Warm Earth, Dark Night, Bright Stars
By Max Troiano
“Stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they're watching me.”
The place I go is so unique that it only exists for one night, once a year. It can never be found by anyone looking for it, and can never be forgotten by those who remember it. In this place, the only sounds are your steady heartbeat and the tops of the trees tentatively swaying, not wanting to disturb the calmness all around.
We sneak out of the cabin at night, careful not to wake the snoring masses all around. A crunched leaf or a snapped twig, a careless trip or stifled cough, could kill it in an instant. But it still lives, against all the odds. And finally, after what seems like an eternity, we arrive. The dusty earth of the field, still faintly warm with the heat of a summer day, welcomes us with a light puff. It settles down as we do, grateful to have a companion.
We sit on the ground for a few moments, breathing the calm air, the day’s mosquitos finally gone. It is late, but my mind is still wide awake, letting every sense soak up the world around me like a thirsty sponge. At this moment, I am the only person alive - maybe the only person alive ever. All there is is you, the earth, and the air. Nothing else.
I lean back and lie fully prone on the ground, eyes wide open and pointing to the merrily twinkling stars. They are omnipresent, omnipotent, and all-powerful. Silent and sure, keeping watch over every living thing. Perfection encapsulated, beauty ensconced in a patchwork quilt of pinpricks upon the firmament. Never have I felt so alive, and never have I felt so small.
There is no telling how long I lay there. It could have been seconds, it could have been hours, it could have been years. Not even the stars know for sure. But every time the world threatens to collapse out from under me, I return to that earth, that night, and those stars. And I know, no matter how far I roam or wherever life leads me, I can go back to this place. This is the place I go.