Today I walk for hours through a terrible burn. The sticks still rising from the ground are all charred. The ground is littered with broken branches, blackened bark, death.
Yesterday I read an article about a cyclist who, attempting some strange version of Leave No Trace principle, burned his toilet paper after defecating into a ravine. He lit the foothills that he was cycling through on fire.
I think of the two times the people I was camping with lit fires in the middle of this horrific drought in the middle of dry brush in the middle of a no fire zone. And I stood by.
It is so easy to think we are smarter than others, that we know how to do things safely, that we’ve done it so many times before and nothing bad has happened. I do it, you do it, it is a human condition.
And yet here I am, in the middle of miles of scorched earth, and it is clear that we all have to do a little better.
Eating dinner, covered with a huge amount of dirt that worked its way into every wrinkle of my feet, I was surrounded by sage. It was moving slightly in the warm wind. I looked at my hand, holding my pot of pasta, and saw it was trembling in the same rhythm as the sage.
I was hit by a sensation of oneness like I have never felt before. I saw the sage, the dead brush, the fine dust, the roots. We were all together in the moment, all made up of the same stuff. I looked at my surroundings and found that I was looking at myself.
Later on, walking into the sunset and beyond, a herd of cattle watched me walk by.
“Don’t worry,” I said to them, “I won’t eat you yet.”
I chuckled to myself, and was hit by that sensation of sameness again.
It seems that we are all connected tonight. I am in the beautiful open again, crickets singing me to sleep, sky throwing its arms wide to embrace me, distant mountains fading to black, showing me perspective. And I feel it all. I am part of. I am not alone. Everything in the whole of the universe vibrates the same way I do.