Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Daria the Lonely Lioness

Once upon a time there was a lioness named Daria who lived on a vast savannah. The landscape was brown and mostly flat, with sparse areas of yellow grass. It was usually quiet, hot, and without a breeze. She survived on small rodents, but there was nothing else to eat, and there was no other life around, and she had no lion friends. On the east end of her domain was a river, and beyond the river was a green forest. She imagined the forest was cool and filled with a variety of life; maybe even other lions that she could make friends with; even find a husband. Often times she gazed over the river and imagined herself in the forest, playing with the other animals over there, smelling all the interesting scents, and feasting on the variety of foods to be found. But she could not go over because the river was cold, wet, and even worse, dark and mysterious. She did not know how deep it was, and she was sure it held pirhanna and other viscious creatures that could kill her.
The more she stared over the river, the more depressed she became because she was so bored in her monotonous savannah, and she kept thinking about how happy she would be with new friends in the forest. She began spending more time looking toward the east, and took her naps closer and closer to the edge of the river.
One day Daria decided she just could not stand the savannah one minute longer, and slowly moved toward the river. She was very frightened, but she walked slowly and deliberately into the muddy and mysterious water. It was freezing and it was so dark she could not see what was down there, and the bottom was icky, but she kept going, step by step, deeper and deeper, until she could barely hold her head above the water. Then she felt something attack her and bite her in the side. Terrified, she tried to get away from whatever it was, but she was bogged down in the mud. She felt more bites from the school of viscious pirhannas. They tore her flesh, and she thrashed in the water, but the more she thrashed, the more bogged down she got, and became so weak from the struggle she eventually lost consciousness.
   * * *
When she awoke and slowly opened her eyes, she came to realize that she somehow was on the other side of the river. She saw the outlines of the trees, now above her, that she used to gaze at from afar. Then she saw an elephant looking down at her with a friendly face. "That was a close one" said the elephant. "You could have died, but luckily I was able to pull you out of the river".
Daria didn't say anything. In fact she didn't say or do much of anything for the next few days because she was so tired and disoriented. Someone was bringing her food while she slept, maybe the elephant who saved her life.
Eventually she had the strength to get up and walk around. She wandered around the area, exploring the riverside and the woods. It was nice, but not exactly the paradise she envisioned when she lived on the west side of the river. She thought there would be lots of great friends to play with, but she had not really found anyone yet. The friendly elephant was nowhere to be found. But she was still happy to be on this side of the river. It was shady, and cool, and she found good food to eat.
After a number of days of exploring, she found that other lions did live over here on this side of the river. She came to be acquainted with a very nice family of lions, who introduced her other friends. She came to be accepted by this group of friends, though it was after some time (you know how cats can be). She told them about living on the other side of the river and her ordeal when she tried to come across. "Was it worth it ?" they asked.
"Of course" Daria said. "I can't believe I lived over there in that wasteland for so long. Even though I have not found a husband yet, it was worth it. Even though life is still a struggle in many ways, it was worth it. It was worth it because I have met you, and it was worth it because I know I can endure just about any hardship now because I endured crossing the river. Life over here is not what I thought it would be, but life is good."
Daria grew happier and happier as the days went on, not because she had found paradise, but because she was in a better place, and she had survived a crisis which she gained strength from. This was a strength that carried her through the tough times, and made her grateful for the good times. And yes, although it was not a fairy-tale kind of happy, she did live happily ever after.