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[P]
Alone

By Sgt York in Culture
Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

The reflected light from the higher hills to the west is what woke me, but it was still a gray twilight in my little shadow of the Ouachitas. Mornings here are awe-inspiring. But then, everything here is. Sometimes it's the wonder when you stumble across something beautiful and grand, like the light of the sun creeping down a mountain to your west. It's like watching the inverse of an approaching storm at sea, that lost little bit of the terminator struggling to link up with its brothers. Other times it's the fearful respect of the power of nature to casually toss you aside. Sometimes it's wonder and fear all at once. I'm not sure if I could say which are more memorable. Probably the latter. I have to try not to remember some of those. I have to remind myself of the former.

Maybe I do know which are more memorable. Maybe I'm just biased.


It was October. I was 17. I was Alone.

This is not the kind of alone you normally think of. I wasn't off in my room, I wasn't in the backyard, I didn't just slink off. This was my therapy, my escape. The grail I sought three or four times a year, depending on the weather. This was Alone. When you can look up at a forming contrail and think, "Those are most likely the closest people to me right now," then you are Alone. Another thing to inspire.

I had set up camp by a small stream, as much for the aesthetics as for the ready water supply. The slope of the hills and the nature of the rock had forced the stream to cut an arc through the soil and stone, leaving a soft, flat area amongst some bushes; just right for a bedroll. After dinner, I hoisted the bear bag and stretched out on a large rock by the stream, gazing, losing myself in the view above.

You never realize just how many stars there are until you are Alone. You can get lost in them, and I did. Another thing to inspire awe: How the hell did our ancestors pick out any constellations? They have to be the product of the earliest autistic; I have no idea how anyone could pick a pattern out of that sea of light. I don't see why anyone would want to. Better to just lose yourself in the sea of light, to accept its gift of humility without trying to exercise some meaningless power over it. The moonrise finally pulled me from my reverie, and I moved to my temporary bed.

The nights are cool, but not cold; there is no need for a thick bedroll or a tent, but the tarp fastened between the brush and a few stakes is a necessity. Dewfall can be heavy this time of year, and although 50F is not that cold, 50F, fresh out of bed, and wet can ruin your whole day. I fell asleep under my tarp under the stars, the gurgle of the creek and the rattling of the wind in the trees.

This is what I come here for: Peace. As a teenager, you feel so many things pressing in on you. Friends, school, the future, expectations, potential, desires, demands. The rollercoaster of the dawn of adulthood. Parents don't help much. They see the real problems of their world; rent, bills, promotions, health care, politics, crime. The troubles of a seventeen year old are a pittance, his very real complaints a mockery of the problems of the real world. But we forget. We all forget.

It's all a matter of context. And this was my context. The enormity of it all; This was my real world. Problems I can address. Situations that are my responsibility. Pushing through the uncontrollable, the thrill of the responsibility and the very real threat of the consequence of failure.

This makes the bills look like a mockery. I know it's artificial. It's not as though I'm a tribesman getting food for the village. I don't have to be here, it's not for the greater good. There is no imperative. At least, that's what my rational mind says. But there is another voice, a primitive voice that lives in the nuclei clustered around my brainstem. It says I do have to be here. It says this is home. It says that we all need to come here to recharge, that the world I live in every day is the artificial one, that this is reality. This is the world as it really is, in all its terrible beauty.

Now that I think about it, it wasn't the reflected light from the hills to the west that woke me. It never woke me this early, it was only a spear of light at the very summit of the next hill. It wasn't a sound he made, either. Even in the unlikely event he made a sound at all, it would have been the same as the other sounds of the forest. It would not have woken me by itself. I think it was those little clusters of gray matter huddled around the brainstem for security and warmth. However I came to be awake, it was sudden. I was no longer Alone. A voice went off in some part of my mind that predates the Homo in my species name -

Predator
My eyes snapped open, but instinct prevented any further movement.

Be still.

Adrenaline enforced the command, but left room for a little rebellion. I looked. In the gray, a slightly darker shadow was moving towards the stream. One paw raised, sniffing.

It's okay, he's upwind. Slowly now, prepare. Arm yourself.

I had a machete I used to chop kindling, and my fingers slowly moved towards it, my eyes locked on the coyote moving to drink from the stream. -Our stream!- The anger in the statement woke something else in my mind..

What's going on- hey, cool, a coyote!

Quiet! Be still! Predator! Arm yourself! Prepare!

Oh, shut up. What's he going to do, eat us? Just shout real loud and if the fright-induced heart attack doesn't kill him, he'll run faster than anything you've ever seen.

Silence! Predator! Danger! Prepare!

For better or worse, might makes right. The larger mass of gray won the battle, and my fingers instead moved to the bag with the camera

Nah...he'll hear and he'll run. Just enjoy it.

So I did.

