One Thousand Books

It was another birthday of mine yesterday

It got me to thinking about this time last year of course, I was in New Zealand, underneath big blue Mount Cook. Camped out at the base I soaked up the clean silence in between my pals laughs and play fights. When they took a few moments for a smoke we sat on the car roof quiet and mesmerised by this view of all history rolling away, us attached to it. Thats when I heard it, the sound of one thousand books closing at their centre spines in sequence. I looked to the source, my senses fused and my brain understood the small avalanche beside us. At 12 midnight, beside the mountain, now a sitting a little more comfortably, they sang for me we and had a little celebratory cuddle under billions of stars, beside that holy mountain. I said to my astrologer friend who held me close, ‘Man this is a perfect view of the universe, front row seats. Well almost except for those two tiny clouds one there and there.’ He replied laughing ‘They are not clouds, they’re galaxies!’ I had nothing to say to that, there is no way to describe seeing two galaxies at the same time, that are older than time, whilst standing in one you don’t have an understanding of.

As I brushed my teeth a few yards away alone, an golden firecracker of a shooting star flew over me in what seemed to take a whole minute it was so big and so bright orange. I heard it in my mind like a rocket. I saw it pop at the end and explode, followed so slowly by its trail of glittering dust until gone. For eternity after who knows how long a journey or from where. I thought about my own trail and I died with it too. I picked up my toothbrush from the floor and tried to explain it to the guys amazed they didn’t catch it too. I considered it a birthday gift. I honestly couldn’t sleep in our car after, the stars burned so bright and so many over the deep purple sky, the colour of our universe. If I slept i’d be a fool to miss the show, always there, eternal, yet rarely ever seen or appreciated anymore for its cosmic wonder by us modern folks. A thing so human, for we are star parts, now almost forgotten to us. Our omnipresent night sky, our very nature there to see and read flowing so far out there we can never understand it – all given up for the artificial light of screens close to our noses.

We climbed that mountain later that day and went to on to an observatory at another windy peak, I got blown away by the force of the gale and also by seeing two more stars blazing in broad daylight through the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere. It smelled of soldered plastic, iron in motion and heated rubber, that hot science scent. My arms hanging by my sides and my mouth wide open, I couldn’t understand how we could see them through the rays of our sun or believe they were there all this time in the daylight and I never knew. As the big day faded in to another for someone else we were stargazing once again, my four drunken friends, a bus load of Chinese tourists and the deep black, together in eeier stillness that comes when you witness something sacred, all breathing in Lake Tekapo’s morning due.

Its been four years since I left home and started to live this way

…and every birthday has been unexpected or just straight nuts.

The year before Mount Cook I was in Nepal. I climbed a mountain that day too and spend the day walking around with a Monk. He was an odd fellow, I got to drink my first rum in months and there was a view over Kathmandu from way up there – a local guy came to us and said ‘Kathmandu. It looks like a giant garbage heap’ – It was lovely.

I just had another birthday, this time it was France in an ancient chateau. And yes I did climb up high again that day too, that’s what seems to happen now.

So this is a small bit just to say thank you to whoever and whatever is making this happen.

To another year and another mountain.

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