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Waves carved into the sky

February 9, 2014.Oliver.0 Likes.4 Comments

I like the tranquillity of the place. This wonderful silence that doesn’t sound like solitude at all. I am alone here, but feel in good company nonetheless. It wasn’t like that when I moved here a few weeks ago. An isolated cabin that served as a shepherd hideaway long ago. Now it’s the place where I seek refuge or better say a shelter for my soul. I was counting days when I arrived; a bit like shovelling sand into the imaginary hour glass. These days I simply open my hands and enjoy the feeling of grains trickling through my fingers…

I light a small fire and put the kettle on the stove. The sound of water furiously turns into steam along with the aroma of fresh ground coffee stir waves of joy inside me. I despise routine. However, I celebrate the morning coffee ceremony day after day anew.
Every morning I welcome the creaking sound of the door with a smile. It seemingly alerts the outside world of my presence, prompting it to slowly unfold its beauty before I get to appreciate it. I stand in the shadow of the porch and suck in an invigorating mix of fresh air and intense coffee. Every morning feels like a new awakening…

My cabin sits atop a small mound, which allows my glance to wander downhill, stumble every now and then, leap up again and keep roaming. The valley appears to be covered with a remarkable yellowish brown carpet, somewhat bleached by the sun. Only a few stains here and there, either from a lone and gnarled tree or some stones which seem to wait until someone rubs them from the the otherwise pristine landscape. Further afield there is a layer of earth whose tones of green, brown and grey form a rather indefinable fence, resembling a weight that prevents the carpet to lift when the wind sweeps over it. And just a few steps behind rises the indefinite ocean of blue. Only a single cloud floats on its surface today, lost like a timid ice floe with the sole purpose to indicate a certain flow. However, there is more motion in the air. In fact, the sky is moving. Only a few white cracks accentuating the mighty waves that will soon lash down on the horizon – waves made from rock, carving the echo of splashing water into the landscape…

I feel small, tiny, every morning anew. It helps me to realize how absurdly dwarfish my existence is and how marginal the space I occupy in this world. I don’t even play an instrument in this enormous orchestra of nature. I only witness, I am a spectator  – the porch being my temporary loge.
Drinking coffee in the great outdoors is like a symphony of the mood. I sense. I see the spectacle. I feel the character of the coffee and cling to the cup while I listen to the silence. Only sometimes I feel like being part of the play on the imaginary screen that aligns with the horizon. It happens when I sit at the modest wooden table I placed close to the window overlooking the valley. On some days I take a seat in front of an invisible pipe organ and play. A bit like a snake charmer mesmerizing its counterpart, I feel the waves move at the pace of my mind, following the rhythm of my fingers.

I remember the lines I wrote yesterday. The journal still sits open on the characteristic surface of the table, the rickety chair in the same position as I left it when I stood up. I hold the notebook in my hands and gaze at the words I had furiously scribbled onto the paper yesterday: “moments are the absence of time”…
I glance outside and the reflection of my smiling face emerges on the glass of the window, merging with the rocky waves in the distance.

I notice a few spots moving through the vast remoteness of the valley. Without having to figure out I instantly know what it is; or better say who. Even though we never approached each other before, me and the flock of sheep accompanied by a brindle dog and the shepherd with his distinctive hat and the impressive walking stick. I observed him so many times, his unhurried walk and the invisible ties between dog, flock and him. He tends to sit in the shade of the sparse arrangement of trees; the very same spot, day in and day out. Both of us are seeking the shade – as a shelter for our weary minds? Are we seeking the same solitude? I decide to find out…

The creaking sound sweeps through my head when I close the door behind me. I step outside the shadow and suddenly seem to shoulder the weight of the sun. A moment of hesitation… I breathe in while closing the eyes and walk towards the shade – the one under the trees down in the valley. My feet get entangled in the dry grass every now and then and slows down my pace. The weight on my shoulder increases in equal proportion to the questions inside my head. Once again I walk towards uncertainty. Not sure if the numerous distant encounters will create a certain level of familiarity or if the distance will be biggest once we stand face to face.

