Looking up at the sky

Sam's Journey to Enlightenment

Land of Down

Once upon a time, in the Land of Down, a unique little creature called the So-Jo lived.

So-Jos were magnificent and colorful bird-like creatures. Each one had a unique pattern on its belly. So-Jos loved to walk through the grass and trees but always looked out for their mortal enemy, the feral cat.

hunting cat

This fear caused many of them to grow a deep and unhealthy paranoia. They lived in villages and cities, with family and friends. They ate nuts and berries, drank from rivers and puddles. So-Jos were not very flexible creatures. They could only see from the top of their heads to what was below their feet.

What makes a So-Jo so unique is that on their 21st birthday, they have a ritual called the Oa. During this time, all the So-Jos flock together. They spend days searching for the bird with the closest belly pattern to their own.

Once they have found a similar way, they are connected to that So-Jo with a bungy like a rope. This material is flexible and indestructible. Once the So-Jos are connected, it is excruciating to cut the cord. Often, to cut the cord means the weaker of the So-Jo will get mortally wounded.

Sam and Matilda

In the Land of Down lived two So-Jo named Matilda and Sam. Matilda was the fastest runner in their community. She always won the city's daily food races, meaning their family always had enough to not have to forage. Across the river lived Sam.

To survive, his family ate a few seeds and berries produced by local bushes. He was just an average runner but was always curious and would spend days laying in the grass looking at the eagles flying overhead. Always wish he learn to fly.

The Eagles

The eagles seemed very similar to a So-Jo but had large graceful wings allowing them to fly. The eagles even spoke a similar dialect as the So-Jo. Among the So-Jo's, a general belief was that if a So-Jo lived a good life and followed the rules, that when they died, they would become an eagle that soars up in the clouds. However, one day when Sam was young, his grandma told him a story differed from the general belief. He told Sam that Eagles are just So-Jos that found their wings.


Just after Matilda and Sam were joined at the Oa, an eagle named Ed appeared in front of Sam. And introduced himself and said he was looking forward to working with Sam. And just as quick as he appeared, Ed was gone. Ed started appearing more often and telling Sam stories of where he'd been and what he'd seen. After thinking of his grandmother's words, Sam asked Ed where he found his wings? Unfortunately, Sam couldn't understand Ed's dialect well enough to know where the wings were.

On Matilda and Sam's 2nd year of being joined, Ed randomly appeared and asked Sam if he wanted to learn how to fly like an eagle. Ed said he'd be back to teach him. A year later, Ed showed up with stone with some unique writing. Sam could make out some of the words on it, whereas Matilda saw scratches that looked randomly like letters. It wrote about how eagles didn't find wings, but they were made with them.

The following year, Ed showed up asking Sam if he'd found his wings yet. "Of course not. I don't know where to find them," Ed told Sam to search inside himself. For the next few years, Ed looked everywhere, trying to find the "Wings" that Ed spoke about. On a fall afternoon, Ed discovered that he could move both sides of his belly if he thought just right! He'd found his wings! The marking on his stomach was where the feathers came together. He was ecstatic! However, Matilda didn't believe him because his wings were above their heads, and Matilda couldn't see them.

Pain of Falling

Nothing was going to stop Sam from learning how to fly. He spent months testing and moving the wings and became more familiar with their movements.

looking down a tree

One day, Sam decided to climb a tree and jumped out. As Matilda predicted, he fell straight to the ground. He got right back up and did it again. At the end of the day, Sam was batter and bruised. Matilda thought he was crazy. She couldn't understand why he'd put himself through the pain of disappearing up a tree and then jumping out with the dreams of learning to fly. After several more months of jumping out of trees, Sam started to learn how to glide! He was ecstatic about his progress… But was still miles from learning how to soar like the eagles. One afternoon, Ed showed up and told Sam the secret to flying. "You can't just spread your wings and expect to fly. The energy to fly comes from inside of you, not from the wind or from jumping!" Sam doubled his focus. He was going to learn to fly like the eagles. He started figuring out new muscles that resulted in an odd flapping sensation. Soon, Sam was able to flap his wings and create enough lift-off that he could lift off the ground.