Of course, this whole exchange ran at the speed of thought, it was over in less than a second, physically manifested only by my hand moving towards the machete, then my pack, and then stopping. And I watched him.

He was only there a moment. I imagined that he had already hunted and was on his way to bed down for the day, just stopping for a drink and honoring me with his presence before moving on. He walked to the stream and lapped; it was the only sound he made.

When he was done, he crossed the stream and merged into the bushes with a backwards glance. I would swear he looked right at me, and his eyes smiled. At that moment, I understood why the Old Natives called him a god.

Oh, it was just the sun glinting off his cornea. If he had seen you, he would have bolted.

Quiet. Some things are best left unmolested by examination.

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Alone | 53 comments (27 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
-1, bad for the environment (1.25 / 4) (#8)
by United Fools on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:22:32 PM EST

The environment does not want you there, alone or not. The environment does not want you to write about the places where you have been alone so other people can go up there alone as well and disrupt the peace.

The environment wants to be alone, only by herself.

We are united, we are fools, and we are America!

I said (3.00 / 4) (#9)
by Sgt York on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:30:28 PM EST

CREATIVE trolling. This kind of obvious shit just sullies the good and respected institution that is the Trolls of K5.

You should be ashamed of yourself. At least capitalize "environment" and throw in a few PETA talking points.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

twitch (2.66 / 3) (#11)
by Zombie Stanislaw Lem on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:34:07 PM EST

my forebrain and hindbrain dispute over whether to hit the Move to Vote immediately, or wait to let editing take its toll.

Forebrain: beautiful stuff. bravo! this is fun!

Hindbrain: quick! MoveToVote/FP before vorlon wakes up.

Forebrain: Hold on. MtV will ruin his chances of being able to fix anything.

Hindbrain: And reduce the threat of the Sock Puppet Army. MtV NOW!!

Forebrain: Move to Vote, and the coyote will bolt

Hindbrain: Seariously, there are no grammatical, spelling or other typographical faults.
No reason to hang in the edit queue, other than risk something bad happening. +1FP MTV

Forebrain: learn to spell serious, brain.
And if this inflammatory post won't rouse the playa hatas, nothing will.

Hindbrain: IHBT

Forebrain: HAND

That interchange took place in approx 300 ms.
Transcription took altogether about 400s.

forebrain won. have a nice +1 unless it hits -20 before I get there.

[note, any moderation or posts made on or after 01/04/2007 were probably made by the jerk/s who stole my account after I left.]

Lone Coyote (none / 1) (#12)
by dissonant on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:45:40 PM EST

IIRC, you want to frighten off a lone coyote. Otherwise they're likely to come back with the rest of the pack to steal your food or eat you.

The rest of the pack! (none / 1) (#22)
by debacle on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 05:47:14 PM EST

lolwhat?

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
Yeah pack. (none / 0) (#32)
by dissonant on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 12:52:27 PM EST

Sometimes coyotes are loners, sometimes they're part of a pack. There were quite a few when I was growing up in Kansas. Often you'll see one, and if it decides you have something it wants, and you don't seem to be a risk, it'll come back later with friends. Not as formal a pack as wolves, coyotes only tend to find other coyotes when they want something they can't get alone - large game, etc.

[ Parent ]
Eat the coyote and steal his power = (2.87 / 8) (#13)
by CodeWright on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 03:24:31 PM EST



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

DID U FIND UR POWER ANIMAL? (1.66 / 6) (#14)
by indubitable on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 03:40:27 PM EST


What kind of sick fuck doesn't want to roger some dude wearing a bear suit?

LOL OTHERKIN (2.00 / 3) (#17)
by Linux or Mac OS X on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 04:48:39 PM EST

N T


"Ugh, my stomach is full of tequila and semen." - LilDebbie


ysb
[ Parent ]
YAH (none / 1) (#31)
by Sgt York on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 12:31:04 PM EST

BUT IT WAS A MOSQUITO

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

hey i saw this! (2.50 / 2) (#24)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 05:51:35 PM EST

in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

this is the scene where Nightwolf teaches Liu Kang to get in touch with his animality, right?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Nah (3.00 / 3) (#27)
by Sgt York on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:12:50 PM EST

That was another trip, in an area known for its fungi.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Not sure which is better (none / 1) (#34)
by Enlarged to Show Texture on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 01:07:37 PM EST

Going out into the woods and absorbing only the sounds of nature, or going out into the woods to beat on drums and shit.

+1SP because I'm willing to take a chance on someone willing to learn how to write while staying true to themselves. I don't really think it needs to be longer. If this should fail, I think you should focus on ensuring that every word and sentence adds value to the point you're trying to make.


"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." -- Isaac Asimov
Very interesting (2.33 / 3) (#36)
by Aldous L Huxley on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 06:15:07 PM EST

This story reminds me of why I didn't kill myself in frustration quite some time ago. There is such beauty in the world that remains unmolested. While one part of my mind screams, we are destroying it all, it isn't worth it, the other part sticks around for the cherry blossoms of spring, cool rivers on hot summer days, and poetry while perched on an oak tree.

