My World

August 17, 2011

  The rocks were warm. Sunned for hours, they soaked up the heat and stored it within their glowing hearts. It radiated softly through their porous skin. “It feels so pleasant”, I thought, as I run up, jumping from rock to rock, from shelf to shelf, hardly touching the surface in my light slippers. “Like an elf”, I thought. It felt so pleasant to climb lightly and recklessly, higher and higher, up and onward and away from the road, away from the valley, away from the cabins and the coking fires. What looked like a wall broken into shelves, formed into steps by fallen boulders, climbing steadily upwards, turned out to be an entire world, a landscape of deep valleys and sharp peaks, of smooth-floored meadows overgrown by silvery grass, and forests of brush with their sharp, pointy branches and small shiny leaves. There were rocks as large as a head of a giant lying where they feel, with deep crevices left where they split on impact. It was quiet there, alien, the human world was only a story and I felt uneasy. I begun to walk slowly, climb cautiously, choosing the gentlest slopes and surest assents. No more running and jumping recklessly. I did not belong there. One false step, and the mountain would shake me off with hardly a flicker of it’s rocky fingers. I crept up the side of a rock and stopped suddenly. I could go no further. There was a way clear before me but this was high enough, this was as far as I could climb, it was not for me to climb any higher. I sat down. I felt uneasy, scared, I realized, I was scared. The rock I rested on was the size of a small truck and yet I felt that I perched on a little twig over a bottomless chasm. One sudden movement, one swing of a foot and I would fall, slide and crash onto the valley floor where I belong, where humans belong. I was afraid and, feeling my fear, I looked over the valley laying down below me, carpeted with fluffy tops of pine trees stretching smoothly from one mountain side to another, filling the world with deep, dusky green, covering the gray of the rocks. The valley lay peaceful, quiet, serene underneath the evening shadows, but there was a strip of molten gold and emerald along one mountain ridge, and the sky blazed with a setting sun. I could not move. What fear could have moved me, torn me away from this place, from this splendor of nature? I sat and felt my fear, and as I felt it I felt the rock I sat on, and the mountains it was a part of. I felt the tall, ancient pines, I felt the cedar trees of red-gold trunks, I felt the river rushing madly down it’s rocky bed. I felt myself and the Earth, I felt the nature and the universe and the fear was gone, because I was here now. I was here. I was the planet, I was the trees, I was the mountains, we were all here – we were Earth. We were nature. We were. “I understand”, I though, without understanding. “I get it”, I realized, without knowing in the least what I got. The fear returned slowly, creeping in, one soft footstep after another. It was time to go. I climbed down slowly, cautiously. The danger was not gone yet, I was here and not here now, I was here and yet an alien, a human. This was my place, and yet it was not. I had to be careful. I wandered through the forest for a long time that evening, following little paths, horse trails running over hills and meadows, wading in brooks whispering among tall grasses, jumping from rock to rock across rushing mountain streams. The sun set, the shadows deepened and I turned towards home, walking through soft, fuzzy dusk, and then the crisp, chilly darkness. Trees called to me, hills full of nooks and crannies filled with soft rock dust, with the fragrant silver grass, beckoned invitingly, tempting and alluring, and still I walked. I could not stay here, I knew. There were people waiting for me, worrying, there was a house and a fire in it, I had to go back. And yet… There was such safety in this night, such rightness. It was my place, I knew it was. It was home. I belonged there and it was right for me to find a place to sleep somewhere in the forest, to burrow among grasses and spread fallen leaves over my body for a blanket, to rest my head on a root of a pine tree and stay there, in the darkness that felt like home, until the sun rises, until it is time to run and jump and climb again. But I had to go back. I walked on, down a road that took me among humans once more, down a drive that took me to where my humans were. There was light streaming through the cabin’s windows, stopped short by the darkness. There was fire in the stove and there were people moving uneasily about it, with nervous movements and worried faces. I had to go in, I knew. I walked slowly, the last few steps though the dark, the cold, the crisp night, my night, my world … I had to go in … and I did not want to.

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