The first time I ever experienced Journey, I was completely taken with it. The music, the artistic play, the story that truly seemed to be written by you as you played… It’s all so fantastic, and I was mesmerized, feeling like I was in a dream…!
And then, I found my very first fellow player, another with a cloak like mine, except it was white, golden etchings running all along its exterior. At that moment, I had no idea the importance of the white cloaks, how it symbolized someone who had gone through their own journey many a time over, having perhaps reaching some form of euphoric zen through it all. Truly, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case, but - at first - they didn’t even notice me… At first, as we traversed through the sand and went about our business, freeing cloth creatures from their cages and building bridges one powerful call at a time, it seemed I was invisible. For a while, I though I was…
That is, until we both sat to see our second vision, and their head turned, and - in that moment, at 4 o’clock in the morning - it felt like there was someone looking at me. Truly looking at me. Like, the type of gaze that someone gives another when trying to find their soul… and in that moment, before the vision began and it all went white, I felt honestly connected to a complete stranger, that I couldn’t even say hello to…
It was awe-inspiring.
Then, as we proceeded through our hardships, through the sands and the slopes, through finding living handkerchiefs trapped away and practically flying beside them, as we soared into what appeared to be the sea and snuck past malevolent beasts of metal and violence - tiny voices chirping in fear and soothing - this complete and utter stranger I knew I’d never even hear a word from became my guide… and my shoulder to rest on when scared of what was going to happen next.
But, there was one instance above all others where this person truly astounded me, a moment where everything seemed to suddenly disappear, everything leaving in the blink of an eye, to the point where I thought I’d be lost forever, alone, so close to the end…
…when I fell.
We were traversing through the wind and snow of the high peaks of the mountain. Our ribbons upon our hoods had already grown desperately short, and our bodies were crusted in cold, thick frost. We had been battered by the wind and haunted by the monsters that roamed ominously over the deceased pieces of their brethren. We had climbed so high, over stairs and rock, and as we finally reached the end, the dormant cloth bridge that he so easily glided across… I slipped.
I was suddenly plummeting - surprisingly far - down to the bottom of the cliff again. Down to the first stones that hid us tightly behind their backs as intervals of wind blew strong and fast through the snow-covered chasm, but not quite that far.
When I stopped, I had landed on a random outcropping of rock and snow, panicked by the fall (and by the possibility that I had now reached somewhere I could not escape from) and incredibly lost. I just started to turn and pace on the rock I landed on, too low to jump back up, too high to really get a good view, too small a space to see where I could go. I started to sound as hard as I could, but the winds carried away my little chirps, my calls of desperation, and one gust blew me from my rock, and tumbled me further down, like a leaf out of control in a storm… I landed harshly and was now even more lost, just starting to walk forward, trying to, but the further I walked, the whiter it got. I started to panic even more… Could I never get free? I turned around and tried to find some marker of where I was, but couldn’t see anything! I chirped again and again, holding my breath and letting out as loud a cry I could, watching my voice reach as high as it could, and… nothing.
That is… until they floated down from above. The white-cloaked figure, calmly soaring into view, and I couldn’t help but feel my heart skip a beat and race in relief. They came down soft beside me, and then walked to my side, the two of us warming each other and chirping. I swear, to this day, they somehow knew I was terrified, and were trying to soothe me.
So, once our ribbons of incantations were regrown and my heartbeat had settled, I gave a little chorus of chirps free to let them know I was calm again, and they nodded, then turned, and led the way, back through the chasm I had found myself, out through a small passage, and back to the tombstone-like rocks jutting out of the snow. Together, we made it all the way back through the snow and wind, through the horror of the beast flying above us, and up the stairs. We made it back to that bridge, the two of us soaring over it together, and then, together, we walked through the gates, and to the final step of the journey.
Never will I forget how they had saved me, how they had come to find me, to comfort and guide me back to the light. And never will I know their name or face. Never will I thank them…
And that’s the beauty of Journey. That’s it.
The beauty, the true beauty, is not in what one sees or how one traverses their journey… but the humanity behind the mask of anonymity. The beauty of a stranger.
That’s what my first journey taught me…
…How about yours?