There once was a man who came to a mountain. When he arrived at the mountain it looked impossible with no footholds at all. To him it looked as smooth as a fine polished stone.
“Surely, no has ever climbed this mountain,” the man said, looking up as far as he could see.
He could see the very top. A cool breeze came. As he stood, he hoped maybe, the wind would blow hard enough a treasure would fall. He searched the ground for any signs of riches, then thought, “Maybe it’s just a legend after all.”
As he sat at the foot of the mountain, he wondered how many people had come and stared at it. The mountain must have listened to many thoughts, curses, wants, and needs.
“Impossible!” He cried, adding another curse to the mountain.
The man thought on his way home, “If only I could get to the top. Then I would never have to worry about fortune and deeds.”
So everyday the man came to the mountain, thinking it would somehow change. That somehow there would be a staircase or passage revealed. Maybe a magic word would open the mountain and lead him today.
He began saying his thoughts outloud that, maybe, just maybe, the mountain would hear the right words and open a way. But that day never came.
Each time he gave up and walked away and muttered under his breath, “Impossible.”
One day an old man was sitting at the bottom of the mountain. The man came and said, “Who are you?”
The old man limped towards him with a cane as tall as himself and said “I’m the wise man of the mountain. Who are you?”
“I want to climb this mountain. It’s as smooth as polished stone. And no secret word or saying will show me the way.”
“Have you tried climbing it?” The old wise man asked.
The man shook his head. “Impossible. Don’t you see how smooth it is? If you’re really the wise man of the mountain show me the way!”
“How can you know something is impossible if you haven’t made an attempt?”
“Are you blind old man? The mountain is so polished and smooth. A magic word or two to open some way is all I need.”
“All you’ve done is think, it couldn’t hurt to try something new. How about this, climb to that mark you see that is not too far out of reach. Say your secret words and sayings and then all will be revealed.”
The man looked at the mountain and hesitated. The mark wasn’t far up. If he fell it wouldn’t be the end of him.
He walked up and touched the mountain, feeling every dip and irregularity. The mountain wasn’t so smooth to the touch. There was a slight indention. A place to hold a hand. Next he needed another handhold. Somehow he found it. Then he needed a place to put his foot. Once again he somehow found it. Before he knew it, he was two lengths of the wise mans cane up high. Then two became three. Three became four.
He reached the mark and said all the secret words and sayings and wise words he could think of.
But nothing came of it. He wanted to shout at the old man for misleading him. Instead he climbed down.
“Nothing happened.” The man said, out of breath.
“Oh?” The wise man said. “Take a look again.”
The man looked at the mountain. Then at the mark he reached.
With his eyes he traced his path. He could see where he placed his hands and feet. After some time, a pattern emerged.
Then the whole mountain instantly changed. He could see indentions where he thought there where no indentions, handholds where he thought no handholds. Suddenly the mountain revealed its way.
“The short time climbing taught you more than all the days thinking.” The wise man said. “Now wasn’t that so hard?”
The man could now see patterns in the mountain. He could read the depressions, notches, and wedges. The man felt he was closer to the riches that lay above. All he had to do was gather a plan and climb.
“Now that I can reach the top I will never have to work again. I will be rich, well-liked, and forever known.”
“Impossible.” The wise man said. “I have yet to meet a man who could turn the impossible into possible. Next you will tell me you can turn pork into lime!”
“Old man, are you not a miracle worker? I was blind but now I can see. Not only can I see but I can read the mountain.”
“What looks possible now, will look impossible to you the further you climb. If you are indeed a man that can turn the impossible into the possible, then you will no longer need me. I will come back in three months time.”
The old wise man turned and walked away.
The man thought, “Three months time? I can climb it today. Now that I can read the mountain, I will find a way.”
The man looked and studied the mountain. Where the old man pointed, was a safe path. From there he saw the next point and then another. He figured out where he would rest and where he would move. But the last part of the mountain was a mystery. The rocks where a deep dark color.
The first day, he could not even get half-way. He muscles were not used to the strain.
Everyday he came to the mountain always getting further and further. His hands became rough as the rocks and his muscles became hard as stone.
One day he climbed to the highest point. A point where the rocks changed color. When the man first saw the rocks his heart sunk. These were no ordinary rocks. Sharp as daggers, they guarded the top of the mountain. The man went back down to ponder and think.
