The Three Gold Hairs
“Once, when it was deepest night, the sort of night wehn the land is black and the trees seem like gnarled hands against the dark blue sky, it was on exactly this kind of night that a lone old man staggered through the forest. Though boughs scratched his face, half-blinding his eyes, he held out a tiny lantern before him. Therein the candle burned lower and lower.
The old man was a sight to behold with his long yellow hair, cracked yellow teeth, and curved amber fingernails. His back was rounded like a bag of flour, and so ancient was he that his skin hung in furbelows from chin, arms, and hips.
The old one progressed through the forest by grasping a sapling and pulling his body forward, grasping another sapling, and pulling himself forward, and with this rowing motion and by the small breath left in him, he made his way through the forest.
Every bone in his feet pained like fire.The owls in the trees screeched right along with his joints as he propelled himself forward in the dark. Way off in the distance, there was a tiny flickering light, a cottage, a fire, a home, a place of rest, and he labored toward that little light. Just as he reached the door, he was so tired, so exhausted, the tiny light in his little lantern died, and the old man fell through the door and collapsed.
Inside was an old woman sitting before a beautiful roaring fire, and now she hurried to his side, gathered him into her arms, and carried him to the fire. She held him in her arms as a mother holds her child.
She sat and rocked him in her rocking chair. There they were, the poor frail old man, just a sack of bones, and the strong old woman rocking him back and forth saying, “There, there. There, there. There, there.”
And she rocked him all through the night, and by the time it was not yet morning but almost, he had grown much younger, he was now a beautiful young man with golden hair and long strong limbs. And still she rocked him. “There, there. There, there. There, there.”
An as morning approached even more closely, the young man had turned into a very small and very beautiful child with golden hair plaited like wheat.
Just at the moment of dawn, the old woman plucked three hairs very quickly from the child’s beautiful head and threw them to the tiles. They sounded like this: Tiiiiiing! Tiiiiiiing! Tiiiiiing!
And the little child in her arms crawled down from her lap and ran to the door. Looking back at the old woman for a moment, he gave her a dazzling smile, then turned and flew up into the sky to become the brilliant morning sun.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves, Chapter 10: Clear Water: Nourishing the Creative Life