I can still see the rocky waves crash against the horizon and rise again and yet again. The trees slowly seem to grow the closer I get and the shape of the shepherd appears to be dozing. Yet another few steps closer to the isle of shadow I realize that he must be immersed in something what is resting on his laps. The dog circles the sheep with joyous excitement. None of the creatures seem to notice my soon arrival or they simple can’t be bothered to acknowledge my presence. Their lack of interest feels awkwardly liberating. Exhausted from the walk I come to rest at the tree and position myself in respectable distance next to the familiar stranger. His eyes greet me silently and with a minimum of motion, before he returns to the reading in front of him again. I imitate his posture, savouring cross-legged the pleasant whisper of the shade. My mind feels like the rustling leaves above our heads, every silent question a gentle breeze…

I notice that it is the first time I see my home from the valley. A change of perspective in various respects. Furtively I glance over to the inscrutable shape next to me. I figure out an old face below a worn out hat, wrinkles that resemble these tremendous waves at the horizon – an ocean of stories and thoughts whose depth can only be vaguely perceived.
The shadow wanders but refuses to release us from its soothing spell. The only motion I seem to notice is a hand turning over the page and eyes resting on them and slowly working their way down to the bottom. No idea what distance the shadow covers while sheltering our silence.

When the shepherd closes the book and takes off his hat I almost feel how his mind seems to rest after an exhausting journey, keen to gather momentum before setting off again. His gaze patiently marvels at the intensity of the sky. Does he notice the waves as well?
With a sigh he puts the book next to him to the ground between the two of us and abstractedly runs his hand over the cover. In a flowing motion he stands up and slides the hat back on his head. He grabs his walking stick and runs the wood over the tree bark, the apparently unmistakable command for the dog to prepare the slow return home.

The old man adjusts his cloak and steps out of the shadow at a leisurely pace. I look to the ground where the book seemingly melts into the mix of roots and dust. In a state somewhere  between shock and bewilderment I hesitantly take the book into my hands while my eyes try to rope the shepherd. After coming to a halt he furtively glances back, his wrinkled face exposing a trace of a smile and a nod as deliberate farewell.

I turn around the book and take a look at the cover, aiming to figure out the title: “Soledad compartida” – shared solitude. My gaze follows the familiar stranger and the four-legged companion by his side. Only when the motion becomes imperceptible and the spots align completely with the horizon I turn towards the paper treasure in my hands again. “Shared solitude”… Gradually I grasp how the two of us were able to share the shadow in silence, how every single thought turned into words would have moved the trees and exposed us to the sun.

I open the book and some handwriting shines through the title page. I turn the page and let the book slide onto my lap when the meaning of the handwritten message becomes clear: “Momentos son la ausencia del tiempo” – moments are the absence of time…

Torres del Paine horses by GlobetrotterGirls

Torres del Paine horses by GlobetrotterGirls

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Categories: Stories

Comments (4)

  • Simone @ The Constant Wanderings . June 17, 2014 . Reply

    I can relate to your experience despising routine, but also the comfort of waking up and the perfect moments of solitude while you prepare coffee in silence and drink it while new thoughts of the day form. Beautiful story.

    • (Author) Oliver . June 17, 2014 . Reply

      Hey Simone, thank you so much for visiting and leaving such a lovely comment! Seriously, I really like how the story resonated with you and the way you put it. Those are the moments indeed, wonderfully mundane and marvellous alike…
      I just read this piece of my “IMAGinE words” series again and noticed how much I actually miss this kind of writing. Right now I somewhat miss the flow to knock up such a thing, but I hope to rediscover it soon. The trick is to start writing I suppose…
      Thanks again for the somewhat unexpected food for thought and the reminder that we are actually constantly surrounded by quite a few “Now’s”… 🙂
      Wishing you some magic moments as you described them and keep in touch!

  • Martin . July 20, 2014 . Reply

    Beautiful story indeed. I loved the imagery of the waves hewn from rock crashing against the horizon, and the respect of the narrator for the solitude of the shepherd, and the peaceful, secret joy I imagine he felt in sharing that solitude, really spoke to me.

    Definitely write more like this 🙂


    • (Author) Oliver . July 21, 2014 . Reply

      Hey Martin, thank you so much for taking the time to read through this piece and share your thoughts! It’s great to see how the story resonated with you… 🙂
      To be honest, I really enjoy this kind of writing and would love to immerse myself much more into the “IMAGinE words” series. I struggled a bit lately to find the “flow” and really hope to get into it again soon. Encouragement likes yours certainly helps to pick up the pen again and get lost in my imagination…
      Thanks again and sending some good vibes your way for preparing your next exciting trip!

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