It was an exciting day for Algora.  Her long wait on the shelf was finally over and it was time for the big birthday party.  This was the day of Algora’s birth, but the party was not for her.

As the shopkeeper filled her with helium, she felt her skin expand and stretch beyond what she previously thought was possible.  She felt like she was awakening from a deep sleep, even though she did not remember sleeping.  Just when she felt like she was going to explode the expansion stopped.  A string was tied around her to keep the helium in.  This was comforting because it provided control and it kept her close to the other balloons.  Algora was the last balloon from the box to be given life.  She was in awe as she studied the others in her group.  Other balloons, in a rainbow of colors, surrounded her and shared her eager anticipation of what was next.

The journey from the store seemed like an eternity, but finally they arrived at the party.  A covey of excited children began lunging at them, but Algora was the first to be claimed.  She became dizzy as her young captor raced around the room, but she was also exhilarated by the speed and sense of freedom. Some of her balloon friends; however, were not as fortunate.  One of the children had a sharp object and joyfully ran around the room piercing the other balloons and shattering the room with a horribly explosive sound.  It saddened Algora to see their lifeless forms lying on the floor after only a few short moments of life.  She did not understand why their lives had ended so soon.  The other balloons seemingly failed to notice the fate of their friends as they reveled in their playful and carefree existence.

It was not long until Algora and her friends were abandoned by the children who were playing games in the distance.  Some of the balloons were tied to objects in the room and others, like Algora, were left to float to the ceiling where they hung helplessly.

After several hours, Algora noticed some of her friends had given up as their lifeless bodies withered and sank toward the floor.  Algora was confused.

“What’s the point of lives that end so soon?” she said out loud to no one but herself.

She could not bear the suffering that surrounded her and she feared a similar fate would soon befall her.

As she floated, captured only by the ceiling, she began to take a closer look at this room which was her world.  Something told her there must be more to life than this.  No sooner did the thought appear when she spotted the opening. One of the children left a window open on the opposite side of the room and Algora could feel the breezes beckoning her.

The currents began tugging her toward the window.  At first she resisted in as her friends warned her to stay away from the opening.

“Balloons are not meant to be free.  You may not like life in here, but at least we are safe” they said.

Algora knew she wanted more than what she found in this small place, so she surrendered to the breeze whose forces drew her closer and closer to a new world.  Her friends continued their pleading.

“Algora don’t go!”

Her string was already being tossed about by the currents on the other side.  She was very frightened, but it was too late to turn back.  Her course was set as she surrendered to the wind that pulled her to freedom.

It was a magnificent day and Algora felt more alive than she had ever felt before.  She was moving faster now, even faster than when the youngster had raced her around the room.  She scanned the horizon and realized how small life in the room had been compared to what she could now see.  As she ascended higher and higher, her perspective continued to change.  Soon the house which had been her whole world, was just a small dot below her.  The yard which had seemed huge through the window, was only a small square beneath her.  The higher she rose, the smaller her previous world appeared.

Algora was so immersed in the glory of her ascension and freedom that, at first, she did not notice her discomfort.  It soon demanded her attention when she began to experience the pressure.  She could feel her whole being pulled and stretched.  She felt as though she was going to explode once again.  She tried to resist climbing any higher, but it was too late.  She was no longer in control and there was no turning back.

The explosion was louder than anything she had ever heard.  She was certain her life was over as she watched the familiar red skin float lifelessly toward earth.  She quickly realized that she was still very much alive.  A sense of freedom and peace surged through her being that was unlike any sensation she ever experienced.  The skin that had protected and contained her was gone.  The possibilities for her soul were no longer finite, but infinite.  She was transformed from being loose to being free.  Separate no more, she returned to all that is, all that was and all that will ever be.

And so it is.