The Towers stretch high into the sky as I pass through the city gates. Guardsmen who I recognize bow to me not out of recognition, but out of courtesy for a visitor to the City of Towers. I walk the streets that I once knew, everything exactly as I had left it and yet completely different. I gaze up to see curtains being pulled back as the tower dwellers stare down at me in curiosity, hoping they’ve found a new visitor with whom to share their wealth of knowledge. The sheen of their white robes reflect in the sunlight. They are ones I knew, but they do not see that it is me.
Though I suppose that is to be expected.
I’m no longer the same as when I left.
I wander toward my old Tower, pausing along the way to wave at those I pass. Some smile and return the wave while others give a wary look at my gray traveling cloak. I chuckle to myself, but grow somber as it looms ahead of me.
How long has it been?
The shape is still there, soaring above me. But there are things I notice that I didn’t before. The tower does not have the same sheen it once did. In fact, it seems quite dull as I compare it to what it was before I left. What’s more is that the foundations are cracked, something in my pride that I never noticed before. I shake my head at the reflection that one strong push could send this Tower tumbling now.
“Can I help you?” a voice asks.
I turn around to see a Young Expert approaching me. How strange.
I smile and bow my head in deference. “I am simply passing through,” I reply.
The Young Expert looks me up and down. “We don’t get many Strangers passing through these days.”
I nod. “Why would they?”
“Why, to learn from our great wisdom and knowledge!” they declare.
“And what they want is locked away in these Towers?” I ask.
They look startled. “Where else would it be?”
I close my eyes, remembering that moment long ago. That moment when the fog began to roll in and the discontent began to settle. When I open my eyes, I smile. They have the same look in their eyes. The same look I had so long ago.
I point to the Tower. “What happened to the one who lived here?”
The Young Expert shrugs. “No one knows for sure. One day the Expert who lived there was just…gone.”
“What happened to their knowledge?”
“As per the Law of Expertise, it was questioned, dismantled, disproven, and shown to be incorrect in its basic assumptions. The knowledge was then dispersed amongst the other Experts of the city to do with as they will.”
I laughed. All that work, for nothing?
The Young Expert gives me a look. “Why are you laughing?”
“My friend, I spent my whole life amassing that knowledge only for it to be lost. How are you not laughing?”
Their eyes grow wide. “W-Wait. You’re the Expert?”
I shake my head. “I haven’t been called that in I don’t know how long. I don’t go by that moniker anymore.”
“Where did you go? Why did you leave? Who are you now? I have so many questions!”
“And I don’t have all the answers,” I laugh again.
They look at me in confusion.
I gesture at the city around me. “Once I lived here amongst the Experts, but I grew discontent with my life. I felt there was so much more out there, but I was afraid to take the step.”
I see the Pilgrim in my mind.
“What is the most important step?”
My Journeys play like a reel in my mind’s eye.
“I Journeyed through the fog, stayed for a time at Knowing’s Edge, and was carried by the great river of grace and to the place of Peace. I have met many Travelers and Pilgrims and Wanderers, all seeking, but never fully arriving. For each stop is but a waypoint to something else.”
My friends at Knowing’s Edge flash across my mind.
“Ever searching, but never fully arriving. Not yet at least. And that’s okay.”
“What were you searching for?”
“What we all search for: An understanding of who I am.”
“And who are you?”
I smile and look them in the eye. “Young Expert, begin the Journey anew. The City of Towers is not where your heart belongs. Like my own knowledge, one day what you held so dear will be lost to time. We are but a breath in this world.”
I see tears in their eyes. So much is built on that foundation.
“There is much to be seen and done outside of the walls. All it takes is an adventurous spirit, a humble heart, and a companion with whom to begin the Journey.”
I can see the Young Expert trembling. I’ve struck a chord in their heart. I hold out my walking staff for them to take.
“Come, my friend. The Journey and your Transformation wait beyond Knowing’s Edge.”
They hesitate a moment before shakily taking my staff. “What should I call you?”
I smile and give them the name I searched for so long ago. A name that I strove for with all of who I am, clawing my way to the top. But it is a name I feared, one I never felt worthy of until I finally undertook the Journey – one I’m still not fully comfortable with, but I’m learning. It is a name that carries with it the trials and tribulations of the Journey, one that instills Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love.
It is the name that looks beyond accomplishments, beyond the Tower I built around myself to make myself worthy.
It is the name that the One Who Calls has given me.