“The man had come so far. Out of a desolate ice field, across a vast swamp. He’d climbed fertile mountains, traversed a barren desert, and navigated a silent sea. He trudged now through a dense, dim forest. The ground was a sponge of dried leaves. The air was thick with suspended dust. Tangles of brush slowed him down. ¬†And unseen menaces clawed at his ankles.

The man’s clothes hung in sweat-soaked tatters. His shoes were held together with mud. Dried blood streaked his forearms from countless thorny slashes. His face was cracked and peeling. His legs were slow and unsteady. Fatigue exuded from his every feature save one; his eyes. They almost glowed under furrowed brow, over sunken cheeks. With piercing intensity they stayed affixed on his way.

The man’s eyes gleamed with the brightness of a child’s. But the color had been shattered by his experiences into dazzling kaleidoscopic rings. Out of them radiated flecks of wisdom, shards of fortitude, fragments of courage. Each earned and added along his journey. The rest of him bore every scar and blemish of his life, but his eyes only shined ever more beautifully.

The man had come so far, with such protected¬†determination, with such hard-fought conviction. But when light finally spilled through the thicket before him, he hesitated. So close to paradise sought, yet his heart was tugged in sudden, unexpected longing for all those he’d left behind.”

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