazing that god had put it at the edge of the world! Leaving us an infinite road to find it! I persevered, to find nothing! And like that the wind carried me back, back through those winters, back along the road I had so much hope for. Now, now that you have seen the end, seen that your efforts have been for nothing! I want to know, what will you do now?" The old man, withered though he was, had brought a long since buried fire out of his wind-eroded shell, and out of breath now, he waited for the hiker's response.
"Well. This is amazing!" said the wanderer, who has now found his destination, "This is amazing news!" The old man did not expect that answer. He looked as if he had had the wind knocked out of him, and seeing that the old man had no more to say, the traveler continued. "What a blessing it has been to see the world! A blessing to see this adventure to the end! My curiosity has been fed, I know now the wonders of the world, and why you have always seemed so uninterested. Why, it is because you and I are completely different!" He smiled widely, "You, who walked for the sole purpose of the end, have not taken joy in the journey! My friend, did I not always tell you? Winter makes spring all the warmer! I have walked the infinite road, I have met infinite people, for each I have infinite stories to tell, I have had infinite joys, seen infinite things, felt infinite wonders, and you are to tell me, that I am privileged with the opportunity, to see it twice! To do it all again! To tell all of the people that at the end there is a mountain taller than the clouds! Atop it where you can be the closest to piercing the infinite sky! Closest to reaching infinity! Closest to being among the infinite stars! But no, my friend. Truly, we are nowhere near infinity. We have merely reached the end of the infinite road! So back along it I will walk!" With that, the man began to climb down the mountain, with the wind carrying him fast toward the people he will inspire, leaving the old man there to ponder infinity. As he thought he took a moment to look down at the clouds, an infinite white, blank, empty sea of wonder. And he thought to himself, "It looks just like winter up here." And the next spring, he too had started the infinite walk back. Along the infinite road.