For most of my life I have been like a child wandering barefoot through a wild garden on a warm summer's day. I've gone just where I want to, stopping to pick daisies and buttercups, blowing dandelion clocks and breathing in the fragrance of honeysuckle and roses. I've chased butterflies and listened to the buzzing of various insects. I've been perfectly happy, playing in my garden, alone. I've needed the company of no-one. I've been content.
About eighteen months ago I tiptoed outside my little garden and was delighted to find some playmates. We skipped along together and frolicked in each other's gardens, we became friends and found that although we liked to play with different things, it was good to spread our wings and run free within the security of our own little community. We built up trust with each other and one day we decided to try and step outside our safe little world. We knew we were good - well at least as good as some of the other people who had gone before us and had made their way in the wide, harsh world outside the village boundary. We said we'd stick together, and give support to each other on our individual journeys. We've collected some more friends on the way and have never lost sight of what is important to us.
It's hard outside the village. People you don't know tell you not to wander aimlessly, and stop dawdling and dragging your feet and to ignore the little things that take your fancy, but that others won't understand. If you want to make it in the big world outside you must stop playing with the frivolous things you like and concentrate, listen and take notice of the rules.
It is the way. The only way.
Since I stepped into the world of the big boys and girls I've come to realise how precious my little garden was (and still is). I want to be able to visit my own little piece of paradise and not have to worry about all these silly rules. I want to run as fast as I can through the long grass, feel the wind in my hair and not have to think about anything at all. I want to be able to sit cross-legged in the grass and pick petals off daisies, one by one if I so choose, and then close my eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on my face and hear the buzzing of the bees and the singing of the birds.
But I can't find my garden any more. I've searched and searched. I know it's still there - somewhere.
I'm stuck outside, in this vast world where people I don't know are talking about the things I created while I was alone in my garden, and didn't have to worry about what other people would think. I've listened to others and manicured, chopped and pruned. I've got rid of the greenfly and picked off any withered, imperfect blooms.
These people I don't know are judging my creation - right now. They are passing it between themselves, turning it over in their hands and prodding and prying at every aspect of my work of art.
Until they tell me whether they are going to keep it or give it back I know I won't be able to find my precious garden again. And right now I am wondering if I will ever be able to go back there.