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Shadow Walker awoke before dawn. He looked over at Many Paths, grateful for her, for the healing of life that had finally mended his leg, for the people he lived among. His imprisonment in the Great Walled City of the Z-Lotz had shown him that not all tribes are built on love and trust and truth. 

He smiled at Many Paths. He was sorely tempted to gently awaken her, but instead decided to treat her to some fresh blackberries. He had noticed some along the long, hidden path that now connected the Veritas here with those who lived on the other side of the mountain. He arose quietly and slipped out the front of their cabin when a thought occurred to him. The writing that Tu-Swift had discovered need not be limited to books. 

Shadow Walker softly stole back inside and wrote a simple note and put it beside Many Paths. He smiled as he imaged her awakening, not seeing Shadow Walker but then noticing that he had left a token of his love that could actually be read by his love. Every time he thought of it, he felt amazed all over again at this business of writing and reading. 

He stopped by Tu-Swift’s cabin on the off chance Tu-Swift was also up early. Shadow Walker thought that perhaps he should really think of it now as the cabin of Tu-Swift and Cat Eyes. They were obviously in love, but, perhaps more importantly, Tu-Swift could see that they worked well as a team. He smiled and thought of Many Paths. He whispered to himself, “Yes, Many Paths. We also make a good team.” 

The cabin of Tu-Swift and Cat Eyes was empty of people, but Shadow Walker immediately spied a piece of birchbark with writing symbols on it. The two of them had gotten up early and started on their translation work at nearby overlook which caught the rays of the rising sun. Behind a natural rock table, what was nearly a perfect semi-circle of granite cliff reflected the rays making it a pleasant place where the dew lifted more quickly than other places. So, it was here they made their workshop for their most serious work. Sometimes, they did their work in the most public parts of the Veritas villages so that others could see what they were up to, ask questions, and learn. They didn’t mind having their work interrupted to answer questions. At the same time, to them, the quest for knowledge was a passion, not just because they of their thirst for knowledge, but multiplied by the overwhelming premonition they shared that just as terrible things had happened before, they would again — unless, perhaps — they might be able to piece things together so as to prevent making the same mistakes yet again. Some plants do well in full sunlight and much water. Others do getter in shade and little water. Sometimes, Cat Eyes and Tu-Swift needed to focus on understanding in a deep way. Those deep roots would not grow with constant interruption; hence, the special area. 

Shadow Walker picked his blackberries that morning without human companionship. That hardly means he was alone. He picked early enough to hear a concert of his songful birdish cousins. Shadow Walker could see many of his smaller cousins as well {Translator’s Note: This is what we would call:} : ants, spiders, aphids, ladybugs, butterflies, a walking stick, several snails, and a cricket. When berry picking is a full time job, the experience is, no doubt, completely different. What Shadow Walker experienced, as an adult, was precisely the joy that any small child feels as they pick berries for the first time, marveling in the fresh, sweet, rich taste as the teeny bubbles burst syrupy goodness onto your tongue.

Shadow Walker also still felt the joy of the attention-demanding weave of hands so as to capture the berry but avoid the sharp prickers, and he still felt joy from the knowledge that he was doing his part; contributing something to family, community, and himself. In Shadow Walker’s experience of the moment, all of that was still fully there. In addition, he thought of it also as a present for the woman he loved with all his heart. 

Perhaps that is partly why, when he had plenty of berries to fulfill his contribution to the anticipated breakfast with Many Paths, he continued to pick berries until late morning. Plenty of other people in the village could share in the fruit and some might dry some of the berries for much later. 

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When Shadow Walker did arrive back, much later than he had originally intended, he heard soft crying from within. His mood slid from a bright yellow joy to a dark purple sadness because that is what he received from Many Paths. 

He knelt down beside her, took her hands gently into his and asked, “What on earth is wrong?”

She looked up, sighed, and looked into Shadow Walker’s face. She knelt down and wrapped her arms around him, holding him tightly to her, not with the energy necessary to signal another person that you like them or even the energy of a hug that lingers because it feels good. This was more like the hug of someone holding onto a tree limb or an overhang — holding on for dear life.

Shadow Walker knew the difference. At last, Many Paths released her hold, sat back up and smiled at him. She began,  

“Thank you for leaving me the note!” 


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The Myths of the Veritas: The First Ring of Empathy

A Pattern Language for Collaboration and Cooperation

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