A Guest Blog by Karen Barrett
When PB arrived in England, he was even more excited and inspired than when he had left. After meeting the elders, he now felt he had confidence to say what he really wanted to say, he had resilience to face the mistakes he had once tried to ignore, and courage to follow those who motivated him to think at a deeper level. Before he set off, he picked up his suitcase and tied his scarf a little tighter (it was colder here this time round).
There were so many paths to choose from, he had to concentrate on which ones he and his mother had taken all those months ago. He tried to ask for directions but, at only 10 centimetres tall, it was proving difficult. Nevertheless, he was determined, and he knew that challenges were not meant to be easy. He knew he should be heading west, but the journey seemed to be taking longer than he remembered. Had he gone too far on this path?
The night was drawing in, and the roads were getting narrower, the hedges taller, and the smell of sheep, cows and wild horses was strong now. There were some rocks up ahead, perched on top of a large hill which he headed towards. The sun was setting as he walked alongside what looked like old, weathered tram lines hidden in the dirt, until eventually he lost sight of them and stumbled upon a damp and mysterious woodland. Even though he was intrigued by the smell of the moss-covered trees with their angry, gnarled branches overhead, he knew he had taken a wrong path, or had he?
“I am lost”, he said aloud, matter-of-factly, as he sat on the nearest tree root. Immediately, he sensed he was not alone.
“You are never lost; you have just not yet accepted the path that you have taken.”
PB’s back straightened and his eyes widened. He tried to open his ears wider if that was even possible. His fur stood up on end, and he realized he was holding his breath. And then he heard the voice again.
“You are on the moor. Not many find us here, but there must be a reason you have. Follow me.”
It was so dark. PB had to focus to find his words.
“But I cannot see where I am going. I might fall!”
“Yes, you might fall, but falling down gives you the opportunity to climb back up again, stronger and wiser.”
PB had to encourage his legs to work. He stood up and managed only four steps before he felt the ground disappear beneath him. He fell backwards and slid down a steep, muddy bank.
“Are you ok?”, said the voice.
“I made a mistake and took one step too many.”
“There are no mistakes.”
“My bottom disagrees.”
PB looked around trying to find where the voice was coming from. The voice was gentle and reminded him of the elders back home.
He got up, brushed himself down, and tried to feel for his suitcase; he also noticed he had lost his bag with his green shoes inside on the way down.
The night sky was blacker than black now, and the air was bitter cold. It was obvious the sun’s warmth never penetrated the dense canopy above. He felt a little anxious, but this scenario felt eerily familiar to him. He had taken a risk, willingly, but it was not frightening at all.
A glow appeared in front of him. It was warm and inviting like a candle but, instead of flickering, it was constant. PB walked towards it and came face to face with a figure. Instead of feeling scared and running the other way, he embraced his mistake and demonstrated the life lessons he had worked so hard to discover.
With confidence, he asked, “Who are you, and where do you come from?”
With resilience, he asked, “Why did you let me fall?”
And with courage, he asked, “Do you have anything to teach me?”
The figure smiled. He liked PB’s spirit straight away.
“I am a moor monster, we have always lived in this place, and where we come from is another story entirely. I did not let you fall, you chose your path willingly, I encouraged you to follow me, then you found yourself here. And, if you pay attention to the details, yes, there is a lot to learn. Now, stay here tonight and we will talk more in the morning.”
The next day, he was introduced to another six moor monsters and was invited to spend a day with each one, learning all about them. And each day ended with them giving him a different gift relating to their strength:
The first moor monster gave PB a red spiral bound book filled with tips on how to be responsible. The second moor monster gave him an orange notebook listing examples of his hard work. The third moor monster gave him a yellow scrapbook full of pictures of their most fun times. The fourth moor monster gave him a green diary confessing all his mistakes, and the lessons he had learned from them. The fifth moor monster gave him a blue storybook telling the extraordinary tale of how they had got here, and why they were so loyal and passionate about their Sense of Purpose. The sixth moor monster gave him a purple wallet with some unusual coins tucked inside. And the moor monster he had first met, gave him a long pink ribbon, a token of their newfound friendship.
During his stay, he was confused why the moor monsters had never tried to escape, but he did not want to question their way of life, nor suggest they were unadventurous. If only he had not lost his green shoes, he could have helped everyone out. PB had enjoyed their company, but he was starting to feel a little trapped.
First thing in the morning, PB asked the moor monsters if they would help him continue his journey which they agreed to. PB thanked them all for their hospitality and went to pack his suitcase. He picked up his gifts which were all so heavy and towered one on top of the other, leaning against his chest and swaying above his head.
They came with him to the steep, muddy bank but, as he approached, he felt something brush across his back at such speed that it made him trip and fall forwards; his books tumbling in front of him. PB closed his eyes in preparation for his fall, but the books were not his cushion; that much was obvious when he tasted mud. He opened his eyes to find the books were not scattered in front of him where he had expected. Instead, they were in a pile, up against the bank, creating what looked like a series of steps. How on earth did they land like that? he thought.
“You thought you had taken one step too many on that first night, but now you have taken one step too few.”
With only a slight hesitation, he chose to follow his own advice, ‘the only bad step is the one that does not happen.’ PB lifted his foot onto the bottom book with its red binder… it felt stable. He then stepped up again onto the notebook, and kept stepping up, using each book to help him get to the top. Once on the last ‘step’ in the pile, he still could not quite reach to pull himself up. He paused for a moment and thought.
‘Pay attention to the details’, the moor monster had said. And then he understood what to do.
He began tying one of the coins from the purple wallet onto the end of the pink ribbon in his pocket and used it to lasso round the tree root just above him. While climbing, he saw his lost bag wedged between two more tree roots, and inside were his green shoes.
“Be careful, it is muddy!”, he heard from below.
“Do not worry, I have green shoes”, and PB winked.
The moor monsters looked at each other and wondered how green shoes, or any colour shoes for that matter, would help him ascend this impossible, muddy path. But they trusted him, as he had trusted them, and they watched him disappear over the ridge and turn back to wave goodbye.
Before leaving, he called out tentatively, “Why have you never tried to escape?”
The moor monsters smiled in unison and one of them stepped forward.
“Do not assume; confirm” and, as his tummy started to glow, he began to float to prove that they were not trapped at all. They simply wanted PB to strengthen his learning by making connections of his own.
It took PB a while to accept what he had seen as he made his way back to the main path. He knew it would be a long walk so he took the opportunity to reflect upon his most recent adventure.
Given the choice, he would not change a thing about what had happened. Again, he had put himself in a position where he had to work hard to overcome a challenge and, again, he had achieved his best learning. No matter how many times he challenged himself, he knew there were no limits to learning. Each challenge was a step in the right direction. Next time, he thought, I should not ask myself, ‘am I on the right path?’, I should be asking, ‘have I walked on enough paths?’
Once he reached the cattle grid at the edge of the moor, he dug out his map, and headed south. He took out his trusty notebook and wrote down his latest insight:
‘Paths are for taking
Interesting things await
Time to make mistakes.’