“I don’t think I can die, Estriilde,” Gryff said, his first words since the peak of the bridge.
“You’ve pickled your head in wine,” Estriilde replied. They hurried toward her tent, so close to being free of the wind.
“It’s not the wine. It’s the sunwield. I don’t believe it will let me die.”
“We all die, Farmer.” Her cloak opened as wide as wings, and she flew ahead. He plodded behind her, entering the dark tent as she fumbled to light her brazier. Sparks flinted to life, and the fire began its fight to banish the cold. He sank onto a stool as Estriilde sat back on her heels and studied him. “Every one of us dies in our time.”
He drew on the cord around his neck. The medallion rose from inside his shirt and hung exposed on his chest. She shuffled forward on her knees, close to him, and caught the bronze disk in her hand, silently counting.
“You have seventeen left.” Her gaze rose to meet his eyes. “That time may pass in moons or years. Every one of us side-steps death without a glimmer of awareness. We are a moment early or late before the arrow flies; we decide not to swim, to travel a lesser road. We aren’t hungry the day the food spoils; we leave the house before the roof collapses. We decide to ride the wild stallion the morning the placid gelding breaks a leg.” -Sunwielder
I wrote Sunwielder eight years ago, and since then “sunwielder moments” have become a mainstay of my household vocabulary.
Sunwielder moments aren’t always those instances when a decision prevents unknowable catastrophe. How many times would each of us have died if not for the minute choices that led us down alternative paths? It’s a question without a reply.
Side-stepping unknowable death stirs a sense of destiny. Yet, for my husband and I, sunwielder moments tend to rise from our reflection on the choices that were pivotal in steering our lives. Each road traveled required another passed by. What if he or I had turned the other way?
There are thousands of them, long strings of seemingly inconsequential forks in the road that brought us to where we are now. Alter one, only one, and the dominoes would have cascaded down completely different paths. Even the wrong turns, the miserable things that happened in our pasts, contributed to where we are now.
If you think about it, the billions of choices made by your collective ancestors led to YOU. If a prehistoric youngster hadn’t chosen to clean the scratch on his arm, you might not exist.
Sunwielder moments extend beyond our individual lives as our power of choice impacts the lives of others. We may be the catalyst that unwittingly saves a life, transforms a future, or reaps despair. Even if ultimate outcomes rest on thousands of choices and influences, why not choose the path of kindness. You never know where that road will lead.
In Sunwielder, Estriilde focuses on the present — the past unchangeable and future unknowable. Easier said than done. As humans, we tend to spend much of our lives peering over our shoulders and inventing the scenery ahead. Randy and I are no exceptions to the rule.
Yet, as we grow, our sunwielder moments reside more frequently in our present. They appear on the cusp of choices, as we attempt to peek into the future and catch glimpses of how each decision may sway the trajectory of our lives and the lives of those we come in contact with. We attempt to live with more awareness of the gift and power of choice. For we, unlike Gryff and his sunwield, can’t journey back in time and travel the path unchosen.
Do you contemplate the sunwielder moments of your past? Do you choose with an eye on the trajectory of your future?