The day everything changed

Angry storm clouds in dark shades of grey and green thundered across the sky, casting a shadow over the land. Oblivious to what was going on above him, Brendan carried on walking slowly yet determinedly towards his goal: a haunted place from the past. He did not even bother to look over his shoulder at the clouds as they gained on him. The clouds mirrored his memories of an equally overcast day in his childhood. While the first memories started to form, his heart beat faster, sounding in old emotions that he could no longer suppress. Feelings of intense resentment roared deep down inside, demanding to be voiced at last.

A few moments later, he walked past the derelict house of his childhood. He did not notice its dilapidated state and like a horse that senses it is almost home, he quickened his pace to the old pond at the end of the field that was once his family’s huge backyard. By then, his resentment had forced its way up to his head, where it turned into rage. Seething, he ran the final metres to the edge of the pond and roared:
“Ya fucken lyin’ cunt … !!! You murdered them! Ya fucken murderer! Murderer! I hate you, you murdering egomaniac!”
While he projected all of his anger into the world, thousands of big fat raindrops pelted down on him from the storm clouds that had finally caught up with him, as if to emphasize his words of anger and pain.

U2 – Out Of Control
Brendan continued raging at his invisible tormentor until his head no longer felt hot and his heartbeat was back to normal. Then the tears came. They gushed ruthlessly from his eyes and down his cheeks to merge with the rain that was thrashing his face. He sank to his knees on the muddied ground, went on all fours and sobbed his heart out, as anger made way for grief. His chest heaved to the rhythm of his heavy breathing as he tried hard not to choke on the phlegm that built up in his throat. All the while, the memories that had brought forth this discharge of pent up emotions, were presented to his mind’s eye one by one. Together they helped him to recall the day everything changed.

It was a sunny evening in June, some forty years ago, when Brendan, aged twelve, was told by his dad that they had sold the house and that their family was going to move to the other side of the country. Brendan had taken it all in silently. Even when his dad explained that selling the house meant that the beaver dam and lodge at the end of the backyard would have to be demolished and the beavers would be moved to another pond. Without so much as a disappointed look, he went down to the beaver lodge to hand the bad news to the small beaver family he had befriended when he was six. There he broke down and cried, blurting incomprehensively to Sandy the young beaver cub and his parents. They understood him though, communicating telepathically like they were used to.

The next day when he came home from school, there was a surprise waiting for him. Like always, he went straight to the pond to see Sandy, only this time Sandy wasn’t there. In fact neither were his parents. Brendan panicked and looked around if he could find them. When he looked more closely, he saw that the dam had been breached and the lodge was wrecked. His eyes opened wide with terror when he noticed the colour of the water. The pond had turned from a muddy brown into ruby red. Brendan instantly knew what this meant. His heart pounded and he tried to contain the nauseous feeling in the pit of his stomach, but moments later he threw up his lunch in the fresh green grass.

U2 – An Cat Dubh (The Black Cat)
U2 – Into The Heart

Looking back on that horrific day, Brendan remembered what had hurt him most of all.
“I didn’t even protest, Dad,” he said huskily, reprimanding himself.
“There is no need to be so harsh on yourself, Brendan,” the warm and friendly voice of a woman sounded to his left.
Brendan was startled. He got back on his feet and looked in the direction of the voice. That was when he noticed it was no longer raining and the sky was turning a friendly and clear light blue. Just like his anger and grief, the wind and rain had subsided to make way for a sunnier scene. Then the voice spoke again:
“Here I am.”
Brendan smiled when he recognized the voice coming from the old walnut tree that had already stood there when he was still a young boy.
“Ahh, wise one, it’s you,” he replied with the same reverence as whenever he visited the tree all those years ago and confided his deepest feelings to her.
“Yes, it is I,” the tree replied in a tone that told Brendan she was smiling back at him.
“I’m very glad you’re still around.”
“So am I,” the tree said, humorously. “I knew you would come back one day.”
Brendan arched his eyebrows.
“Come and sit with me so I may enlighten you.”

