Work had been a real bitch the past few years. Mindless spreadsheets and reports, endless talking to clients and selling god knows what. Some days I would talk and fake smile so much my jaw ached. My young marriage was on the rocks and I just did not have the strength to fight or rather I had allowed that excuse to poison my outlook. Poisoned outlook aside, I was caught in the mire of apathy and cynicism. Why was I toiling away, every day? The worst part was that I was not even getting fit or working fingers to the bone. I was sat all day staring at that screen. My brain was tired but the rest of me had simply been stationary. I would lie awake at night with my brain crying for sleep but the rest of me just could not relax. I was miserable, and it showed.
That is when I got the ax. I found it there stuck in the surface of my desk. It had been placed there with all kinds of platitudes, and reasons, corporatize b.s., about how I just did not match the skill set of the company anymore. I know the truth. It was plain and I did not resent it. I had been incredibly difficult to work with for months now and I deserved to get the ax.
I went to my desk and pulled the ax out of the desktop. Whoever had delivered the blow had really buried it. It felt good in my hand. I looked around, taking one last survey of this labyrinthian hell I had been living in, turned, and left. I began to walk with the ax in my hand. I sought food and employment at smaller, lesser jobs. At least that is how I thought of them before. They were not lesser or smaller. Cashier, stocker, forklift operator, garbage man, lawn care, all of these I tried my hand at. All the while I held onto the ax.
During my off-hours, during the lean times, I sharpened the ax. I used it to cut down shrubs and trees. I cut firewood and made an earthen hearth. Then I built up that hearth and made a primitive forge. With the ax I fed the forge and with the forge I built. I hammered hot metal, for from my mind had sprung a hammer.
The iron sang a ringing song to me that stung my ears. The ax was ferocious and fell many trees. I rejoiced in the fire and panted wantonly as the pile of fuel waned. The hammer never stopped it seemed to be attached to my arm. A new blunt, heavy hand. I lived like this for quite some time until the thing was forged.
Everyone knew of my forging. They all came to see the work. They all paid me to bask in its beauty and to hopefully buy one for themselves. I grew rich. Others came and I gave them hammers and they pounded the metal. They forged for me. It was not their fire.
Eventually, others brought wood and I bought it to feed the fires. No longer did I swing the ax. For a while, it panted and moned hungrily but eventually, it grew quiet. It grew silent and became inert. I would hold it in my hand sometimes wanting to feel it cut through wood, but again the forest was beyond me even though I owned it.
A din rose up from my men, from amongst those that pounded the metal and felt the heat of the fires. As I looked out over the vast wastes of ragged men and I listened to their mournful songs. They longed for the freedom to start fires that were their own.
I once again took up my ax. I held it in my hand. Wanting to feel that rush, that hunger, the pant. Its weight felt good in my hand it felt right. So I went down amongst them. Amongst those men who at first were wild-eyed with excitement for what I had built and now were like dying coals. I found an empty forge. I went out and chopped wood. I carried it back and lit that cold forge. I heated and hammered metal. I sharpened the edge and I held aloft another ax.
Then I walked through the rows of heat and men. The sound of hammering and discontented effort assailed my ears and I found one man who could take my place. To him, I gave my vision. I then looked and found another man who seemed strong and still as vibrant as the flames he stoked. To him, I gave money and my goodwill. I told him to go and grow the forges make more and profit. Then I found from amongst the men the most discontented. To him, I gave the ax.