There was once a little girl who lived in the sky. She played with all manner of birds during the day and at night when she was tired of playing hopscotch among the stars, she would say good night to the moon and make her bed in the clouds. Nestled in the night air, undisturbed by the traffic and the bright, flashing lights, she slept soundly.
But sometimes, she got lonely. She would drift from cloud to cloud, closer and closer to the ground, until she landed in the treetops. On days when she was feeling particularly brave, she would venture down into the branches to get a closer look at the people below. She especially liked watching the little people. She liked the light in their eyes, and the wonder that lingered in their movements. The larger people often scared her. So many of their eyes were flat. It seemed to her that they must all be blind, because they passed through the world without ever really seeing it, too busy with the workings of their minds to stop even for a moment to appreciate life’s little joys.
As time went on the little girl became less and less afraid of the larger people and instead began to develop a terrible sadness at their predicament. She had assumed that they were blind, but at times she saw them move in ways that made that impossible. She could not understand how they could walk through the world without seeing it. Did they know how much they were missing?
One day the sadness was too much and the little girl did something she had never done before. She climbed all the way down from her tree and placed her feet on solid ground. She stood there and waited for one of the larger people to walk by. When one did, a woman, she watched her from behind the trunk of the tree, waited until the woman was a safe distance away, then the little girl walked behind her, keeping pace so as not to lose her.
The woman entered a tiny home, only big enough for one, and the little girl peered at her through the window, hoping to see the glimmer of joy that had been absent in all the other larger people she had seen, but there was none. Day after day, the little girl looked in on the woman, waiting for something that would ease her sadness.
The woman had no companions, not even a pet with which to share the day’s events. Everyday for her was the same. It seemed to the little girl that the woman had somehow forgotten or perhaps never perhaps never knew, that each day regardless of any pending special event or happening, was something to look forward to, and every morning, no matter the weather or your personal circumstances, your first wakeful breath was a reason to smile. After days of observing the woman, the little girl felt she must intervene.
That day as the woman passed the tree from which the little girl had first observed her, the little girl stepped in front of her, reached out her arm, and said, “Stop.” The woman was so startled at the sudden appearance of the little girl that she froze. The little girl took the woman’s hand and led her to the grass nearby. She tugged on her hand and they sat. Then the little girl said, “Look.”
With just that word the woman began to see and hear and feel things she had never noticed before. She heard the slight rustle of the leaves and the low hum of the insects’ song. Every now and then a bird would sing and she would hear the soft beating of its wings. The woman felt the sun on her face and lay down in the grass, so she could embrace its warmth with her whole person. The soft, sweet smell of wildflowers wafted into her nose on a breeze and she could almost taste them in the crisp air as it flitted through her slightly parted lips.
The woman whispered, “So this is what joy is like,” and the little girl smiled. This act of seeing so lifted the woman’s spirit that she rose into the sky with the little girl, laughing with every cloud they passed. The woman never missed her life on the ground, and the little girl was never lonely again.