He needed the dexterity of his hands, but to cover them with leather would mean he would fall. If he were to climb all the way, he would be cut to shreds.
“Impossible,” he said. “The old man was right.”
Then he remembered, he once thought the first part of the mountain was impossible. Maybe he wasn’t seeing something. Maybe there was more to the mountain. So man thought for many days.
He thought, “If can turn the impossible to the possible once, then I can do it again.”
Finally the old wise man came.
“Tell me old man, have you been to the top? Tell me the rest of the way.”
“No. I have not been to the top.”
“Then why are you considered wise man of the mountain? Is this some kind of trick?”
“I climbed to the same spot as you and thought it was impossible. Now that I am too old to climb, I finally know the answer. First tell me what happens when you go back to your tribe everyday, and say, ‘I failed at climbing the mountain?'”
“They say I am a fool. That I should be happy with what I have. I am well off but not too well off. But this year things are going sour.”
“Then you will fail at climbing the rest of the mountain. In order to climb the mountain you will need to lose everything.”
“I can’t give up everything! Are you mad?”
“I can assure you, what you will receive at the top, will stay with you till the day you die.”
The old wise man could see the battle going on inside the mans head.
“Because you are conflicted in mind, you will be timid and won’t make the rest of the climb.”
“Enough talk! Old man tell me how to climb the rest of the mountain. What tools do I need?”
“You already know the answer. Any tools you use will cause you to fall. The legend of the mountain says, that the riches will be revealed by your hands and no tools at all.”
“I will be cut to shreds and my belly sliced open! The rocks are like daggers. None in world I’ve ever seen.”
Once the man realized what it would take to climb the mountain, he turned around and left.
He let time pass and the mountain was just a distant memory.
As the days and months went by, the situation for the man got worse and worse. Calamity struck and he lost everything. His home. His wife. His friends. He was now lonely.
With everything gone, he remembered the tale of the mountain. And now he wanted to be free from the loss. If only he could get to the top, he could rebuild.
Rebuild all that he could see.
He went to the mountain with fire in his eyes. With nothing to lose and new life to gain, he went to finally claim the riches of the mountain. Just one last pain.
The man reached the mountain and with fingertips and footholds, he began his climb.
The man thought, “To die on rocks or to die in despair. I will let fate decide.”
And so he continued his climb.
He came to the daggered rocks. No matter where he put his hand they would be cut and sliced. He looked back down and remembered there was nothing but his old life. So he used that as fire and climbed.
Each hand grasped a jagged edge or a sharp rock. Each move was more painful than the last. Just above, he saw, was a place he could rest.
Half way there, covered in blood his whole body was scarred and bleeding from scraping the mountain. So that way he climbed. There was no turning back. Each time he wanted to give up, he looked back down. That gave him more fuel and fire to overcome the pain. The riches were just ahead. With one last push he made it to the top.
Gasping for air, he collapsed. From his blood soaked eyes he saw barren ground. No riches. Not anything. He cursed all because the wise man lied.
As he sat at the top of mountain and looked over the land, he wondered what it all means. His thoughts went here and there and finally he wondered if he should end it all with one last fall.
The man couldn’t help but think of the easy and the impossible, nothing in-between.
So the man battled with his thoughts. At first it was all about the mountain, but now he warred with his mind.
The man thought, “First it was impossible to see, then to do… Twice I did the impossible. Now I shall go on and die.”
But just as the man was about to fall, he stared down at the daggers he just climbed. With his eyes he traced the path he came. He followed the trail of blood to where he stood. The mountain changed once again. And he could now read the sharp rocks. Places where they where like daggers and places where they were dull from weather. What he was blind to he could now see. A way down from the impossible mountain. By choosing the hard way it revealed the easy way.
Only from the top could he read.
Then he thought of all the things he thought impossible and thought of them as mountains to climb. “Had I done this, had I done that.” He thought over and again. Patterns emerged and he could read.
And so he sat there and took it all in.
“Had I been here, had I been there…”
“Had I said this, had I said that…” Was all he could think.
And so the man climbed back down the mountain this time with a better eye. Avoiding the sharpest rocks and keeping to the right stones, he avoided his demise.
“Had I done this, had I done that, I would succeed. The power to turn the impossible into the possible is mine indeed.”
Short story by journeyto1000