There was a time in my life as a young man, as a teenager, when I became fond for some reason of walking in the woods at nighttime without a light of any kind. I don't know why. I don't remember why. Cloaked in the darkness of teenage angst? Testing my bravery? Practicing just in case I were fated to be struck blind someday? Or did I imagine that at night one might see things better than in daylight? Or see things that could not be seen in daylight?
This was in the high cascade mountains where there was no light at night except that which came from the stars, or from the moon if it was out, or if someone had a campfire nearby or a kerosene lantern lit. I would take off through the trees and hit the road and leave these earthly lights behind and soon the road itself would become indistinct, more tactile beneath my feet than visible to the eye, and the edges swallowed up altogether. Wrapped in a sound cloud of a thousand crickets, I would march on between the blacker smears on the night which I knew to be the fir and pine trees rising on either side of the road, heading into the eternity ahead where the stars came down to touch the edge of creation.
I would reach the point where the forest fell away and the lake spread out to my left and I would know it not by the sight of the water, which was lost in darkness, but by the mirroring of the wide expanse of the sky and all the stars in the sky, a universe above and a universe below, conversing together in breathless silence, a secret language spoken only at night, only alone, and when the only other sounds are of the breeze and of the crickets and of the soles of ones shoes on the rocky soil of the road.
There I would sit down on a particular rock, a familiar rock, the same rock, flat but slightly concave, and sometimes I would lie down in the shallow bed of that rock and look up at the endless sky, the cold and milky stream of the stars, and listen to the sounds all around, of the breeze and the lake and the forest, and think about ... everything.