Look at it. It’s almost a speck it’s so small. Looking down the tunnel, I think about how long it was since I started.
I look over my shoulder, the other side looks just as far. I’ve come a long way since the start; I can’t tell which side I’m closer to anymore. I keep trekking on towards the unconquered end.
The narrow path I’m walking on seems to be comforting at this point. It must be at least a couple feet wide, but with the wall to my right and the edge to my left, balance is important. I must keep focused on the task at hand; reaching my destination.
I run my knuckles along the wall to keep me on the path to the light. The darkness has become soothing. Letting me think, my mind wanders.
I know why they call it the Paw Paw tunnel now. You just have to put one paw in front of the other, and keep going. Well, feet in my case, since I’m not a dog, or a bear, or some other animal with paws. Cats, lions, mice. Wait, mice don’t have paws…
I can hear the whispering of mice behind the wall.
They probably don’t ever get to see the light. Living in this darkness. How do they do it?
With curiosity, I wonder what a life without the light would be like. The light gives me a sense of direction, even though I can’t see the path. I use it to guide me, to stay on my course, to keep me going…
The mice don’t have a direction, but do they need one? Clearly, they’ve gotten to a point where they can survive behind the walls. They get their necessities I assume: food, water, a cozy brick to lie up against. That’s what these mice need.
I need more though. Reaching the light is a fuel for me, a desire. My passion. It’s always said that it’s more about the journey than where you end up. Well I know that where I end up will be the reminder of where I came from.
I stop for a moment to light a cigarette with one of the last matches I have. The spark flares, beaming red then quickly toning down to a vibrant orange. I just watch it for a second.
Almost forgetting why I light the match, I inhale. I wait until the last moment before throwing the match to the canal.
That moment was inspiring. For the first time since I entered, I could see the arched ceiling above me. Some sort of moss or something was growing, I couldn’t tell what it was. I was too busy admiring it’s pattern that seemed so organized, yet so random.
Who knew there could be such beautiful life where there is no light.
The last thing I saw before the match hit the water was a dead mouse floating in the water. Maybe it was one of the lucky ones to escape being trapped behind the wall. But it wasn’t able to survive. Maybe the mice inside the wall were the smarter ones; they were content enough to survive.
I found that both mice had lessons to be learned. The mouse who drowned was ambitious; he wanted to do better, he wanted more, just like me. He ventured along until he found his escape from the wall. Having been on one side of the wall his whole life, he had no idea what to expect. He was used to the dark, but not used to the edge apparently. His ambition took over, got the best of him, and lead him to his own demise.
On the other hand, the mouse inside the wall was content. He figured he has everything he needs, why ask for more. He never had even the slightest thought of what was on the other side of the wall, because he was content. But he would end up living and dying in the same place. In a way, being content lead him to his demise as well.
For content mouse, that might work, but not for me. I, like the drowned mouse, am ambitious. But, I am content with the darkness. I have embraced it, a growing appreciation for it, because I know without the darkness, I can’t find the light.
Who knew some mice could teach me about life on some path in a tunnel. Was this part of the journey I’m supposed to have through the tunnel?
I thought again about the path that I was on, how narrow it was. If I didn’t keep my balance, I could fall towards the canal or hit my head against the wall. I could fall either way, so I need to watch myself.
Like the mice, I need to make sure I don’t fall into my ambitions or my contentness. I must find my balance to be able to continue along the path, literally and metaphorically.
The lesson I took from the mice was as follows.
::::::::To be content in life means that you could be fine sleeping against a brick wall. To be ambitious in life means that you could wander off to where no one has been. But, without finding a balance between the two, you will lead yourself to your own demise::::::::
As I approach the light at the end of the tunnel, the darkness starts to turn to light. I can see all the moss on the ceiling again, which is still awe-striking to me. My ambition is making my heart beat out of my chest. But I make sure to not be over ambitious though. So I stop, and pause for a moment.
Looking down, I see that the sun is shining right in front of my feet while I stand still in the shadow. Embracing the darkness for one last time, I turn around.
The light at the end of the tunnel looks so far away. I have reached the other side though. Taking a deep breath, soaking the darkness in one last time. I turn and let the light blind me. I must now become content with the light, and not too ambitious for the darkness once again.