Last night it was just me and the stars. I had a daytime investigation in the small mountain town of fairplay, at a gorgeous old bed and breakfast that overlooked vast Colorado expanse of hills and mountains. The night before I drove into the place under a black sky filled with stars and clouds and a bit of smoke from a nearby wildfire.
It brought with it that strange moment of creation. The way you arrive at your hotel or destination or vacation in the middle of the night–the way you step off the plane in Hawaii and you smell the sea salt and the air falls heavy on your skin and you can hear the waves from your room but when you peer from the window there’s only a darkness untouched by city lights or civilization at all. Your reflection alone, looking back. An image of yourself.
It brought with it that strange feel of a presence there, but without form, not yet realized.
I could draw parallels to Quantum Mechanics and the tree that falls in the forest, the cat in the locked box, two slits in a metal barrier, the way human observation effects the very foundations of our reality.
But here there’s just wonder and terror. Wonder at what already exists, terror at being a part of it, not knowing it until the morning light. Whether the hills grow sooner or farther, whether the trees are sparse or dense. It’s up to you, make it up as you wish, as you hope, play on who you are and see, after falling asleep, how right or wrong you might be.
This carried with me when I pulled my car to the side of the road, backed it against a far thicket of trees that lined a clear stream (the sound of which I could hear). Only a small image of what was around me would appear at a time in my flashlight, a teaser, and was gone as soon as the light flickered away, and could have changed while I wasn’t looking. The mist in the beam I couldn’t call mist or fog or low hanging clouds or dust, perhaps smoke, but I couldn’t smell it. It was like the stuff of creation. Charcoal dust you blow from your paper in art class.
I’d be lying if I said that this wasn’t what got to me, laying in my backseat under a comforter and half my windows blocked as best I could. Anything could be out here with me. The lights of a small town were only half a mile away, but out here, were there someone out here, would be someone I didn’t want to meet. And if they were, I wonder then, how much a part of me were they,
just for being there, in the dark? Alongside and unwitnessed.