Afternoon "Outing"

While strolling along the outskirts of the park you watch a stray automobile pass by in the forest-like view. The narrow dirt road is only about a hundred feet to the west of you. You can easily hear the murmur of the engine. A pine cone falls on the car's hood and bounces off onto the dead leaves scattered everywhere. As if in response, the tail pipe emit's a puff of exhaust which floats up into the trees. A few more pine cones tremble on their branches and then collapse into the road. With a grumble the vehicle passes in front of you and continues down the path.

When you were very young you used to think there was a "little man" inside of each car that made everything work right. There must be a "little soul" inside the auto parts, you used to think. Otherwise, how could cars work so well? How foolish that was! You soon learned that cars were just parts. Parts and fluids and nothing else.

You turn your back on the road and look back into the park. Today you decide to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and just roam and daydream. Anything to escape that hectic feeling of days and events rushing by with nothing to unify them. Blurs, holes, empty spaces. Lately, you've felt beside yourself.

A wave of yellow leaves swirls in front of you. A flock of yellow butterflies. The wind is teasing you. It ruffles your hair and throws moss at you from the trees. Wind: nothing but air particles. But why does it seem so alive?

As you continue your stroll you suddenly notice a flash of light or something shiny and gleaming to your left in the dense trees. An unusual bluish flash that flared up like a star and then disappeared. A mild fear tingles you followed by an intense curiosity. Was there someone there? "Hello," you call out into the green scene.

No one answers. Only trees, leaves, and wind.

You nervously step into the woods. You reach the spot where about the flash was, but you still see nothing out of the ordinary. As you gaze around, you notice a chalky moon in the mid-afternoon sky. Almost as if the moon wanted to whisper a secret to the sun before he retired for the day.

A robin flies in front of you and roosts on a branch. It bobs its head to the west and then flies off in that direction. Following the bird with your eyes you spot a body of water far off through the trees. A mirage? You don't remember there being any ponds or brooks in this area of the park. Confused, you head for the water. Twigs crackle under your feet. You can't help looking over your shoulder as you go.

Finally you reach the water. It's a glimmering pond with tiny fish leaping out of the water. When they fall back down the ripples make the water look as though it wants to come alive. All water probably wishes to become a fountain, you think. A majestic fountain, of course. One of those glorious ones found in a king's garden with marble sculptures where foaming water is pumped up ten feet in the air. Then it all splashes down and the whole cycle is repeated again and again…and again. Infinite reincarnations. Too bad ponds have no volition.

Comfortable behind your eyes you look around again. Squirrels scurry up trees as you pass and peek at you from behind the trunks. You wonder what squirrels think when they see a human. Do they feel as awe stricken as an astronomer when he peers into the vacuity of space?

Across the pond you see something flash again. Without any hesitation you rush over to see what it is. To your surprise you find a small compact mirror lying on the ground there. Reflected sunlight was what had been causing the flashes. But from this far away? Surely, the flash seemed to have been much closer in distance.

Perhaps twenty to thirty yards away you take notice of a large owl staring at you from a tree, motionless and silent. For a moment you wonder if it is a real owl or a statue. The moon continues to gaze coldly down at the pond as if it is growing bored with your presence.

Out of a kind of curiosity you lazily walk over and pick up the mirror and peer into it from an angle so that you cannot see your own face. For a second the surface of the mirror appears to go black. Black emptiness, an event horizon. You fidget a little and suddenly feel a tingling sensation pulsate throughout your body. A strange but welcome vertigo grips you. You gaze into the mirror again. Such nothingness. You look carefully and shiver with respect. There's a bottomless black abyss in there. My, my, the entire universe could fit inside, you realize. But there is something comforting in that thought.

Feeling ecstatic you run and do a belly flop into the shallow pond. Even with your clothes on the water feels cool and refreshing. You dunk your head and enjoy more sparkling, buzzing vibrations of energy all over your body. After a few moments of this spontaneous joy of cleansing you arise from the water.

Abruptly, you become alarmed to see yourself peacefully sleeping on the ground back where you first found the mirror. With a zip you immediately "wake up" lying on your back across the pond with the mirror still in your hands. Something rustles nearby. A small grass snake is coiled up, apparently biting its own tail. You laugh as if inebriated.

Still smiling, you decide to keep the mirror and finally head back home. The robin that led you here once again flies past you with a chirp. It merrily flies just above the pond in a circle and then speeds off into the quiet dusk which is rapidly approaching.

Humming to yourself as you walk the world something suddenly falls on your head. You look down and see a pine cone landing on the ground. A vicious one; it has sharp pricks all over it.

For a second you are angry from the pain, but you soon grin and pick up the pine cone. With a chuckle you playfully throw it up into one of the trees. A few other pine cones are jarred loose and tumble to the ground. They bounce and roll about like little children playing in a heap of leaves.