Find something pure and human, and explore it while remembering that there are some good things in the world.
Turn on, tune in, drop out.---Dr. Timothy Leary

Mytho-poetic Coyotes bring out MPD? (2.00 / 2) (#37)
by livus on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 06:55:35 PM EST

Interesting. Did you put the weird bit about thinking that star aided navigation was an exercise of "meaningless power" in there to contrast your ego with your id or something?

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

And you call yourself a troll (3.00 / 2) (#39)
by Sgt York on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 11:29:28 PM EST

We have fallen so far.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

I do no such thing sir (none / 0) (#42)
by livus on Thu Apr 27, 2006 at 12:02:22 AM EST

I am completely genuine and not at all trollish. I genuinely wondered, and this genuinely does seem kinda Iron John meets The Edge (movie not guitarist).

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Apologies (3.00 / 2) (#46)
by Sgt York on Thu Apr 27, 2006 at 12:14:01 PM EST

So many trolls, I was just getting in the spirit.

Actually, I wasn't thinking about the navigation aspect, but the mythological aspect; grouping stars to represent certain gods or mythical events. The first catagorization of the stars was most likely not for navigational purposes. Stone age tribes probably just named shapes in the sky as a way to try to explain things they had no comprehension of. My opinion is that it is simply better to see them for what they are; beautiful and untouchable.

It's the pursuit of wonder that has kept me going, and it's dangerous to lose it (IMO). Let rational thought control, but not vanquish fear. Like everything in life, it's a balance.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

"holes in God's pocket" (none / 1) (#49)
by livus on Thu Apr 27, 2006 at 08:31:46 PM EST

somehow I don't think that myth came before use. Most of the "shapes" in the west are based on aetiological stories, sure, but there's a good practical reason for being able to tell them apart. Many myths and aetiologies have practical applications.

Stars, wind, wave patterns were used to colonise the Pasifik ocean, for example, and seasonal star stories are linked to planting cycles here.

As a child, the first constellation I learnt how to find was the Southern Cross and the Pointers and there was a definate practical element in it (they let you find due south at night, which is useful if you get lost in the bush).

I think I agree with you about the wonder, though.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Better to write about the things you understand (none / 1) (#38)
by BottleRocket on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 11:06:27 PM EST

I'd prefer to read about bioengineering anyway.

$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
. ₩ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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$ . . . . .
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Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
$ . . . . .
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. ₩ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
$B R Σ III$

You prefer biotech? (none / 1) (#40)
by Sgt York on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 11:35:58 PM EST

Sick freak.

Fine. For my next set of stories, I shall post my thesis, one chapter at a time. There are five. The first is 43 pages long and is a survey of the current literature involving purine metabolism and signaling.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Can you just skip to the part (3.00 / 3) (#41)
by BottleRocket on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 11:51:26 PM EST

Where you show how to design hallucinogens?

$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
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Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
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. ₩ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
$B R Σ III$

[ Parent ]

Ah, that's easy. (3.00 / 3) (#43)
by Sgt York on Thu Apr 27, 2006 at 03:13:51 AM EST

Take a nitrogen. Hang three things on it: A quarternary carbon spaced from the nitrogen by exactly two other carbons, an aromatic ring, and small (<4-5C) alkyl group. Make sure one of the C-C bonds on the quarternary carbon links back to the aromatic ring.  You'll probably want to scatter a couple of hydroxyls around as well to it'll go into water more easily.

It's not hallucinogenic, but I promise you will feel no pain.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Fantastic (3.00 / 2) (#44)
by BottleRocket on Thu Apr 27, 2006 at 08:12:59 AM EST

I know I've got some quarternary carbon links lying around here somewhere.

$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
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Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
. ₩ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
$B R Σ III$

[ Parent ]

Hmm... been reading much Zelazny lately? (n/t) (none / 1) (#51)
by smithmc on Fri Apr 28, 2006 at 04:03:54 PM EST



Too many people (none / 0) (#52)
by Eivind on Sun May 07, 2006 at 11:24:50 AM EST

Too many people never tried this, or anything even remotely similar.

Ask your friends what is the furthest away from any other human being they've been. Lots of people where never ever even a single mile away from anyone.

Ask if they've ever stood somewhere with a good view where you nevertheless can see not even a single sign of human civilization. Most haven't.

Ask if they've ever been outdoors at nigth, at a place where there is not a single human-generated ligth to be seen. Surprisingly many didn't.

Lots of these people also assume there's nothing to see, nothing to experience, nothing to learn from such experiences.

Their loss, I guess.

-1, Hippies. (none / 0) (#53)
by grargrargrar on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 12:40:24 AM EST

This is the last warning I'll give you kids: STAY OFF MY LAWN.

Alone | 53 comments (27 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
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