The Hilltop

Sometimes,

When life becomes too mundane,

I walk out of my house,

Up the driveway,

Duck beneath the rusted orange barbed wire,

And sneak onto the Reservoir.

The trail is cracked dirt,

Crumbling earth the color of dirty sun-bleached bone,

A beautiful color for all the death imagery.

Something straight from the days of the California Trail and Manifest Destiny,

From days when there were undiscovered lands,

Or at least lands our ignorance let us believe were undiscovered,

Promising that if you just struggle hard enough

And long enough

You'll get someplace worthwhile.

And finally I do reach the top of the hill,

Lungs struggling, legs burning,

And there's the lonely park bench waiting for me.

Up here I can see everything.

The windswept hills swarming with tall grass,

Some of it already bleached wheat-gold from the California sun,

Twitching in the warm evening wind,

Bathed in the fading sunlight.

The lake, some days blue, blue as the bluest summer sky,

And other days cool, dark, glassy--

A vague, disinterested mirror reflecting the world back at itself.

The mountains, purple and yellow,

Grand and majestic,

But faint in the misty distance.

The sunset, all fiery oranges and pale blues and gentle pinks,

So bright and breathtaking you can't stand to look at it

Or to look away.

The swooping birds circling low over the grass,

Only to soar up and wheel through the air,

Whistling and warbling and shrieking out their presence,

Delighting in their existence.

It's a scene with all the ancient mystery of a Scottish moor,

All the rugged pride of the Sierras,

All the longing and wonder of the Wanderer above the Sea of Fog.

And then, not too far away, nestled between the hills,

Runs the highway, thin and dark

And lost in the falling shadows.

All you can see are the red and gold lights of cars

Trundling along like glowing ants.

Where are they going?

Do they even know?

It's a cliche thought,

But up here all cliche thoughts are reborn

New and interesting.

And even as I stand there,

The ache of the thought,

The pain of the fact that so many of us spend our lives

Scuttling around like frightened cockroaches,

Following the nearest leader in the hope they can lead us

To happiness,

Fades.

Because I'm here.

I have the hills and the lake and the mountains and the sky and the birds.

I have this, and I have it now.

For this one moment,

I'm looking down at the mundane, panicked rat-race of life,

Removed from it,

Saved from it,

And just like the view from the hilltop,

That's an achingly beautiful thing.

I throw back my arms and let the wind tangle in my hair,

Not bothering to choke down the laugh rising out of me,

Because,

In this moment,

I'm here.






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