Day merging softly into the cool winter’s night. Soft blue shadows deepening to black with the early evening light. A perfect sunny day proceeding into a perfect nocturnal mirror, stars shining brighter by the minute as the last light fades behind me to the west.
Gently tired after a long day of work around my land, showered and clean, the vista from my verandah overwhelmed me. Forest, and the dipping and rising of the eastern horizon, while the escarpment of the caldera to the north loomed over the ancient rainforest now inky black in shadow. Not an artificial light to be seen, as it’s always been from here; as it will always be, hopefully. Not a mechanical noise to be heard; only the stillness of nature, now silent in one of those rare times when all the teeming life of that rich landscape seems to take a breath, as one.
I couldn’t help myself, from breaking the silence. Spontaneously a loud, pure cooooeeeee, broke loose from my being, the perfection of the moment expressing itself in sound. Out it flew, across the valleys before me, over the cauliflower form of the trees, the great forest.
And back it came. Four or five times my cooo-eee returned to me from across the valleys and hills, from here and from there, nearer and further away, softer with distance until it was no more than a whisper of coo-ee.
Oooh, sweet ecstasy. A life-changing ecstasy; I knew that I was actually part of the whole exquisite thing; life, nature. Not separate, not an observer mentally looking and understanding, judging or feeling it as an outsider, apart from everything else. No effort, no thoughts; just recognition, knowing, for the first time.
Tomorrow as I worked or walked in the forest, a great branch – a ‘widow-maker’ as they’re prosaicly called – may fall on me. Dead, instantly, and in the heat and fecundity of the rainforest, if nobody found me, it would not be so long before I’d be reduced to a skeleton, consumed by the forest itself, by bacteria and moulds and worms and enzymes. Composted, to feed the forest, to be a part of it, albeit in a transformed state.
I could also hire a huge bulldozer, a squadron of men armed with large chainsaws, and in a short time, the great forest would disappear, be consumed by Man’s desire and power to do what he wished, regardless of all else except himself. Me.
Or I could work and play, create and transform, with an awareness and intention to heal and nurture that land, to work and be a regenerative element in the whole remarkable play of plant and animal, bacteria and funghi and enzymes; all the seen and invisible elements that make the miracle happen.
Ah, an epiphany, the moment that sealed my path ahead, in the moment that an echo returned. We all seem to live mostly in shadow, unconscious for much of the time, automatically living out lives with little reflection. That cool evening on the verandah of my little hand-hewn house in the forest, changed everything, still haunts me beautifully, wisely reminding me back on my true way.