Quotation from Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Without music I should wish to die.”

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay


{Photograph from www.bookhaven.stanford.udu}

“Zen By Default” ~ An Outtake

ASMR- Fear of Darkness ScriptWhen night falls, the face of a darkened breeze changes expression. To my concern, once everyone is finally asleep, I still feel uncomfortable. Sitting in the safety of the front porch, I fidget & listen. Sound is more distinct in darkness & as the eyes try to focus on something concrete, the ears fill with the movement of night. In this buzzing world, nothing is permitted to surprise. Poised for some unknown danger, I catalogue each sound, scan each shadow gauging any potential for genuine threat, ready to react. No noise is insignificant & from within this anxiety, I fantasize about defence.

Even during daylight hours, behind a performance of sassy confidence, I look over my shoulder when no one else is around. It didn’t at first but this place scares me now & I don’t want anyone to know this.  Donna & Stephen sense my edginess but dismiss it to intense enthusiasm brought on by watching too many movies. I amuse myself by imagining their reactions were they to comprehend the magnitude of this apprehension. If they suspected how I clung to their presence, losing myself in wave after wave of contact, conjured for self-preservation & validation, they would turn away. We have boundaries, unspoken yet strongly positioned & if detected, these needs of mine would shatter a silent accord.

Sometimes I watch from an unseen place, trying to detect the same fear in one of them, hoping that any similarity might offer the opportunity to reveal my true nature. I watch but recognize no signs. I re-join the group, my talkative blithering enough to deflect the desperate truth.

This darkness finds me locked in entanglements which prevent any return to a world of light & order. When the captain of the ship is lost & not even the winds of chance will stir—this is what chaos feels like. Fears too great to ignore & imagination is unkind in the face of all this empty space.

What do I do now that I’m too frightened to reach the place where darkness is dispelled?

& & &

This part is from the past: I still have courage to take the Stephenson’s dogs for long walks. It has become our custom, this daily hike & they wait patiently until I’m ready. Each morning, after finishing a mug of tea & the first cigarette, I rally Toby & Sally from their posts. Operating from the comforts of ritual, formation is the same—the friendly cockapoo is scout, racing ahead but never out of earshot & the purebred Sheltie stays back with me, barking & circling her great excitement.

We linger at the spot on the lane-way which serves as crossroads—to the left is a beaten path which leads up to old growth forest; straight down the road continues to a neighbour, then eventually the highway. At my indication, we veer towards the trees & excitement breaks them both to race ahead. We have embarked.

The first leg is through the waterway. At this time of year, the area is dry & there is no trace of a creek I’m told bubbles beneath the thick canopy of green leaves in springtime. When snow at higher elevations melts, a picturesque stream forms to meander down the hillside but all I see now is a dry bed.

The dogs dash ahead, noses to the ground, absorbed with investigating the comings & goings invisible to a human eye. Occasionally, they break-off from the path, following a scent too powerful to ignore. A gentle call brings them back & our pace quickens. We are eager to reach the opening ahead.

Past the safety of the waterway, we move into the field jokingly referred to as the “U.F.O Landing Spot.” It’s an area which was cleared decades ago, by a former owner & is distinct because of it’s absence of trees. Apparently, Stephen went through a phase where he was convinced such an occurrence might be likely & this open area was the perfect spot. I believe none of this but the name sticks.

7-themes.comThe first stop is at a patch of wild daisies mysteriously always in bloom. I stop to gather a small bouquet, the dogs circle round & around with intensity they never reveal back in the compound. Their impatience is clear so I hurry. Once flowers are gathered, we continue across the open field, moving around clusters of re-growing trees & stepping over rocks which have tumbled down the nearby mountainside.

We move fast, our pace encouraged by fresh air & morning sunshine. Crossing on a diagonal, we reach the spot where we must climb the steeper part of a mountain. By now the dogs, who had memorized this route & could lead unaided, allow me to loose myself in streams of spontaneous thought, maintaining only a faint awareness of where we are heading.

