The ancients told the story of young warriors determined to know all and, through that knowledge, to gather all power for themselves.
The warriors, so the story goes, reasoned that, if they could find out where the sun lives and see what the sun does at home, they would use that knowledge to make themselves absolute rulers.
They gathered their bows and arrows, packed plenty of corn and extra moccasins and started out toward the west, where the sun goes to sleep each night.
They met tribes they knew at first, and as they traveled on, met tribes about which they’d only heard, and as they continued to travel, met people they’d never heard of. But, with each meeting, the young warriors were warned that their quest was not a righteous one, and from it nothing good could come.
They met a tribe of root eaters and another tribe of acorn eaters and they noticed how content these tribes were, because they wanted for nothing more. “Ha,” said the warriors to themselves. “How foolish are these people to be content only with what they have. We will soon have all the knowledge and all the power.”
They traveled on; far, far, toward the west, until they came to a great place of water where the sky reaches down to the ground. They found that the sky was an arch of solid rock, hung above the Earth. The sky arch was always swinging up and down, so that when it went up, there was an opening, like a door, between the sky and the ground. When it swung back, the door was shut.
The sun traveled along the inside of the sky arch each day. It had a human form, but was too bright for them to see very clearly, and it was too hot for them to come very near.
They realized that they now knew the key and plotted to go with the sun one evening and learn where it slept. That, they reasoned, would give them the knowledge to become all-powerful and rule their own tribe and all the tribes they’d met along the journey.
They waited and watched seven nights and learned of the sun’s path and observed the swinging sky vault. They decided to wait one evening until the sun slipped through the door, and then follow him quickly, before the sky arch door could close again. On the appointed night, the warriors gathered.
The first warrior charged in after the sun, but the path was farther and more difficult than he expected, and the sky arch swung closed, crushing him with its mighty weight. The other warriors stood in shock and awe and became very frightened, as the sky arch crushed their fellow warrior and rumbled and shook, threatening to collapse around them.
It was at that moment they understood the folly of their quest. They thought of the tribes they’d met who were content with their own peace. But, it was too late for the warriors. By then, they had traveled so far that they were old men and could not return home, and thus, lost everything.
Steve Hart is a sailor, angler, explorer, raconteur, amateur citrus-grower and semi-professional theologian who masqueraded as a Florida journalist and pundit for the last 25 years. A fifth-generation Floridian, Hart comes from solid cracker stock but revels in the changing face of 21st century Florida and its patchwork quilt of people, their cultures, traditions, shades and ideas. His book, “Tales from Down Yonder, Florida,” is available in local bookstores and on the Web at downyonderflorida.com.