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You are sitting on a stone in the middle of a swiftly flowing river. Breathing in slowly and deeply through your nose, you catch the clear scent of water and the dark musky smells of wet earth and decaying vegetation. Around you, you hear the roaring river, and the activity and various calls of the nocturnal animals of this place. Above you the stars glitter in the heavens. Your perch rests near the precipice of a colossal waterfall and you can see down before you, the moon-lit land laid out beyond.

You are balanced within the elements; the air above you, the water around you, the earth beneath you, and the fire within you.

You form any thoughts or irritations into little toy sail boats. Letting them go as you send them on down the river, watching them fall off the edge of the waterfall. You spend a few moments here, breathing deeply and calmly, enjoying the world as life plays out around you.

As if struck by sudden inspiration, you stand. And as you do, you become a dog. Without a thought, you leap off your stone and plummet down the precipice of the waterfall! The wind whistles in your fur as you position yourself to land. Your paws hit the water and the surface gives way only enough to help you absorb the impact and you use the momentum to launch yourself down the river, running along the surface.

You see the river plunge down into a hole in the earth, and without fear, you eagerly follow it. The earth swallows you up and you fall in darkness. Suddenly you find yourself falling through the sky lit in yellow-orange as the sun sets on the horizon. Beneath your paws, you see a steep and rocky mountain coming up to meet you. But instead of paws, hooves are what touch the earth. And as an elk, you bound down the mountainside, swiftly and confidently. You run across a short stretch of grass before you enter the forest.

As the first tree whisks by you, you again change. Now a wolf, you gleefully run full-tilt through the forest, the stars and moon lighting your way. In the corner of your eye, you notice other wolves, also running the same direction. They filter their way through the trees, one by one, to run with you at the heart of the pack. As one, you all slow down your headlong flight as if on some unheard or unseen command. The trees thin out ahead of you and you approach a clearing in the forest. You are human again.

A bonfire lights the clearing, popping and snapping, its flames merrily dancing to join the stars in the sky. Looking around, you notice many animals around the edge of the clearing and in the surrounding trees, both predator and prey together in what seems to be a truce. You see one take note of you, an open space next to it. The animal acknowledges you as you sit down on the grass beside it. There’s a quiet but exciting anticipation in the air. Everyone is murmuring to their neighbors until all at once, silence descended on the clearing. Even the fire itself seemed to still in eagerness.

A man enters the firelight. The first thing you notice about him is the hide of a great grey wolf he wears as a headdress, the head of the wolf over his own, shadowing his eyes. You can hear his footsteps as he approaches the fire. He reaches into a pouch at his hip, and brings out a handful of herbs. He stops a few paces away from the fire and throws the herbs into it, the flames flaring up for a brief moment in a flash of colored smoke. The Wolf Shaman pauses there and looks around the clearing, making eye contact with you and the animals around the fire who have gathered here to listen. The scent of the herbs reaches you as the Wolf Shaman speaks.

“In the beginning,” he said, broadcasting his voice through the clearing without effort, “there was nothing but the sun, and barren earth. Sun roamed the skies, alone and without purpose. Until one day, he noticed a little sprout growing from the bear earth.

“’Little sprout,’ said the sun, ‘what are you doing?’

“’I grow.’ the sprout replied simply.

“’But don't you see?’ asked the sun. ‘It is futile. All things die here. What's the point?’

“’I grow’ the sprout repeated. ‘It is what I do.’

“The sun was doubtful, but he did what he does, and shone his light on the earth and the sprout. Because where sprouts grow, suns shine. The sun went about his business but when he got the chance, he did his best to shine his best light on the little plant as often as he could. Over time, the little sprout grew, up and up and up, until one day, to the sun's great surprise, what was once a sprout, was now a vine, who reached out and touched his face.

“’My purpose,’ the vine said, ‘is to grow. I made it my life to touch you. You gave me the light I needed, and here we are, together.’

“The sun was deeply touched, and together, they started a garden that spread throughout the earth.”

The Wolf Shaman stops speaking and looks you in the eye.

“Man cannot stand alone.” he says to you, “Everything he does is like the light of the sun. It touches everything, no matter the intentions. Worry not, so much as what a person does with your light, simply, shine. For all. For when that sprout grows to reach out and touch you, you'll know you made a difference. So, shine. The best that you can. And live.”

The Wolf Shaman holds your gaze as the animals around you, except the one beside you, disperse from the clearing and melt into the night. Then the Wolf Shaman approaches you.

“This story is now yours.” He says. “Share it as you see fit.” He regards you then, with his eyes full of wisdom and spirit, as if to impart the importance of your task. And without another word, he turns, bounds forward, and becomes the wolf, running back into the depths of the forest.

In quiet contemplation, you turn and start down a path leading out of the forest. The animal that has been keeping you company, stays with you on return journey until you reach the edge of the forest and turn for home.
I left some of the details specifically vague in hopes that your own imagination would fill them in in a meaningful, personal way. If you’d like, go back and take note of them. For example, take a look at the kind of landscape your river is in, the breed or mix of the dog, the kinds of animals you see around the fire and the specific animal who called you over. I find that these kinds of details can tell me a little more about myself