Marbled slabs of sunshine pour into the face of the forest, as morning spread across the whole earth- I fill my glass of it. Beams soften into shade, are buried and put away in fleeting grasps, interrupted. The sun shrouds me in verdant pauses. Essence of soil, dirt, leaves waft upon the wings of wind- they are expressive, have detectable signatures. I lie in wakeful familiarity as I encounter the sightless couriers within each breeze. Beneath mountains there are wild seas, unseen. Out of blindness, they are experienced only as frequent charms, bucolic monuments. I rise lightly, having been awakened by wildness. I have no thought of time as I peer out my tent flap. Jonathan kissed me goodbye early this morning, perhaps around eight? He will return around four, but I will not count the time.
Clambering out onto the platform, I start the gas stove and begin to boil water for my instant coffee grounds to be poured into. By the downed, dead log adjacent to the tent’s platform I do my business, returning just in time to remove the boiling pot from the stove. In my blue striped mug I combine the steaming water with the packet of grinds, finally adding my hazelnut creamers. I sip coffee in my foldable canvas chair, feeling steam move across the plain of my cheeks as I take another careful taste. Reentering the tent, I unseal the bag of nuts and take a few handfuls into my mouth before attiring myself for a run. Over my shoulder, I carry a bag with my car keys, current book, clean t-shirt, and journal.
Parked on the street below our driveway, my car exists as a storage unit for my mundane belongings. I start my car briefly to get an idea of the time, it was eleven minutes past noon, and I was just emerging for the day. As I drifted by the canyon on my left, I knew I had reached the half-mile marker of my daily run, then waved at the old man with the cane, who always sits on the bridge in sunny afternoons, as I crossed over the river. I continued on past the Baptist church, and towards Erwin, the nearest town. I couldn’t seem to extinguish the foolish smile on my face, for I knew not of any worries during my runs. A tree line broke away, momentarily giving a glimpse of the mountainside, my favorite view along the daily route. I smiled and waved at every car that passed me, feeling a little bit lighter as I gave away each exchange.
At the small cottage with blue shudders, I turned around and repeated my route on the opposite side of the road. My final wave was for the old man again, as I crossed the bridge again. The next hill was extremely brutal, as it always seems to be, and I allowed myself a restful walk in reward. I past cold storage, the old collapsed cave, and felt a brush of cool air at my back. Picking my pace back up to a run, I climbed the hill after Ewok’s driveway until I caught my first glimpse of train tracks, an indication to begin following them. I scurried down the footpath that led to Cow Bell, a swimming hole I was happily surprised to find empty. After double and triple checking for possible company, I stripped off my shirt and shorts and waded into the slight current, succumbing to the depths as they rose above my shoulders. Dunking my sweaty body underwater I felt goose bumps breakout above skin.
Upon the island of washed up rock and wood upon sand, I warmed myself on sunny rocks. A group of rafts rounded the corner, and I quickly stumbled back behind the tall grass, back to the floating crowd. Releasing my breath when they were out of sight, I laughed aloud before swimming back across the river, with my head on a swivel for more unsuspecting rafts. My soggy tennis shoes squelched until I peeled the noisemakers off upon reaching the warm train tracks. Balancing my weight I walked along one side of the raised track, listening for the familiar sound of steady steel horns. Returning to the car, I changed into fresh underwear and clothes, applied deodorant, teased conditioning cream into my hair, and strapped on my sandals. I traveled back in the direction of cold storage, drifting down the beaten path towards Dead Dog, a smaller rapid along the lower part of the river. I turned right as the path diverged, wishing to avoid the redneck campsite to the left, as they had turned that portion of the beach into a local hotspot. Three small tents were pitched there, two fire pits dugout, a handmade stage and bar erected, as well as a stained, soggy-looking couch resting in the sand. I sat down on a log, far enough away from the redneck’s commotion, and began reading Prodigal Summer. This is my typical day in Unaka Springs, alone and blissful.
My summer caused me to rethink what truly is a civilized lifestyle. To me, constantly catering to commercial ideals and society’s constructed illusions of purpose, sounds barbaric. I am content being alone with my thoughts, exploring the natural world, working on bettering myself as I forget about time, consumerism, and constant busy lifestyles; I havesovereignty over my experiences. I was driving one afternoon, back to Tennessee, when I had the thought “I am becoming less of an ego, and more of a soul.” I repeated this phrase to myself until I reached a red light, and was able to write it down in my journal. Without looking at a mirror for days or distracting myself with technology, I gained a greater appreciation for my mind and loving heart. Without the distraction of the ego, I was another being that lay under the sun, feeling its ray like a rock would, or a leaf as it reflects glowingly its green hues. I was held within golden light, held within a blissful steadiness, which bound me to each present moment; just as if there was to be nothing more, yet could be no less.
What constitutes this golden light? It is fleeting and constantly ebbing and flowing. Can a human whom rejoices in golden light, whom holds it in a warm orb within the heart, become encapsulated, and embodied by it? Perhaps we all already do carry such light within us, to pass along in a brightened fury: life. Or perhaps when we die, we will truly hold golden light, like the kind of light that holds unseen particles up for you to glance upon, quickly, before being dropped once again. The light that we all must notice on occasion, the light that radiates in afternoon angles- through one’s window blinds to paint a room with sporadic light, for example. In birth, we join the rest of the world in a soft light, a light which gives all things grace. Throughout my life I strive to find golden light, to glow and float on the experience of entire happiness, as much as I can. When it is my time to go, I hope to dissolve into a golden light, return to a form of entirety.