I can hear the wind whispering in the trees around me, and for a brief moment as I lie on the dock listening to the waves lap against the wood I understand the language of the fir trees and the waves. The green needles of the pines above me contrast beautifully with the blue of the sky. I feel as if everything is suddenly connected and right, and I understand the language of the wind. The world is perfectly in line – with what, I don’t know – and then the moment ends, vanishing as quickly as it came. I try to remember what the trees and waves were saying, but their conversation is lost to me once more.
Is this what meditation is all about? I’ve had these sorts of moments before, but not often. Some people describe them as religious experiences, but to me they seem to come when I get outside myself, away from my thoughts, my reason, and let my instincts connect with the natural world around me. These moments leave me feeling elated, like an orgasm I had while intoxicated but can’t quite remember, leaving me with a skip in my step the next day despite the hangover.
I feel lucky to have had a few of these beautiful moments in my life, and I realize that it takes a little bit of luck and my own determination to let go, be still, listen, and soak in everything.
I remember my first meeting with beauty. I was quite young, and skating with my family at night on an ice rink we had made earlier that day. A sudden drop in temperature over the evening had frozen the rink quickly, making it perfectly smooth, and the cold seemed to cast a stillness over the fields around us.
The night sky was filled with stars and I could hear a farm dog barking far off in the distance. I glided over the surface and for a brief moment I felt as if there was nothing below me, and I was suspended with the stars, held in the beauty of the moment. I was overwhelmed by a universal understanding, and then it was gone. No matter how many times I skated around and around that rink I couldn’t get back to that beautiful spot.
Beauty touched me again in my early 20s, just after seeing a concert. I had spent an hour or so listening to a string quartet play while watching the afternoon sun filter through the trees outside the stained-glass window of the concert hall, making patterns on the floor that seemed to dance to the music.
As I walked home on that warm fall afternoon, I could hear leaves rustling in the breeze, and honking geese flying far overhead. Suddenly the world aligned. It all made sense – the music spoke the same language as the geese and the wind rustling the leaves. My mind knew everything for one brief moment. But when I tried to hold on, it slipped through my fingers like water.
The morning sun now touches the dock. A raven calls out, his voice echoing through the forest, alerting his friends to his find. He has discovered the compost I threw out this morning.
I’ll lie here a little longer but my mind is already filling with other things – the meeting next week, the great bottle of wine my husband will open tonight. The moment of beauty floats further out of reach as a speedboat races past, and I begin to think about the difference between an intoxicating orgasm and an orgasm while intoxicated.
Sarah Thomson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.