On Eating Distance and Silence
Long plumes of snow are being blown from the summits of distant peaks, the white cutting across the blue sky like a razor. From the Southern end of the range you can see the west face of Longs Peak almost fifty miles distant. Further West you can see the headwaters of the mighty Colorado River that carved the Grand Canyon and used to run all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Everything is being worn down to the sea little by little.
What are you running from? Where do you go? What do you do? I am running from feelings, I go search for the stuff that underlies those feelings, the stuff I can touch, breath, smell, and taste… I eat distance and silence. As the alchemy of poisons fades from my body, my mind clears and I begin to recognize old parts of myself in this flesh of mine. I feel a rewarding burn in my legs from hiking the canyon’s trails and notice the outline of muscles returning all over my body. I always took great pride in my physical form, but now I am wary of it, having learned its flaws and limitations. Still I think, it’s a good body for the most part and the only one I’ve got. As the poisons fade and my hair begins to grow again, I start to feel things I haven’t felt in a long time. The last months of the Death Meditation were completely joyless and music, literature, conversation with friends, all seemed unbearable. Any emotion felt had to be stifled. I learned that hope is a double-edged sword, that to feel anything at all was suffering - The First Noble Truth. I spent so much energy coming to terms with my death and accepting it that I lost my will to live and had to abandon all feelings of joy because a deep sorrow followed closely on joy’s heels.
Six months lying on my own deathbed. Six months of yellow hospital rooms, artificial lighting, the beeping machines, the poison, pain, and loneliness. Now this strange business of returning to the world of the living. Music stirs something within me, I read good books with ardor, a girl shoots me a teasing grin and my heart skips a beat. I learn how to laugh again. All these people, places and things blowing softly on the cool embers inside me, coaxing life back little by little. I feel like one big fresh tender wound, and I’m tired, taking flight when I begin to feel too much. One day I went skiing through the woods deep in the Medicine Bows. It was Spring still and moss hung from tree limbs in the old growth and flowers were blooming on bare patches of grass on slopes exposed to the sun. I was amazed by the silence as my skis glided quietly over the snow, and the moss swung gently in the light breeze - there’s a soothing quality to silence and space. I was still very weak then, but I continued further and further until I realized that I was really alone, not another person around for miles.