Dried Up or Just Fine a short story by Mandy B. Anderson
I’m standing at a crossroads.
On the one side is a sign that says:
—> JUST FINE Avenue —>
It’s pointing to the road on my right. There’s something familiar about this road; I swear I’ve been down it before. The tracks on it are well worn, and the path looks easy. Friendly, even, with green foliage. Although, many of the people heading down it have funny looking blinders on their eyes that say “Pretending.” They all are forging ahead with the same, hollow look in their eyes; they all seem pretty overwhelmed and uptight actually. “But at least I won’t be alone on this road,” I think to myself.
On my left is a sign saying:
<— DRIED UP & WEARY Street <—
It points to a smoother path; the trees look a little droopy and worn out here. There’s a smaller sign near the start of this route that reads – “WARNING: This path requires authenticity and willingness to do what others won’t so you can have what they can’t have. It will ultimately lead to where you want to go most.”
Where I want to go most…
The thing is, I’m really just trying to get to one place – PEACEFUL Boulevard. Hmmm. Which one do I choose? JUST FINE Avenue or DRIED UP & WEARY Street?
I swear I just returned from JUST FINE Avenue not that long ago. It seems so familiar and empty at the same time. What if the way to PEACEFUL Boulevard really is down the path of DRIED UP & WEARY Street?
“I do actually feel a bit dried up and pretty weary to be honest,” I say out loud, pondering my options.
Just as the words finish dropping from my mouth, a funny shimmer starts to happen to the path on my left. Instead of smooth and untraveled, it begins to look comforting and well worn; the droopy trees start perking up as if my words were somehow a secret code.
I take a leap of faith and choose the path on my left. As soon as I do, I’m met by a tour guide of sorts – a peaceful little being with a big smile on his face.
“Hello. Welcome to DRIED UP & WEARY Street. My name is Art. Art of the PAUSE, to be exact. The PAUSE family founded this street and we are ecstatic that you’ve faithfully walked down it. After all, it will get you to where you want to go most. Where is that young woman?” He smiles peacefully as he waits for my reply.
I look down at him skeptically, second guessing my choice to go down this road. This is weird. “I’m trying to get to PEACEFUL Boulevard. Maybe I should turn back and go through JUST FINE Avenue. I think I took a wrong turn.” I start to walk back to the other path but find the way blocked by Mr. PAUSE.
“I’m so sorry Miss. The thing is, once you admit to taking DRIED UP & WEARY Street, you really can’t go back to JUST FINE Avenue. You must continue down the road that has been crafted for you. This is a road that’s been waiting for you, Miss! I promise it will be worth it and it will get you to where you want to go.”
He grabs my hand and smiles at me. We walk down the path and he continues with his travel lesson of the day, saying, “There’s nothing wrong with admitting you’re down DRIED UP & WEARY Street. In fact, most people miss the significance of it. Admitting this path doesn’t mean you stay on this path. See…” He points to a curve in the road and a new sign that says:
—> PEACEFUL Boulevard – this way —>
He continues his lesson as we walk down PEACEFUL Boulevard, “JUST FINE Avenue is nothing but a trap. It goes in a circle but most travelers don’t realize it. They get so caught up in their Pretending Blinders that they don’t realize the ramp to get off the craziness is actually found at the cross roads that you were just on. Something woke you up Miss. And it’s about time!”
“So you’re saying…the way to PEACEFUL Boulevard is actually through DRIED UP & WEARY Street?” I ask.
“Yes. It’s the only way,” he says.
“Why is it the only way?”
“Because you can’t actually get to PEACEFUL Boulevard without admitting you’re DRIED UP & WEARY. Admitting it is the secret code. Only then are the Pretending Blinders removed. Only then can you experience what the PAUSE family has been trying to share for years – that peace and rest and contentment don’t happen when you lie to yourself in the crazy cycle of JUST FINE Avenue. They don’t exist there. Peace and rest and contentment must be intentionally chosen. Only then can you build new paths to travel down. Only then can you stop running on empty,” he explains.
As he finishes his lesson, I realize that I’ve been down the path of JUST FINE Avenue one too many times. I’m ready to admit that sometimes I’ve got to go through DRIED UP & WEARY Street so that I can finally make it to PEACEFUL Boulevard. And that doesn’t make me weak…it makes me strong.
I smile at him, thankful for the wise words that Mr. Art of the PAUSE shared and ready to put his instruction into action.