A steady climb, even a superstitious logic brought me to a place where I stopped. How many hours had I been walking? Was this the right place? I had been talking to myself throughout my journey, mindless of my steps. What about the more basic question - Should I turn around? Was I lost?
Stay, I heard myself say. Not as in a fairy tale where each event speaks in rhymes to travelers like me. Nothing magical. Just a stubborn insistence to hold still. I stood there in a clearing, alone, and let the my mind shed its noise.
Then, a second man came to the clearing by another path. He stopped at the outer ring of trees, but came no closer. In the darkness could he see me? I could smell him see his soft shape in the twilight- furtive, cupping his cigarette with his hand. He waited, and turned back. Quiet returned. I thought I was onto something.
I walked on a bit farther because I didn't know how to go back. No clever twist, hidden message, or big lesson. My random encounter with a smoker proved inconsequential. By most definitions I did not die and in fact did not need rescue. Instead, I found my way back by accident after hours of panic stricken running combined with horse trading in search of some divine intervention. There was none at all.
Since then, I have stayed closer to home.
December 20, 2010