The Connection

Sam tried telling Matilda about the fantastic discovery that he'd made, but not seeing above her head, she couldn't comprehend him. Sam soon mastered the take-off and began working on flying higher. Sam found a point where he couldn't get much higher than the trees because of the connection rope with Matilda was completely stretched out! Sam was devastated. He'd make all this progress but couldn't make it much farther. The connection with Matilda was holding him back. He had an idea. What if he taught Matilda how to fly with him. That way, they could make it above the trees together! Unfortunately, Matilda wanted nothing to do with flying. She was a runner, the best. Not a dreamer. She had mastered the only thing that mattered, and it brought them food. Sam was devastated. He didn't know what to do. He knew that breaking their connection could seriously injure one of them. Sam didn't know what to do… He learned to care and depend on Matilda.


Then one day, Ed showed up. Sam was so excited to tell Ed of what he'd discovered. He showed him how he could fly to the treetops. That's when he saw it… noticing Ed's wings for the first time. He realized it! Ed is not an eagle. He's just a So Jo he likes himself! Excitedly, Sam asked Ed asked where his connection was. Ed smiled and continued telling him how to decouple his connection without hurting Matilda, "The power is in your mind, find and detach it." After some thought, Sam figured out how to disconnect the connection with Matilda. And for the first time, he flew higher than the trees, feeling free and refreshed! But, he worried that Matilda would notice that the connection was broken, so he quickly landed. Unphased, she looked at Sam as if nothing had happened and continued talking about the latest sightings of cats.

The Simple Truth

He did it!

Sam learned the secret of the eagles. He had the power and means within himself all these years. As Sam learned how to fly higher, he met more and more eagles like himself and Ed. On one fall flight, he met two eagles that were still connected. He asked them how they could fly together. They said, "oh, we both learned together. Ever since then, we've traveled the world, finding the most delicious berries, nuts, and all other foods together. When one of us gets tired, the other takes the lead to lighten the load." The conversation with the two eagles left Sam a little empty. He'd always wanted to fly like an eagle. Now he wanted to share the magnificent experience with Matilda. If they could both fly, she could stop worrying about the annoying cats!

One afternoon, Sam was soaring in the clouds above his hometown when he recognized a familiar face. One of the older and well-respected So-Jo's from his community, Osh. They quickly struck a conversation when Osh asked Sam how long he'd been flying. Sam told him of his personal journey to find his wings and Ed's help.

Osh smiled and said, "Ed did well. When I first asked him to reach out to you years ago, I didn't know how you would respond. But you have done magnificently!" "Wait, you sent Ed," asked Sam. "Yes," said Osh. "Ever since you were young, I noticed you laying on the ground watching me fly through the clouds. I knew that you would always seek me out if I reached out directly. But, by sending Ed as your guide, you were forced to discover how to find your wings and fly yourself. Now you are amongst the greatest of your kind." Sam pondered on that conversation for weeks. One day Sam met Osh again up in the clouds. Sam asked Osh, "If he could help guide Matilda to discover how to fly." "Until Matilda learns to lay down and look up, she'll never truly understand what it means to fly. Learning to transcend into an eagle is a long and painful personal journey. Until she is ready, there is nothing any eagle can do other than be patient and support her along her way," Osh said. "Most So Jo never learns to lay down and lookup. It's not in our nature. We are not a flexible species. This means that our loved ones will live out their days with the hope and belief that they might finally be transcended into an eagle when they die. Sadly that is far from the truth, but maybe someday, the So Jo's from the Land of Down will learn to lay down and look up as you did. Until then, we must accept this truth and help the individuals that have learned to look up".

Break that chain and learn to fly!
Break that chain and learn to fly!

The End?