Joel was born in a valley. The Valley wasn’t so deep the residents couldn’t look over at the beautiful and grand landscape that surrounded them, but it was deep enough that they had to climb to get anywhere.
People in that valley town were fond of getting somewhere. The valley possessed beautiful and nourishing lakes and bore fruit to quite some delicacies. Alas, it lacked beaches, and was too hot for many, since it avoided the wind, and was hard to access for civilized services such as the provision of fuel.
Every year, many left the valley, and many newcomers arrived.
Yet, Joel had only ever met one person who had been to where he yearned to go. The old explorer had fanned the flames of his boy’s passion.
“Oh, the mountain’s immense, alright. If you can see its base, kid, you can’t see its top. And vice versa.”
The mountain was visible from Joel’s home. That was true whether that meant the valley he lived in, the house he resided in, the bedroom he slept in, or the dreams he existed in. It was on the far horizon, not bigger than a neighboring building from his point of view, and yet, it represented the highest point in the world. Reportedly.
The sun always set behind it. For long minutes, it would look as if it was being held up by the mountain.
When Joel was old enough to start working, he instead gathered all the gear he had been preparing throughout his younger days and walked off towards the mountain.
A year into his voyage, Joel was beset by a group of bandits, heavily injured and robbed of all his possessions. Forced to stop for a considerable period of time, Joel couldn’t help but notice how the mountain looked the same it had always looked. It was especially clear to him once Joel realized there was no discernible difference to the sunset, from what he was used to.
Joel got back onto the voyage, but it did not get back into him. Soon, the walk became something he was doing without wanting to. The enjoyment and the passion withered along with the weather.
Getting to the mountain was all Joel had ever known, all he had ever prepared for, and yet, was it even possible for him? Day after day, he would time how long the sun sat on top of the mountain, hoping to discern some measure of progress, only to suffer from the lack of it.
His spirit decayed along with his hopes of success. Time chipped away at his very soul.
And then the day finally came. The sun landed on top of the mountain, like any other day. Joel stopped, eyes glazed over a lack of any real drive, like the last day. And he counted.
Shadow hit his face minutes before it should have and ironically lit it up bright. Joel laughed then. He shook his head at himself, and without further ado, started walking again.
Joel would never time the sunset again.