These rocks have been huffing in violent respiration for more than two and a half billion years and each astonishing breath has served up an ageless banquette of gigantic bowls and massive plates with saw teeth cutting the landscape and serrated clouds consuming the jagged cuisine.
Rivers have joined the earth and the sky and the thirsty sea lies below ready to drink this clear wine as it spills from the time crafted granite vessels, coaxed by the sun to flee or be taken up.
They conform and dance according to original law.
The rivers scour and search and some find themselves, finally, a gem wedged in stone; timeless, persuaded into becoming hard like the stone that confines them, frozen, accepting, and resolute.
This is fact. It is not the rainbow’s end.
A complex melody rings down to the present like thundering drums in a story that presses forward in our path, for this colossal art shares only a season with us, and to the solitary traveler this music has a slow beat.
The score is not even.
It is said that you will know your own nature when you finally look into the face of this wild and see your place.
It is so, for the wild is boiling and changing under the watchful sky. It is a secret hidden in the ever-turning wheel of time.
You will see yourself in the smallest and largest, becoming: An oddity of desire and pursuit in ice, with scale and time.
You will find yourself wedged in this drama of survival and death with bloody horror and unspeakable beauty; a gem, resting finally after a long journey, looking up to see the sky and being in its reflection, a perfect moment.
You will see the gray face of rock in the gray face of a people, weathered and timeless.
Being here in this place, we are now pretenders, but being here is the connection and possibly the only way to learn a truth;
To learn it by looking over the edge; By looking down the face; By seeing deeply into ourselves.
You will be persuaded. You will see that nature is the relentless hunter; that time is tracking sure and we are the hunted.
By taking of this primal meal you will feed the ancient hunger. You will burn the ancient fire.
You will stir the ancient soul.
You will not need more than you have. You will not want more than you need, and you will not believe more than you know.
You will know the hunter in this moment as you are consumed by her breath, and your heart will stop in full view of no one.
You will not explain yourself. You will not deny yourself. You will finally be yourself. You are boiling and changing under the watchful sky.
I can hear this call. When I hear the wind, I hear this truth.
I can hear 100,000 birds migrating as they have for ten millennia; 100,000 tiny voices crying out from the edge of the world as they are mysteriously pulled toward their destiny, finding themselves completely in every instant immediately beyond the present; Flying so high I cannot see them but, I can hear them, and clearly, I can hear their ancestors speaking this truth.
Five dogs, five AM, five degrees below zero, sunrise . . . wolves . . . eternity.
And it would seem that, for this traveler, and at that moment looking into the face of the wild, he has seen the hunter and his heart is stopped. The drums are silent. He is frozen and resolute.
He can see himself perfectly in the very next moment, and in that reflection he is persuaded. He has heard the ancient call and cried out in harmony.
He is boiling and changing, He is perfectly still and does not ask why.
When his senses return he hears the present thunder of feet and in this timeless composition he discovers his own heartbeat. Six dogs.
The traveler is pulled mysteriously to his destiny, and it would seem, at least for this one, the score is even.
Robert McConnel 2018
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Robert McConnel is a software developer by trade, an aspiring singer, songwriter and poet. This piece was inspired after a dog-sledding expedition in northern Minnesota. He writes, “We were out for 5 days. My intention here is to examine the moment when our primal mind reconnects with the environment from which we came; that moment when you realize what it is to be at one with the wild environment; when you experience the stirring inside that comes only when you stop thinking and start being. An important moment in the piece is where there are 5 dogs and imminent danger, and the reference is then to 6 dogs. Achieving this state of mind is referenced in martial arts as “mind of no mind” where instinct reverts to the “primal brain.”