054_closetotheedgeEveryone decided to hike downriver that day.  I insisted on staying behind, claiming that I would stand guard over everyone’s gear.  They walked out of sight for a rendezvous with the confluence of two branches of the river.

As soon as they were gone, it was safe again for me to talk to the voices in my head.  Quiet enough once more to hear the immensity of nature careening into me from all sides.  Free from the distracting weight of human beings striving in their dark ignorance toward the dawn of understanding.

Out came the inner light and like a shadow I danced as it danced.  Canyon lands rising up about me in stony magnificence, unchangeably real and transient both at once.  Wide river water coursing past my ankles as cold toes taloned into the rocky, sandy gravel.

A huge grotto of boulders blocking the river draws me close and I talk to me myself and I, among the other people who live inside my brain.  We have these talks so we can decide what to do.  The muddy sand squelching under me, deep eddies passing under my tread, I douse myself in a waterfall of cascading fountain and am reminded of the living spirit that moves through us.

Everything comes off, slapped flat against a sunny boulder to dry.  The Walkman is left beside my shoes on a sandy beach.  No civilization star charts are needed where I’m going.  I step outside the circle and invite the universe to tell me stories.

See, I’ve got a big dude choice to make.  Love, knocking at the door and asking if anyone’s there.  I don’t know.  Never had anyone come to that door before.  The question isn’t whether or not I will answer (I already have), but how will I answer.  Trust in front or behind?

I start climbing the jagged cliff, up the side of the canyon.  The first twenty feet is fairly easy, and I stop to look back at my Walkman and shoes beneath me.  They seem so small, now.  Then I’m scrambling up and over, higher and higher until I reach a ledge just below the peak of the canyon rise.

I start walking along the ledge, rocks and gravel tumbling down the slope below me to disappear over a sheer drop to what I believe is an underscored rock face.  I reach the end of the rise and find myself on a round platform of stone looking over the confluence of the two river branches.

Giant rock formations surround me across the river chasms, higher even than the topside I am skirting now.  Titanic vistas of stone push into me with their awesome scope, beaming both the dread reality of an easy demise should I step two feet over and the soothing sensation of being opened up like a sealed geode to the wonder of being in love and knowing nothing.

All of us, ants before a grand and mighty universe unfolding beyond any reason or dreaming.  I understand this is as far as I go in human form, so I turn about and begin the long, difficult descent.  To come back to earth, even in a symbolic way, is harder.  Limbs grow tired, throats turn parched, and the mind loses clarity against the storm of outside struggle.

The last twenty feet are an agony of return.  In the grotto, I resume my trappings of civilization and walk the riverbed back to camp.  I sit down before a blackened ring of stones where a campfire will appear tonight.

I come to the conclusion it was too late to avoid this by several weeks.  I am only deciding how I will ride the lightning.  A door in me creaks open and a seething avalanche comes shooting out into my life, stunning me into a trance.

As coincidence would have it, the group returns shortly after I commit to diving face first into the love of no return.  Looking at the naked, muddy people approach me to tell their adventure, I see I’m not the only wild thing in the desert this day.

But that is a tale told another day, and then only to a few.