Once, there was a child.
Like all children, this one was made from the stuff of stardust. This child slid from the heavens above, leaving behind their dance among the constellations and descending along the great slide of color and light that would bring them into a new world. With a disorienting thud, the child landed amongst the green grass, cold and unfamiliar, wet and a little prickly.
And still, this child was the stuff of stardust. Kindness and compassion, curiosity and connection, innocence and integrity, wildness and wonder. So when this child looked out upon this new world, it shimmered with the golden light of hope and beauty.
Soon, though, the child was approached by two beings with stern faces.
“Don’t you know you must choose?” said the one draped in lose flowing frocks, dripping with water.
“Choose what?” asked the child, still taking in the surroundings. The magnificence of the land that flowed from a meandering river up towards a towering mountaintop.
“Choose which of us you will become,” said the other, cloaked in heavy layers of animal hide.
You see, there were the river-dwellers, those creatures of the water who frolicked along the lapping shore, bathing in the sun and soaking in the sea. And there were the mountain-dwellers, those who traversed the highest peaks and sought adventures above. Each group stayed amongst themselves, each group knew their place, and as long as they stayed within the confines of that group, they remained safe.
“But how could I ever choose?” Asked the child, with wide eyes. “For me, there is no choice. My soul wants to stroll amongst the shore and climb along the mountain. I feel that there is a part of me in both these places. I am both and I am neither.”
The river dweller and the mountain dweller looked at each other with serious faces and said in unison, “That is not allowed.”
“What happens if I do not choose?” the child pondered.
“Then you will be alone,” replied the mountain-dweller.
“You will be neither safe nor accepted by either group,” added the river-dweller, “And we will not protect you from what things may come.”
In that moment, the remaining sheen of stardust faded from the child. For the child knew they could never be whole or happy in this world that split them in two, that couldn’t appreciate the intricacy from which they came, that refused to see the complex swirl of color and light that made them who they were.
And so, the child, head hung, walked away. Alone. Afraid. Trailing stardust in their wake.
But the children of the river-dwellers and the children of the mountain-dwellers, who’s eyes still recognized the spark of stardust, came up from their valleys and down from their hills. They followed the trail of stardust, picking up the pieces that shimmered and led the way. With each speck they carried in their small hands, they gained strength, and they remembered. They remembered how they shined before the new world told them who they had to be.
When at last they came upon the child with the head hung low, they joined hands. They shared the stardust, passing hope from hand to hand. Together, they rose up, defying the rules of their elders, who had long since forgotten the way. Together, they created a more truthful world, one that reflected the stuff of stardust.