Lost in Thought

December 15, 2012
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Allie Duncan
Climbing, climbing, climbing. The road streams down behind. Above, the mountaintop kisses the hanging sun. The lull of the steadfast vehicle calms me as we are jerked side to side nervously following the winding mountain path.
I am comfortable. Not only in the sanctuary I’ve built in the backseat of the car, or in the clothes on my back. I’m comfortable in the company-my dad and his sister—once childhood rivals, but now joking and laughing in the front seat. I’m comfortable in my lifestyle and the sacrifices my parents have made to educate me as a student of the world. I’m comfortable in my setting; Spain feels like a second home to me. I am comfortable in my beliefs and views, having just spent three weeks discovering and defending them. “One person can change the world,” I’d argued. “So long as the world is open to that change.”
The car lurches to a stop and I look up to see only a vast blue sky and a spectrum of green. As I step out of the car, my senses are assaulted. I hadn’t realized how stale the air I was breathing had been until I feel the mountain breeze on my skin. My eyes adjust to the sunlight to see more green land than they’ve ever seen before—arching up to the sky and blanketing the surroundings. Far below, towns are scattered throughout the valleys, like towns in a pristine Christmas train scene. I hear the wind whipping my hair into a mane, but I don’t care. I am more fascinated by the stomping of hooves, the buzzing of flies, and the smell of manure.
I approach the cow closest to me—large and sturdy and happily munching on grass. Her horns are pointed upward and the bell on her neck jingles merrily as she chews.
“I’m going to pet it,” I announce bravely to my father. Gamely laughing, he prepares the camera. After several shots of me inching towards the cow, I place my palm on its stomach. As I turn and smile triumphantly at my audience, I feel a groan, then a sharp object jabbing my ribs and pushing.
I fly back. The cow snorts at me as if to say ‘that’s what you get for disrupting my dinner.’ She turns back to the grass, and my ribs sting where her horns had poked me.
Not trying to let the cows’ rejection faze me, I scowl at my laughing father and march over to the side of the mountain. I know that if I look down, I'll get scared. The cliff seems impossibly steep and the barbed wire is less than inviting. Instead, I look up.
I lose my breath as I gaze first up at the towering mountains surrounding me. How could anything possibly be so green? It seems odd, but I think that it would be comfortable to be up at the top. The weather's nice enough. And so, I garner up enough nerve to look down at the people living below.
The picturesque towns dotting the valleys look serene. I'm so high up, all I can see are houses the size of my fingernail. I wonder who found this beautiful little nook of the world first, and could possibly muster up the courage to clamber around the mountains to build a town. Weren't they intimidated by the height of the mountains, the possibility of disaster? Weren't they afraid of being isolated--alone with nothing but dramatic views and angry cows. How can anyone build anything in the awesome power of nature? It seems impossible. Everything seems impossible. How did people transition from riding around on the horses I had seen previously, to the car that had driven me up? Why would people even dare defy nature? Suddenly, all my views are thrown into question, and I don’t know when they’ll sort themselves out.

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