Then one day a bird came along. Except the bird was a woman? She spoke as one. She told of how she had also ascended a mountain once and had made many trips back down to bring Others with her. Until the day she started flying.
Many listened with wonder and awe at her tales until she mentioned this. The people of The Mountain knew much of their Mountain, and knew that what the bird said was not possible. They recited the teachings and beliefs that their parents had taught them years before about their ascension. When the bird spoke of the beauty of the other mountain peaks, they spoke of how their own was obviously the most beautiful. When the bird spoke of the extraordinary height of other mountains, they told of how theirs was beyond doubt the highest. Before long, the shouts of the people of the mountain were enough to shake the very ground they stood upon. The tremors shook the trees and sent avalanches of rock and earth down onto those climbing the Mountain below. But the shouting only grew louder. Soon the bird took to flight, and wept that because of her wings, her own family could not recognize her anymore.
Some people hid the tales of the bird away in their hearts, and never forgot how true they felt. Some refused that feeling and set about vigorously studying the Mountain, scoffing at the poor creature who would not believe what they knew so well. Others, however, started to practice balancing on one foot. Soon they would run and jump, and jump higher each time. Before long they could balance on a single toe, and then leap effortlessly higher than they had ever believed possible. Some even began to believe they could fly.
The Others did not take well to this. They grabbed at the feet of those who leaped higher than they thought was safe. They reminded them of how beautiful the Mountain was, and how it was all they would ever need. But some could no longer ignore the calling of the bird’s tale. Led by their hearts, they snuck down the Mountain at night and never returned. Others returned weeks later, beaten and robbed by the people of the walls. Others went down and began building walls of their own. Before long the people of the Mountain stopped descending to try to bring Others to the peak.
One night, a young man who had hidden the tales of the bird in his heart could no longer ignore them. They scratched at the back of his mind deep into the night. He could no longer call untrue that which felt just as true, if not truer, than what he had been taught about the Mountain. Under the cover of darkness, he crept just beyond the sight of the people and climbed to the highest point of the highest rock. Then he jumped.
He expected to fall. He expected to feel the rocks below him crashing into his feet, and then his knees, then the flesh of his naked hands as gravity and the Mountain angrily thrashed him for questioning them.
But no wind rushed past his feet and up into his face, as it had with every other fall. He felt only that the Wind was present, helping him. Waiting for him. He reached into his memories and, seeing the bird, waved his arms in her manner. It happened naturally. The Wind gently bolstered the young bird, taking him onto his shoulders and nudging him ever so lovingly, yet firmly beyond each new height.
The new bird finally looked down at the ground, and as the last chains of fear fell from his ankles, he felt an overwhelming sadness. He knew he would never walk again.