So I am sometimes like a tree

Peering up at the sky at dusk from my campsite.  Angeles National Forest, California.

Peering up at the sky at dusk from my campsite.  Angeles National Forest, California.

If I turn right, right, and then right again from my (near) downtown LA home, I can drive straight for 49 miles and end up at Buckhorn Campground in the Angeles National Forest - a gem of a place that few Los Angelenos take advantage of.  It's a beautiful nook of a sprawling wilderness; dry, bright, and usually carved by an electric blue sky.  Like most California forests, it smells of pine - and a deep inhale nearly burns the nostrils the air is so dry.

It's nearly the end of the season before the roads and campgrounds are closed because of snowfall and potential rock slides.  I had it marked on my calendar as a *possible* camping trip with the pup - if all else on the to-do list was taken care of.

We stopped at REI to get a few supplies (and a new tent, RIP my 9-year-old Mountain Hardware tent Thurston busted when he pounced on a jackrabbit in Joshua Tree at 3 AM, scaring the devil out of me), and then headed mountainward towards sweater weather and smoke-smelling thermals.

After a sunset hike, pasta, and creme-brulee via boiling water, and staring at the fire idly for an hour, we retired and slept a deep, nearly-freezing, 11+ hours.  I awoke twice to pee and stared up at the moonless sky.

In the morning while I kept warm, drank my hipster-camping-pour-over-coffee, I read the below poem while Thurston gnawed contentedly on duck jerky.  It stood out to me because I have felt the sentiment of the first paragraph quite poignantly in my 30s.  It helps that I journal regularly, and frequently return to old entries.  But as I get older and I mull over my younger days and hours, I feel a clarity that I didn't feel at the time.  The accumulation of all these experiences and conversations - all of my anxieties and hopes - I can see them differently in retrospect and the color my perspective on the now.  It's hard to describe.  But I hope it's what old men and women call WISDOM.

I hope.

I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
The days of my life already lived,
and held like a legend and understood.

Then the knowing comes: I can open
to another life that’s wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a gravesite
and making real the dream
of the one its living roots embrace:

a dream once lost
among sorrows and songs.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, "The Book of a Monastic Life"
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