Only a few months prior to the time that I now write this, I sat in a small, dingy little log cabin just north of Flagstaff, Arizona; it was still Spring then. Outside, the evergreens stood resolutely like a swarm of strangers looking round for something they could not find, while inside the cabin the smell of cooking onions drifted to me; dinner would soon be ready, and night would fall. At this moment, I stood without a word uttered and ventured outside – I would be watching the sun set. I blazed my own trail through the trees and long, feely grass, the aroma of pine stinging my nostrils and cooling me from the inside out, and I knew, almost the moment that I set foot outside alone and unsupervised that this would be a special journey.
A creek wound its way through the woods a good fifty yards away. There existed a special kind of magic in the forest’s nature that I had never quite noticed, perhaps because I had never traveled like this – alone. The whole area around me quivered with unseen life; rabbits plopped along besided felled fir trees; a woodpecker knocked its head against a tree somewhere to my left; and as I approached the creek, I realized that the waters were singing to me some age old tune that only it knows how to create. I sat down on a large, round stone beside the bank. And then, the sun suddenly touched the tip of the mountain, brilliantly orange as only Arizonans know.
As the day gently lulled itself to sleep, I gazed around at the wide variety of trees before me, not at different species, but at varying ages. Some were sprouting, some tall and proud; others fallen, some burned. I will never forget, or fully understand, what I learned about myself and the world that night in the trees – about mortality, the magic of the unknown, solitude in silence. It was indescribable.
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