The sky cloudless, the air carrying the scent from exotic gardens, mermaids rummaging through Davy Jones locker, and on the horizon the Jolly Roger’s three sails billowing with the bravado of ancient assumptions. Imagination is a wonderful invention attributed to whoever wants to claim liability, as most often it disappoints, as it is far easier than complying with exorbitant demands of a Mad Hatter.
Campgrounds, nothing like the boulevard we pitched our tents on in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East. We leave our dreams of chaos and seek that place where birdsong has replaced the rockets whistle, geese talk to us in code, and there is always a sunset or sunrise shocking the horizon.
Millions escape every season in search of that perfect place, where the stress that has accumulated like cholesterol, will disappear in the reflection of a snow-capped mountain in the mirrored surface of a volcanic lake. We seek a place where our prayers are answered immediately, not with promises, but with the reality of a cold April rain.
The area looked promising. A twenty-mile dead end road to, Pair of Dice. The play on words giving me a glimmer of hope in a world dripping with despair. With each spine jolting reminder of the great outdoors we crept slowly, but assuredly towards the destination that promised a nirvana despite our natural skepticism, we have been fooled before.
After a grueling three hours of kidney fluctuations and the subsequent stops to relieve anxiety, we arrived at a sign that hung from the remains of logs stripped of their dignity, but attempting to reclaim a sense of purpose. The sign, like so many sporting the bullet holes of those who have mistaken the mural backed by a cloudless sky, for the quest they knew would never come to fruition; a head of a beast gracing their fireplace, the glass eyes watching for their chance at vengeance.
The gravel road, now a trail reduced to tire tracks separated by a mullet of grass, climbing what we could only hope to be the last challenge. Topping the hill we found our dream had become a reality. The distant lake, shimmering in the afternoon sun. The pines and firs hugging its extremities as though afraid they might escape into the darkness without so much as a goodbye.
The usual assortment of recreational vehicles, metal clad campers, converted buses, nowhere to be seen. God truly had smiled on us, for once. The ability to survive in todays world with only a few millimeters of nylon between you and the stars, has all but assumed the history and folklore of Davy Crockett and Poncho Villa.
Our immediate attention was drawn to the vacant campsites and once again our societal apprehension began to steal the majesty of the time and place, leaving us expecting not only the worst, but possibly the unexpected, an aerial assault, the beginning of WWIII.
We quickly rummaged through our emergency kits and found our solvent for all solutions, a combination of anti-cancerous skin protection and a top-secret ingredient that claimed it could kill any and all things that moved or even thought about moving. We smiled at each other as we slopped on the condom motivated product that would allow us to enjoy the environment without being held at its mercy.
We unpacked our chariot, erected our tent despite the impenetrable soil that refused to allow tent stakes to integrate its realm. Finding perfection is something we are not prepared for. We assume it is a manifestation of desires that we will not allow ourselves to experience because, what would be left? Fantasies are not meant to be realized. When they are, we begin to question the reason, and eventually our own mental stability.
The vision of the lake, the smell of pine, the light breeze bringing the whispers from the forest to our tent door, lulled us into a state of euphoria neither of us had experienced previously. We lay on the ground, the vision of the lake at our feet, the skies infinite expanse before our eyes, and the thought that perhaps there is a God.
It was during this period of sublime insight that we heard the unmistakable sound of gravel being displaced by the impudence of a vehicle, not recognizing the natural laws that limit natures ability to prevent arrogance. The front of the jacked-up truck crested the hill, and skidded to a stop amidst a flurry of dust and diesel smoke. The cow horns, like a mid-evil misinterpretation of Dante stood surveying the grounds.
I have never had much luck with prayer. It is not that I don’t believe it provides an optimistic alure, like roadkill to a vulture. It just has never worked for me.
When your illusion is displaced by a reality that reminds you of the time you looked in the mirror and saw someone you didn’t recognize, all you can do is create a world where God is on vacation and Mother Nature has been left in charge.
To survive we make excuses, we buy new shoes, we loose weight if there is no exercise involved, we thank creative capitalism for the pill that does everything from giving us our required daily amount of fruits and vegetables, to keeping our hearts pumping despite our excesses of denial concerning fast food. We are magicians when it comes to deception. No matter the blatant reality of being poked in the eye with a sharp stick, we continue to argue that our other eye works just fine.
My internal debate settled on us like a wet blanket, as the evening sky turned a tumultuous revolution of greens, purples, oranges, and my spirit left me to get a better view. While I was contemplating the possibility that God was an artist, the music tickled my ear drums, removing any and all presumption that man is more intelligent than the rock that keeps our tent from leaving, to seek a more beatitudinal environment dedicated to sign language.
The night remained a collision of cymbals and incantations. We attempted to bury our existence in the thirty below sleeping bags, that guaranteed a good nights sleep regardless of the Fahrenheit scale. They failed to mention a noise quotient, that no matter the visual aesthetics or spiritual intervention is not covered in the small print on the tag that tickles your ability to forgive.
When dreams, aspirations, prayers, God, turn into the concession stand at the no longer functioning outdoor theater, you begin to search the universe for a response appropriate to the time and situation you find yourself trapped in. Perfection, like a fickle lover, is capable of taking “the dark out of the night time, and painting the daytime black.”
Being one of eternal optimism, I regret to inform you that ear plugs nor pieces of toilet paper, will keep the trespassing sounds of interlopers from invading your subliminal perfection that is meant to keep you from becoming less human and more…?