Why Do We Grow Up?
by Sasha Gorelik
"Why do you have that curious look in your eyes, Lauren?" asked Lauren's dad.
"Why do plants grow upwards?" Lauren replied.
"Because Sky is the plant's father and the plant wants to be with its father."
Unsure if he should believe his father's answer, Lauren wandered outside to the fields behind the house. The wind whispered through the grass with many voices. "Why, grass, do you grow upwards?" asked Lauren.
The grass answered, "My blades grow upwards in order to make a playground for you, so that you will always be with me."
Lauren didn't know whether to believe grass either. As daylight faded, he wandered into the forest. Soon he came upon the warden of the woods. The keeper was a wise owl. Again, again, "Who? Who?" the owl crooned. Lauren walked up to the owl.
"Why is it that everything grows upwards?"
The owl answered, "I've been asking that question for so long, I've grown tired of asking. All I can say anymore is 'Who, who can answer me?'"
It was the sincerity in the owl's response that raised Lauren's spirits. Though he hadn't been told why things grow up, he realized that this was the first time anyone had answered honestly. Lauren thanked the owl then wandered deeper into the woods.
Lauren had grown sleepy from walking and had found it hard to make his way in the dark. He saw a willow with branches so long and so alive, he could use their cover like a blanket. He curled up under it and fell into a deep sleep. When Lauren awoke, looking up, he noticed something peculiar.
Lauren was sleepy and whispered, "Why, willow, do your branches hang down while all other plants grow up?"
"Because, my dear boy, any answer you hear will have an exception." Baffled by the words of the willow, Lauren wandered away. Now he was troubled by a new question.
The moon had grown full since he'd fallen asleep and now shown brightly through the trees with her silver, lighting his way to the river. He sat lackadaisically and watched the moon's reflection as she drank from the stream. After a long hesitation Lauren asked his burning new question to the moon's reflection. "How can a question have more than one answer?"
The moon stirred the waters and a trickling crystal voice rose from the waves. "Because life is a dream that I watch while children sleep."
Lauren decided he would not ask the moon any more questions. He asked the river his new question instead.
"Where do dreams come from?"
"The dream, my dear boy, starts from the beginning," answered the river.
"But where is the beginning?" asked Lauren, confused.
The river replied, "It starts from up high, like I start in the mountains."
So Lauren asked, "How do we get up high?"
The river answered, "Silly boy, don't you know that all things grow upwards?" Lauren was back to the beginning; flustered, he left the river.
Deciding to take a break he lay his head on some mossy ground. He was soon visiting Dream and the moon once more. In Lauren's dream the owl had thrown hooks over the crescent of the moon and had tied one end of the rope to the willow's branches. The owl pulled the willow's branches awkwardly upwards. The willow was crying. Suddenly, a rushing river fell from the moon and broke the ropes. The owl was washed clear and flew away. The willow thanked the moon.
When Lauren awoke to the morning sun he remembered his original question. He decided to seek the high grounds and began to walk toward the mountains. On his way Lauren crossed paths with a bearded man who walked hunched over his cane. Lauren asked, "Why do all things grow upwards?"
"You only grow up until you stop growing, then you start to shrink just like me, you see. But you, you're still growing, so why don't you tell me?" replied the old sage.
"I wish I knew," Lauren said, and walked toward the mountain once more. Lauren was out of breath from climbing when he spoke to the highest peak. "You are the tallest thing in all the land, so you must have an answer. Why do things grow up?"
"Why you're right, it's true that I stand taller than all that I see, I don't have to look over anybody's head, so I guess that makes me the tallest thing. I don't need to grow -- I simply am -- so I don't ask about those kind of things. That's something I'll have to think about for some years."
Lauren left to find truth homeward. When he reached home, Lauren sat down to think back over his travels. He thought about everyone's answers and how each response made him need to know even more. He remembered his dream and how sad the willow was when she was made to be something she's not. He thought about how hard he was trying to learn something he already knew.
It was at that moment that Lauren shouted the answer, "Because life is always reaching for, not being with, the heavens!"
Story © 2004 by Sasha Gorelik email@example.com
Illustration © 2004 by Robert Sorensen firstname.lastname@example.org
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