Movement is fuel for fantasy. In this freedom, the mind forgets limit. I organize indulgences & weigh the merits of former interest. In fantasy my character grows strong. I understand complex situations with an ease absent in the regular world. Inside the privacy of a mind scarred by loneliness & loss, there is nothing I can’t assimilate. These projections take on an intensity that shadows reality & my will is loosened as the grip on immediate reality relaxes. Like waves in an ocean, I splash through levels of awareness in the comfort water provides.

We reach a small meadow at the top of a steep incline. This is one of my favourite spots on the property. I’ve been told by Natasha that during the winter months, a large herd of elk gather on this part of land & this flatter area is a sleeping place. Framed by the edges of old growth forest, the openness allows for visibility of predators & the natural grasses provide a comfort no other area offers. I breathe & space fills with a peace that is savoured like prayer.

We cross this sanctuary & ravens arrive to investigate. High above, black birds, large birds hover slow circles. I call a greeting in a weak attempt at speaking their mysterious language. We are part of the tribe, I assure them through my strange croaking. Sometimes they answer back & these exchanges feel friendly. The ravens are the barometers of the land. It’s possible to tell when something has been killed in the vicinity, for the raven tribe, some forty in total will gather above the kill-place to celebrate. Their swooping grace is offset by shrieking calls; they are the eyes from above & I am comforted by this vigilance.

We reach the end of the field. This is where the mullein grow—tall, slender, odd-looking plants that rise up to flower nearly seven feet, as though training the eye to look up into the towering heights that mark the beginning of the old growth forest. Stepping inside this closer world is crossing a threshold into another atmosphere. There is quiet tension in the air which is unique to this part of the walk, as though the trees can sense our presence.

endangeredecosystems.orgFollowing a path beaten by visiting elk, far below the top branches that block direct sunlight, around thick-barked trunks of looming pines, we slow the pace. The dogs dash less, their investigating more purposeful. In filtered sunshine, I feel a lightness of spirit; I feel protected.

We reach the halfway point. It is customary to stop, the dogs taking a short rest while I busy myself with the continuation of a project started not long after arriving here. A tree which had fallen over, causing the roots to rip up through the earth, had one day frozen me. From a short distance away, it was the head of a dragon, breaking through the soil of the forest.

Natasha’s words came to inspire: This is the elemental dragon—my attempt at an intersection with an invisible world of wonders. This is an opportunity to blend sensibilities, to visualize the invisible beast I fear will stalk my life forever. I want to make it solid, I need to understand what it expects of me.

The dogs pant their exertion as I arrange nearby rocks, collected to indicate the dragon’s teeth & scales. This springs the illusion to life. Over the weeks, it has grown to an imposing figure, standing as sentinel—a menacing gargoyle designed to survey the natural order. This is a creature brought to life from my own mythology, one who will guide to new perspectives in an invisible world of natural order.


I work carefully though it is never long before my canine companions become impatient. Satisfied with whatever additions have been made, after placing an offering of the bouquet of daisies at the base of the sculpture & a quick prayer to seal the experience, we head back.

Continuing down a slope that extends through the columns of towering trees, sunlight is layered in fragments through overhead branches & moisture that clings to the moss sparkles against our movement. The path back is always random but a general direction clears as slowly we move towards what is for now, home. The dogs are slower on the return, often lingering behind, wanting to stretch the time away from guarding duties as long as possible. At my urging, they come forward but their pattern of delay is to repeat itself until we are in sight of the compound.

I feel a sense of resignation as we climb the final hill that brings us to the edges of the Stephenson yard. While the dogs race ahead to check on anything they might have missed in our absence, I pause to savour final moments of contentment. There is a sense of calm which accompanies these walks. I feel perfect, Everything is just as it should be in the world.

Then it changes. Within minutes of re-connecting with this environment, the magic is out of reach. Where does this shift come from? How can it stay perfect like this forever?

{Images by: ASMR – Fear of Darkness Script@youtube.com & 7-themes.com & endangered ecosystems.org & kristenplescow.tumblr.com}