A View from the Top
And I Dreamed I Was flying
Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken And many times confused Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken And certainly misused Oh, but I’m all right, I’m all right I’m just weary to my bones Still, you don’t expect to be Bright and bon vivant So far away from home, so far away from home*
The wind-whipped clouds in the valleys reminded me of cotton, or maybe of white cotton candy. But the mountains loomed overhead and formed a dark and not altogether friendly contrast to the clouds racing through the lowlands. I hadn’t run here in a long time, it is more than half a thousand miles from home, and I had never run here in the winter. The last time I had run in the Blue Ridge it was summer, the forest decked out in its finest greenery, and the mountain birds shrieking their welcomes in the shadows. Now, it was dark, dreary and shadowless. I am trying to dodge the raindrops which are big and cold and appearing with ever increasing frequency. It is quiet, it is lonely, and it is cold.
I have been climbing this jeep trail for more than an hour now and not without a protest or two from my weary legs. I remember running right here about two years ago and racing face to face into a black bear who had another runner on the trail backed up into an embankment, where they had a standoff, at least for that moment . Much more than a little nerve wracking that we got so close, that neither of us would give an inch, that each of us were staring into the others’ eyes, his eyes without expression, he was seemingly without any fear or apprehension whatsoever. I thought in that micro second that I might die right then and there, but he gave ground at the last moment for reasons still unclear to me, and gracefully loped away. The captive runner cried for a moment and then she thanked me for being there (like I planned it or something), and we passed one another on the trail, and went back to our private lives.
I am thinking these things while ascending the mountain trail and I pat the pocket of my rain jacket simply to reassure myself, but there is nothing in the pocket, the pepper spray and mace is still sitting on top of the car where I left it about an hour ago, in the pre-dawn darkness. I can feel my stomach start to drop through the ground.
There is not much to do but to soldier on, uphill, and to see what fate awaits me. Why does this fear and apprehension want to rule the day? What am I doing here? Is it worth the trouble?
I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered I don’t have a friend who feels at ease I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered Or driven to its knees Oh, but it’s all right, it’s all right For lived so well so long Still, when I think of the road We’re traveling on I wonder what went wrong I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong*
The rain drops are more now, and hitting me hard on the head. As if trying to get my attention. The steady staccato beat begins to lull me into a new place, and one free of this fear and apprehension. One of appreciation, one of liberation. The forest takes on a new attitude. I never noticed the bare tree trunks, each looks like a unique and beautiful free standing statue, created by the greatest sculptor ever to live. There are a few snowflakes interspersed within the big rain drops. They float effortlessly in the breeze like feathers, moving hither and yon, seemingly without conscious effort on their part. Some land gently on my face. Is that coincidental? Now, as I approach the top of the mountain, I am running in the clouds, being swept along with them by the wind at my back. I am a cloud.
Topping the mountain, I remembered the flying dream. The run has become effortless. My irrational fears have evaporated into the forest. I will most gratefully follow this trail, wherever it leads me, until I finally find my way home.
And I dreamed I was dying And I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly And looking back down at me Smiled reassuringly And I dreamed I was flying*
*Paul Simon, American Tune