The old man

When I was young an ancient told me that time destroys all things, and that the slow crumbling passage of years makes a mockery of all that men seek to do. I laughed in his face with the invincibility of youth. Yet even now, as the shadows grow and I feel every cold winter’d biting cold more keenly than the last, I still know better than to believe those miserable words which would render all of our loves and triumphs to naught.
I have lived a good life, but not one of note. I was a soldier for many years, and then a librarian for many more. Most of my friends are long gone, even my beloved wife gone in her sleep five years ago. I keep company with wolves and the singing voice of the wind in my home, high among the tallest peaks. My life has meant little. Yet I do not believe it was in vain.
I have walked with giants.
Perhaps time will eat away their names from the books, from the memories of the living and their children. Perhaps all that they stood for, their spilled blood and their nobility will fade from the rude minds of men. But I know that time can never destroy what they were and what they did. Their names will come, a thousand centuries hence, whispered on the mountain winds and the warm summer breezes, and in the gentle lapping currents of the Solar Sea.
Xariel. Kalmar. Nestlor. Bachnarr. Sternhammer. Their names will whisper among the stones and through the trees, and even after all that I know is gone and the Solar Sea is changed beyond recognition, those half-remembered names will caress the weary souls of the desperate, the downtrodden and just. They will feel the warmth and resolve that I feel as I hear those names sighed from the past, even if they do not understand why.
And they will know, as I know, that life, be it long or short, is never in vain for those who have fought for that which is right, for that eternal truth that no man can change and that every man knows in his heart. A man might live as a king for a thousand years and yet be as a pale shadow if he cowers away and satisfies only himself. A peasant who lifts his spade for one shining moment against a tyrant will be a blazing light, and though his life may then be measured in heartbeats, he will have lived more truly than any who amass riches or prestige can understand.
I have walked with men who always raised the spade to the tyrant. And better, men who made us all realise that we could do so. Men who made us forget our fearing ways and uphold that which is good and right. Men who made us understand that pain and death are nothing to those who stand in the light.
Men who, in the shortest time, could give the self-serving and mediocre a strength, a resilience and a faith that could give purpose to the most empty life, and give forever a warmth which no chill can hope to touch.
Here, in the quiet places, wherever the ignorance of men may be blocked out for a few moments, their names will whisper throughout the ages, that their memory, their spirit may never die.
Truly, I have walked with giants.

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Published in: on January 1, 2009 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

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