Freedom to Choose by Guy Velnick

He is traveling alone on a treacherous path as he moves from the Village of Facticity past the Valley of Doubt; making his way through the Mountains of Human Prejudice, and then swimming the deep Lake of Biased Intention. These Place-Names and Others may be encountered along the way. But, it is where the Large Perplexing Oak Tree grows right in the middle of the road, or rather where it forks, that this Myth is said to have been born. According to Legend there is no way, regardless of the path chosen, to circumvent this fork. It MUST always be encountered along whatever route is taken and so it is no surprise when he comes upon it on his way to The Land of Destiny. This Towering Oak at the fork in the road is where the “Myth” is said to have originated.

It was he who upon reaching this Oak Tree stopped to rest, and sitting on a rock, pondered which fork in the road to take. After quite a while, “Ah-ha” he exclaimed, “I have the solution!”

As the tale goes the man had reasoned that if he climbed the Towering Oak Tree, it was so enormous, he would certainly be able to see which of the two paths to take; which of the two roads whose fork he was now at, led to the most advantage; thus which might be more efficacious in leading him to the most desirable of two destinations. So he began his climb proud of himself for having come up with such a wise plan

Soon as he climbed the tree he came to a place where the tree trunk split into two large branches, and so he had to choose which one of the two branches to take as he could not climb both. He did so choosing the one over the other. However, when he advanced, again the tree split and so another decision was required which he made. Then again and again; the limbs branched and choices made. “But at least”, he thought “I am advancing, and soon I will be high enough in the tree to see what lay at the end of each fork in the road. Then I will make my decision!”

As he climbed higher up he found that his choices along the way DID allow him to see better, but only down one of the two paths. For the higher he climbed, with each choice, the more one destination came into view; but also, the more obscured the destination at the end of the other path became. His inability to clearly see the second destination was due to the thickness of leaves and branches, the vines and other foliage, all of which now stood between him and a clear view of the alternate destination.

He climbed and climbed making more and more decisions at each forking branch, all to forestall , in the name of making the best choice, the wiser choice, as to which road to take. In hoping to make a more informed choice he had chosen the tree of infinitely forked branches, the Tree of Irony. It had not occurred to him until he was VERY high in the tree’s bifurcating limbs, that he had chosen the path of infinite forks in order to better know what choice to make. Now with each choice the one destination became somewhat clearer, but the other much harder for him to articulate, less distinct and far more obscured by all that now imposed itself between he and it.

At one point now high above the ground, according to the myth, the man realized due to the obfuscation of one of the destinations that climbing the Perplexing Oak Tree was NOT the path to making a better choice after all. Disappointed, before beginning the long dangerous descent to the base of the tree, where the original fork in the road split, he had decided to write a note to himself lest he forget what he had learned. As he began his way down he whispered, as if to comfort himself, “at least I have learned something.” And he pinned this note to his chest and began the long descent!

According to myth, in the end the man was found hanging by his feet, upside down no longer alive, swaying in the wind from a thick branch of the Huge Oak.

From the distance a Wizard approaches. This scene of the man hanging upside down by his feet becomes so etched in the Wizard’s mind that it burns itself onto a card in the Wizard’s pocket. Later the Wizard dips a feather in the Blackest Ink and names it with Calligraphy. This card has existed for generations and still today is seen. It is a reminder to all who seek to find clues into an unknowable future. WE see this card in Tarot Decks. The Card: “The Hanged Man.”

Eventually some travelers came upon the scene and have the decency to cut the swaying body down. They could do no more than wonder about a note found pinned to the fellows chest. How it had gotten there? What it meant? The note read: “The choice of the man who does not choose.”

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