Monday, June 13, 2016


From a starry, starry night to a sojourn over a mile below the earth’s surface, one inspiring, amazing, solitary day in New Mexico, gave me one of the most spiritual and memorable experiences of my entire life. And the thing is, I had no idea that day what to expect. I had no idea what I would discover or what my eyes would see. I had no idea what was about to transpire or how it would change my outlook on how I felt about this place we call earth and the universe that surrounds us.
You know, everyone looks up. Everyone, at one point or another, gazes up into the universe and wonders. As human beings, it is inherent behavior; before we began to spend so much of our time inside. Inside our offices, homes, buildings and schools, we looked up. A hut, or a cave or shelter of some kind, was used only to escape the elements or to sleep. But the rest of the time, we looked up.  Humans spent their time outside, under the umbrella of the sun and moon and stars. It was that feeling, a deep seated notion of the past, of the immense-ness of this universe, and the wonder of it all which overcame me that evening while star gazing deep in the desert of New Mexico. It wasn’t expected nor planned. It happened as organically as the sky itself.

As so often in my life as of late, sleep had eluded me. I climbed out of my bunk, wrapped myself in a fuzzy blanket, and sat blinking into the chilly morning air. Sitting, thinking, with my head tilted back in my chair, it was several minutes before I began to realize how full the night sky was and how dark the desert. The stars began to twinkle brightly, the planets held a constant glow, and I soon began to recognize that the constellations were alive. Shooting stars, one after the other,
tore across the sky. The Milky Way streaked across the distant universe, and the moon shone down upon me. I was mesmerized. I don’t think I had ever felt more insignificant or more inconsequential than that very moment. But then, everything became more in focus. My eyes were wide awake, taking in the night. I could hear the howling of coyotes. I could taste the sweetness of…life. Although I was surrounded by the cool morning air, the warmth I felt inside of me emanated from my meager existence. So, with the dawn quickening and the cosmos fading, I fell asleep right there in that chair, feeling more at peace and more alive than I had ever felt before.

And then, the sun rose and the day began in earnest. I looked up and squinted into the sun, blinking myself back into consciousness. I stretched and yawned and folded myself out of my chair, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, splashed some water on my face, and then drove the 30 miles over to the Carlsbad Caverns thinking it would be an average day, filled with average tourist, doing average touristy things. Being the first group to be let in, I paid my entrance fees and gathered with the rest of the early risers. As the ranger began to speak, giving us a running diatribe of the do’s and don'ts of the caverns, I quickly decide not stay with the maddening crowd, slipped away from the group, and headed down into the caverns which sank below the earth’s crust. I distanced myself from the rest who stood patiently listening to the lecture. I walked quickly down; further and further below the earth’s surface, the unnatural lights illuminating my steps. The sound of my breath, hollow and

lonely in the deepening cave. I finally came to a stop and realized I was truly all alone. No sunlight, nor moonlight, nor a single sign of humanity. I was alone, over a mile below the earth’s surface, I was alone. The sound of my footsteps, the dripping of water and the passing of time was all I could hear or taste or feel. Trees and suns and moons and grasslands did not live here. Just as I felt the immense-ness of the universe only hours ago, I felt the weight of the world surrounding me. And then, the stars became stalagmites and the planets became stalactites. The Milky Way morphed into the gloaming of a giant fossil reef, and a shooting star became…myself. I drifted; floating along deep inside the caverns of the earth. Into the realm of a feeling unparalleled. It was here the spectrum closed its gap. It was here that the universe and the earth and I became one entity. I was overwhelmed with the joy of my own meager existence. It was here that I finally understood that to exist…is enough.

The sound of laughter and footsteps echoed through the air. Another fleeting moment of clarity and then the trance was broken, I clung to that feeling, that moment. I allowed my newly found state of mind to linger as I made my way upward, past the throng of people that had finally caught up with me. I found my way back to the daylight. Back to the surface of the earth. I squinted into the light. My eyes adjusted. I looked up. Up into a brilliant, blue sky filled with white puffy clouds. Up into the universe, up into my own beautiful, imperfect existence. Up into my true self…

Note: with the exception of the final photo in this blog, the photos within are file photos.

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