stealth

The kingdom is full of ninjas.  Full.  Of.  Ninjas.

One minute you are alone in the room and then you look over your shoulder and there is someone standing there watching you.  You jump.  Your heart stops for a second.  Time stands still and your life flashes before your eyes for this is the moment of your doom…

What happens next depends on which ninja it is.

If it is one of the cat ninjas, they usually lick a paw and then walk away as quietly as they arrived, content in the knowledge that they could have destroyed you if they didn’t have more pressing matters, like a nap.

If it is a baby ninja, however, all bets are off.  Chaos and adventure will likely ensue.  What else would you expect from a baby ninja?

So quiet.  So stealth.  Appearing as if from thin air.  Yet still capable of absolute devastation…

It is truly remarkable I have lasted this long.

How much longer will my luck hold?

I may need reinforcements…  Any volunteers out there?

rocket

dig

 

The rockets rainbow glow spread across the heavens in its wake.  We were once again throwing our science and machinery into space, a feat as dazzling in math as beauty.  We are here.  We are doomed.  Our salvation is waiting for us beyond our shielding atmosphere, away from this tiny blue dot.

This rocket wasn’t even going that far.  It’s payload was orbit.  And yet it was still an essential stepping stone as the launch provided an opportunity to test capabilities that will make it easier for us to one day send our identity reaching far and wide.  The farther we can go the longer we will survive.

We have long operated from the principle of necessity breeds invention.  We run up against a need and then we figure out a solution and then we figure out how a more efficient solution and then, when possible, we automate that which frees us up to tackle new problems.  That was our history and is our future too.  We know we need to venture into that final frontier and so we will figure out how to make that a reality.  And on and on, and what a wonderful reality, beautiful and exciting, it will be.

perspective

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It was kind of funny…

I’d walked the same stretch of trail only 6 days before but it was completely unrecognizable. And not for the first time I wondered why… Was it because I was going in the opposite direction? Was it because the time of day was different? Was it because my pack was lighter on my back and my body was more comfortable with it after 6 days on the move? Was it because I had changed so drastically over that time that how I viewed the world was no longer the same? Was it, as is most likely, a combination of all of these factors?

Of course. Of course the trail would look different. Of course I had changed.

When I had walked it before, I had been heading South, climbing away from Tuolumne Meadows. Each step was a fight against gravity pushing against my heavy pack. Each step was working muscles that hadn’t been tested since the last backpacking trip. The terrain was headed towards thinning groves of trees and the barren expanse of the pass fourteen hundred feet above. The morning’s coolness soon gave way to the heat of a humid thunderstorm laden afternoon. The threat of the unknown, the potential obstacles, the hard fought miles, the aches, the pains, and all the other struggles of a multi-day trip lay ahead and weighed down every forward movement.

When I returned, I was trekking North, descending from Tuolumne Pass and returning to the shade and comfort of the ancient trees at the lower elevations. The morning cool had held sway over the stretch of trail above tree-line and then the afternoon’s warmth was kept at bay under the expansive canopy. My pack had been relieved of my share of the week’s meals. My muscles had hardened. My body had grown accustomed to the weight strapped across my hips and held securely to my frame over my shoulders. Gravity had become my friend. It helped my feet move forward and press down as each step went downhill from the last. I had survived the previous days, the aches, the pains, the struggles. All that was left was the final miles that would return me to the car and civilization.

Still, it was the same stretch of trail. The same trees. The same rocks. The same winding path. The same major landmarks. It should have looked familiar. Shouldn’t it? That’s where the source of confusion comes from. My mind was thrown off that it knew I’d walked those miles before but didn’t recognize them. It expected to and it riled at the disconnect, sending me warnings and demanding that I pay attention rather than relax and enjoy the beauty around me.

Because I’d felt that sensation before I was able to push it aside and still enjoy the final steps of my trip. It did make me wonder, however, how often we have similar perspective shifts in our day-to-day lives that cause us to worry. Those times we break from our routines, even only by a little bit, and our brains are thrown into overdrive… Driving familiar streets at a different time of day? Visiting a different neighborhood store than normal? Wearing a different style to a routine function?

What else? When have you felt a bit of that fight-or-flight response kick in when there was really no reason for it, when an almost routine, almost normal situation made you pause because it felt wrong, felt scary, felt funny?

I’m not really sure what the point of this post is. I was struck by the oddness of the situation on the trail and it made my mind wander a bit so now I’m sharing with you and maybe it will make your mind wander a bit too.

every journey is different

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The stone-stepped path works its way toward the pass and then beyond, far out of sight but never out of mind. The destination is known and yet it is different for all who take the journey. Some find beauty. Some find strength. Some find what they were missing. Some find and so on and so on and so on… Like the rocks that line the trail and mark the passage of miles, the possibilities are beyond counting. And that is just the trail itself. There are even more possibilities for those who step off the well-worn paths and find their own way.

day terrors

The crows fled before him in splashes of darkness against the coming dawn. It was often said that such birds were omens of ill fortune. He’d never seen them that way. He had always been fascinated by their ability to fly and he had long been searching for a flock of us his own. He wasn’t likely to find one but that didn’t keep him from hoping. He paused long enough to watch them disappear into the gloom where his eyes could no longer penetrate and then he lifted his gaze to the eastern skies. Very soon a new day would start and he still had a ways to go before he was safely within the confines of his home.

The bard had warned them not to get caught outside during the day.

It used to be that there were certain risks that could be taken while the sun was up, to get water, or relieve oneself, or tend to something else immediately near the house. But, the last time the bard had come through to sing his songs and share his tales he had warned all who would listen that the daytime would soon be completely unsafe. Only those who had listened survived the following weeks. The rest disappeared but only after their painful screams floated away from their homes.

Trist had been friends with the bard before he’d taken on the noble calling and so had trusted his word and stopped going out in the daylight. He had spent some time wondering if he would have listened so well if he hadn’t known the story master before. In the long hours of sunlight, there was time to ponder all kinds of what ifs and what could have beens.

Stepping forward again, Trist quickened his pace. He needed to hurry.

He’d spent the night checking on and chatting with his closest neighbors. He did that most nights. Trist didn’t mind that nobody ever seemed to come around to check on him. They were scared or had families to look after or had to spend the safe nighttime hours toiling away to provide for themselves and their loved ones. He understood. That was one of the reasons he was willing to go out and knock on doors each night. He didn’t have those same set of worries and responsibilities.

Being friends with the bard had certain perks like that. Trist did not take that for granted. He took it upon himself to help his neighbors as much as he could.
A hint of sunlight flashed across his path and Trist cursed. How he longed to be a bird. He could simply take to wing and fly away from the danger. He was fairly certain that he would be safe in the sky.

His front door came into view and Trist began to sprint.

He knew he was being paranoid. It was still too dark. There was no reason his heart needed to race the way it did, or his palms sweat, or his mind linger on the worst that could happen. He had heard that worst happening to some of his neighbors, some of his friends, though. And their screams were not easily forgotten.