All Other Ground – A Parable 2/16/2021

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by Parker J. Cole

Imagine you are walking on solid ground, surefooted without a care in the world. The reason why you don’t have a care in the world is because you are on solid ground. 

This solid ground is part of reality. 

Let’s say, someone puts down a flat wooden board on top of the solid ground. All’s well because the wooden board is supported by the solid ground you were walking on before. It doesn’t feel quite like the solid ground, but you know it’s there. 

Then, another person comes along and places a tight latticework of 2 x 4’s on top of the wooden board. The 2 x 4’s are close together although there are spaces in between. Not too big to affect stability but you tend to walk a little bit more cautiously on the latticework of 2 x 4’s. It’s not as solid as the solid ground, nor is it as strong as the flat wooden board. But you can still walk on top of it. 

Another person comes along and places a tictactoe grid of cork material on top of the latticework. The cork material is not as sturdy or structurally sound. You can tell as soon as you place your foot on it. Not to mention, the design layout doesn’t lend aid either. The spaces between are big enough for you to fall through. 

Let’s say, you find a balance and walk gingerly on the left side of the grid now. I imagine your arms are swinging, your movement impeded. Lots of hissing as you try to keep your balance. 

You take a moment while balancing on the cork to ask yourself a few questions: Why are you walking on cork when you used to walk on the solid ground? Why didn’t you protest when the wooden flat board was placed under your feet? Why did you keep going when latticework was introduced? How did you wind up walking on one side of a cork tictactoe foundation? 

As you assess the situation, you notice someone next to you standing a few feet higher. Surprised, you glance down at their foundation. On top of the cork is a diagonal beam made of glass. On top of the glass, you see a pair of stilts. The person is a few feet above you, but you are clearly aware that walking on stilts while walking on glass is not safe. 

The person walking on stilts looks down their nose at you. Thinking they’re above you mentally because in physicality they are standing over you. 

You say, “Hey, why are you walking on stilts?” 

They reply, “Why aren’t you? Everyone walks on stilts.” 

You answer back, “Walking on stilts and glass is silly. It’s not safe.” 

They laugh. “You have no idea what you’re talking about. Everyone walks on stilts.” 

That’s when you look around and notice many people are walking on stilts, some that tower above others to great heights. The higher the stilts are, the pressure on the glass beam increases and the greater likelihood of the glass breaking, which is the foundation of the stilts. 

Then you remember: your foundation is solid ground. 

You turn back around, “Hey, you do know you don’t have to walk on stilts. There’s solid ground there.” 

They look at you. “Solid ground? What’s that?” 

Your eyebrow arches in surprise. “You’ve never heard of solid ground? It means walking on your feet without ever having to walk on stilts.” 

The person is intrigued by the idea. “How can I walk on solid ground?” 

This is a conundrum now. You’re standing on one side of a cork grid, but their situation is worse than yours. You look and see others who are on taller stilts and realize that once that glass breaks, and it will, their fall will be catastrophic. 

You remember what solid ground felt like. You didn’t have a care in the world. Now how do you get out of the situation? The thing is that you can’t get out of the situation yourself.  

You cry out, “My friend and I are stuck. We need to get back to solid ground.” 

An old man appears with snowy white hair and flaming eyes. “Why did you leave solid ground?” He asks. 

You don’t have an answer. You saw the ground changing before your eyes and you never protested. What can you say? 

He shakes his head, kicks over the layers and just like that, you are back on solid ground. The shakiness you felt is gone. 

The old man looks at you. “You remember what solid ground feels like, but you kept accepting the new layers. The one next to you has never even known what solid ground feels like. They’re used to an unbalanced walk. 

The old man goes over to the one on stilts. “Do you want to get down from there?” 

I do.” 

The old man goes and comes back with a saw and cuts the stilts with one swift stroke. They cry out and start to fall but he catches them in his arms and sets their feet on solid ground for the first time. 

“I’m not shaking,” they say. “The ground isn’t cracking.” 

“This is what solid ground is,” the old man says. 

Behind you, you hear the splintering of glass and a cry of anguish before a wet muted thud hits solid ground. 

About the Author:

Parker J ColeParker J. Cole is a writer and radio show host who spends most of her time reading, knitting, writing, cooking, and concocting new ideas for stories. Her first novel, Dark Cherub, won Best of Spring Reading 2013 from eMediaCampaigns. She lives in Michigan with her husband and beloved dog Sarah.

Visit her site at http://www.ParkerJCole.com

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