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TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2016
Our lives are laid out for us and we take the path tread by others. I am no different. My life takes place in a stream where I am no more free than the water is free. I never make a choice; not really. I may wander from bank to bank, across the current; I may run against the river, matching my might with the force of inevitability; I can spend what little life I have fighting. Or I can do as others do. I may, at any moment, move this way or that, but my course leads to the same ocean as theirs. We all swim together and as the river washes away the refuse of our old age, so to it washes away what makes us ourselves.

Until today. Today I will venture where the river has not been. Today I will take the path which, to me, is usually dry. The river, she is a changing, and I embrace her in her change. Many of my fellows still swim in the directions that they have always pointed, but I will go this new route, through a land where the river has just today ventures to cross. Yes, I still go with the river, but many of my people are afraid to follow this new route, so I am, I think, intrepid. I am, I tell myself, bold and courageous. I have never crossed over these lands before; though the river carries me, I am free of its monotony. Though I swim, I fly.

Like all new things this new route is dangerous; there is danger at every turn for this land is not only unfamiliar to me, but so too to my mother river. And here is the thing. When nothing is ventured, nothing is gained. This brief day of freedom must, therefore, cost me something. And here is the thing. Here is this thing before me; here is a wall I cannot cross over. My mother river runs past there wall, but I stay behind. A moment ago I felt totally free; now I am worse than a prisoner.

Quickly - too quickly - the rivers runs past me, and I remain at my wall. How strange it is to finally be free of the waters that have been tyrant over my life; and how strange this feeling. I am now in a field, a place of never-have-been. The field is damp, but the river is gone. Now that I am free of the river I realize what it meant to me; the river was not the walls of my cell, but the air I breathed. The air about me now - the free and open space - chokes me. I lay, now, in the field thrashing and flipping. Flip, flop, flip, flop ... stop.

As I lay gasping, my gills collapsing on themselves, I vainly drink in my last breath of this crushing, open air. The breeze against my scales. This is my final feeling, and it is freedom.

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