Brendan walked over to the tree and made himself comfortable between two large roots that protruded from the base of the trunk. There he leaned back against the trunk, closed his eyes and waited patiently for the walnut tree he felt so at home with to speak again. Sitting there, he felt a warm sensation that emanated from his heart and flowed through every vein in his body. It was followed by a long yearned for tranquillity.
“You can feel it, can you not, Brendan?”
Brendan did not have to voice his reply, as the tree knew all of his thoughts and feelings before he himself was even aware of them.
“Now, go back in time and remember how you felt when you first met Sandy.”
As soon as Brendan did as he was asked, he smiled warmly through tears of love.
“Sandy,” he whispered, remembering how he had come up with the little beaver’s name.
Unlike the other beavers, Sandy had a small patch of sand coloured hair in his neck that Brendan could identify him by.

“Although Sandy is no longer present, you are still able to make contact with him.”
The tree had barely spoken when Brendan travelled through time and space and found himself standing by the pond on the last day of Sandy’s life forty years ago. When he saw Sandy, he felt so happy that he tried to call him, but the words never came. Then he realized he was not actually participating in the scene taking place before him. He was merely viewing it from the outside even though it felt as if he was experiencing it along with Sandy. “No, Dad! Please don’t!” he shouted to his father who was walking towards the beaver family accompanied by a man carrying a shotgun and an axe. But his dad did not hear him, and even if he had, he did not feel like his dad anymore. This was reflected in what happened next. In what felt like mere moments, Brendan looked on in terror as the stranger shot and killed Sandy and his parents, and then destroyed the lodge and the dam. “No! No! Stop!” Brendan screamed as if he could turn back time, but he realized the events had really taken place when he saw Sandy floating belly up on the surface of the bloodied pond.

U2 – Twilight

A sudden flash of light brought him back to where he was now. Again he cried, only calmly this time, as if he had accepted what had happened. His grief slowly subsided and he began to feel peaceful. He noticed he was able to feel his feelings and at the same time observe them from a distance. Then he felt the power behind his feelings flowing through his entire body.
“What you are feeling now, is the transformation of something that does not serve you into something that does,” the walnut tree explained.
Brendan opened his eyes and smiled.

“This transformation marks the end of your childhood with its feelings of powerlessness and dependency, and invites you to accept adulthood with its emotional maturity, while retaining your childlike innocence and pureness.”
“I gladly accept,” Brendan said, nodding.
“You are independent and powerful,” the tree went on to say. “Feel deep down what your soul desires. Focus on that and act on it. With your creativity, resourcefulness and perseverance you will build a new life for yourself. The life that you were intended to live.
“Yes, I will,” Brendan agreed. “I feel that every day can be a day when everything changes. Anything can happen. All I need, is to make the right things happen. The things that make my soul sing with joy.”
“That is right, Brendan. You always were a quick learner,” the walnut tree smiled, contentedly. “Now you have learned this valuable lesson, there is someone who has been waiting a very long time to meet you. Look at the pond.”

Brendan looked and saw a beaver lodge in exactly the same spot where the old lodge had been. He was just about to ask himself whether the lodge had already been there earlier that afternoon, when a mother beaver and her cub appeared from the lodge and started swimming towards him.
“Wow,” Brendan gasped.
He jumped to his feet and rushed to the edge of the pond, where he squatted, waiting for the beaver cub to come out of the water. When it did, he wrapped his arms around it and hugged it tightly like he used to with Sandy.
“I’ve missed you,” he said all dewy-eyed with a big smile on his face and then put the cub back on its feet.
The cub looked at him with a twinkle in its eyes, as if to say: “I was with you all along and I will be with you till the end of time.”
Brendan’s jaw dropped and in the blink of an eye, the beaver cub, its mum and the lodge vanished into thin air.

U2 – Boy (Full Album)
Symbolism:
Beaver: Perseverance; visionary; motivation; creative; manifestation of dreams; building; industrious; problem solving; resourceful; collaboration; benevolence
Walnut tree: Intelligence; wisdom; knowledge; inspiration; clarity; focus; fertility; gathering of energy; beginning new projects

 

Images:
‘Storm’ by Unwetter Freaks on Pixabay
‘Tree’ by Jplenio on Pixabay
‘Nutria’ by Apnear40 on Pixabay

 

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