California

In Absence Is The Thing

I love camping in the desert as summer gets closer. The days are so hot that you simply can’t do anything but sit in the shade, waiting for that magic moment before sunset when the air softens. That moment when the boundaries between self and the world are lost because you can’t really tell where the you-shaped hole in the air begins or ends.

There’s a loosening of muscles, a sigh of release, and a feeling of a day well-spent because you simply survived the heat (and remembered to drink water).

Boundaries are stark in the desert. The slice of cactus fuzzed ridge against a polished blue sky. The moment when the sun hasn’t risen and you are sleeping then it has and you are awake to bird song and animal skitter outside. The cessation of itchy day heat.

That instant cessation fascinates me. How can the absence of something be the best feeling in the world? Nothing really replaces it. It is exactly the nothing that feels so good. I remember something similar (but actually not really) in childbirth: the moment the labor pains stopped was the best feeling I’ve ever had.

I spend a lot of my life trying to find the words to express the feelings of a moment. “What is this like?” I ask myself. When the answer is “nothing, this is exactly like nothing” I want to push through, find words that still can describe the nothing. But sitting in the absence at a lost for the words to say what that moment exactly is may be my most lived in experiences. They matter because I couldn’t tell you anything about them really. They are uniquely mine.

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