Once a molehill came to fear it might not reach its full potential. Things had started out well enough, in its own estimation. Being small was a relative term when all around you, other molehills were just starting out as well. Which of them knew for certain it was destined to make something of itself, or not? Which didn’t have equal scope to shape the future? Didn’t all have an equal right, then, to think they’d cast long shadows in time and be looked up to as monuments to molehill promise? Granted, a mountain-like molehill wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Instead, in every direction, middling piles rose to about the same height and no higher. That didn’t mean one of them mightn’t achieve greatness some day, though, or that right now, in another field somewhere, a snow-capped peak hadn’t thrust itself overnight into the sky as inspiring proof no self-respecting molehill should settle for less. This mere possibility was enough to banish doubt, even on days when the clouds seemed as far above as ever. Their remoteness gave more sweep, in a way, for the future to expand into glittering proofs of success, didn’t it? On roseate summer mornings, the molehill would imagine the accomplishments in store for the afternoon, ever-ascending triumphs that would bring both well-earned satisfactions and abiding renown. And when afternoon turned into dusk without any of these triumphs having arrived or even hinting they were near, there was always tomorrow to look forward to, the sustaining promise starting all over again. Nor did the dawn of one morning after another when the molehill thought it might have detected an overnight inching up in some other part of the field cause its own self-assurance to fall away. If anything, that confidence grew to fill whatever new gap in stature might seem to have opened. One molehill’s rise could be the proof all others would have their day in turn, couldn’t it? As days stretched into months and months into years, however, and that long-envisioned pinnacle of achievement hadn’t materialized, the molehill began to wonder if it mightn’t be the victim of some cruel twist of fate, some unjust meting out of success that ignored the power of positive aspiration. Did other molehills really have more going for them, or did they owe their good fortune merely to being in the right place at the right time? Such thoughts didn’t provide more than temporary solace, the molehill found, and its disappointment increasingly left it with the sinking worry this failure to reach its full potential might be due to some lack within, an individual shortcoming that held it back from measuring up and making the most of itself. But what could that undermining weakness be? Where in all the forces it had trusted to lift it when opportunity called could so ruinous a frailty hide? Or might an assortment of small failings, too trivial in themselves to attract notice separately, have combined to deny it the bright destiny open to all? These questions repeated themselves over and over, until the molehill had to admit that any answers simply prompted new doubts and deepening confusion. Should it have done this differently, or that differently, or done nothing and trusted itself entirely to the vagaries of chance to place it among the high and mighty, rather than its own powers? Other molehills, alone with their thoughts, must be wrestling with similar self-doubt and shrinking within themselves at the fear their expectations would not inevitably be met. There must be millions of like molehills about, barely aware of each other before except as remote challenges to their own anticipated rise but now gradually understanding the harsh reality of their shared experience, one that accorded no spectacular triumphs, true, yet in its broad rebuff, might just call forth something more powerful and enduring than even the loftiest mountain range. For mountains would crumble into less than a molehill with time, but to find your image of yourself endlessly worn away and still survive that defeat, still carry on, must require one of the towering strengths of this world.
Copyright © 2009 by Geoffrey Grosshans