On Feeling Ancient
From the top of the hill, fifty square miles of sage flats. Watching the shadows of passing clouds rolling along the hillsides, over the mountains, the forests, and rivers. Fifty square miles of nothing except for an odd ranch or oil derrick, the sagebrush shining silver in the sunlight. To the west the Flattops are rising white against an impossible blue sky. Nothing on the air but a slight breeze and the rustle of aspen leaves, the gurgle of a distant creek.
What have I become, I wonder? Nearly everyday a flight from town into the mountains to read among the pine and aspen, to visit the river and to wade along the deep pools casting flies into the swirling darkness. I walk familiar old trails and visit special places where my history is written. I grew up in this canyon and it feels like home. In the past I always felt rushed, always felt like I had to keep moving. Today was always just a bump in the road before Tomorrow. Now I walk slowly as to observe this landscape with fresh eyes, not the arrogant eyes of youth. I feel both resigned and strangely whole, conflicted yet at peace… I feel ancient. It would be easy I think, to spend the rest of my days hiding here on the outskirts of the living, but time seems to have a way of healing our wounds, or at least numbing us to their pain. Our understanding of things evolves and grows. Life continues to be a work in progress.
Shortly before the Death Meditation, just as I was beginning to feel my body shudder, I waded across the river one September day to a big inviting rock in the middle of the current. I lay there naked on that warm smooth stone, as though I might gain some energy from it. I felt so tired, and after a while I fell asleep to the river’s soothing song, the sun’s warmth on my skin. I spent the next six months thinking about that moment and wishing I had never awoken from that sleep. I wished I had died there on that warm stone because I suspect death may be easy. Now I just want to melt into this landscape, claw my way deep into the raw earth, awake in the Spring with a newfound hunger and thirst.