I pressed my back against the hard, damp ground and looked up, expecting to see the choreograph of stars overhead. And they were there, but they were not alone. I was. In the still darkness for a few moments while my friends hiked back to the cars and I stayed at the campsite, I was alone. A cloud hovered just below the top of the bald, creating a gray ring on all sides. There was nothing but firmament, a smoky ring, and the expanse of the night sky.
I tried to stargaze, but everything was misaligned. The stars weren’t alone. The cosmos continued on its dance, indifferent to a particular creature on a particular rock circling a particular star at a particular time. But that didn’t make me feel insignificant. Rather, I felt greater than the sum of my being. I was that rock and that star and that time. I was all there was. I was chosen, pulled out from the dark firmament. I could feel the Creator’s presence more intensely than I had in ages. I hadn’t taken the time to stop, be still, and look up. He was immovable; I was the one who hadn’t been there.
The ground didn’t feel so firm anymore. I couldn’t see any sign amongst the swirling gray and starry black. I dug my fingers into the ground, trying to hold on to some orientation. I wanted to scream out. I wanted to fly up. I wanted to repent. I wanted purification and connection and unification. I wanted all of the Real and none of the me that fucked up over and over again.
The higher my soul aimed, the more my fingers gripped the earth, because I’m human and cannot bear very much reality. It was all too much and too unexpected. The tears ran from the corner of my eyes down into my ears. My yearning was unquenchable, and I was scared of my own feelings. The cloud was rising. The gray ring was closing the sky. The universe shrank back to size. The stars disappeared. Now I was just in the dark on the ground. The mountain top experience was over, and only something as insignificant as a mountain was left.