Brought to you by Adventures in the Wilderness,™ a division of Book-In-A-Drawer Publications.™
I was napping in my camping hammock (eleven ounces and worth every cent) by a lake in the mountains, near where my camp was, when I was awakened by a deer moving about. Apparently the deer had not noticed me or noticed me and didn’t much care. Slowly I sat upright and watched (one does not lay out in a camping hammock, one sits width-wide and lays back as though the hammock was really a chair).
This was my third encounter with a deer in three days. The first time a deer came within thirty feet from me as I was drinking tea and moseying around by my campsite. We watched each other for a while, very intently, before he bounded off, though not as though he was frightened. The second encounter was the day before in camp. I was preparing for my daily sojourn at the lake when a deer ran by me—close enough that if I had taken two steps towards the deer, I could have touched him or her. The deer wasn’t running as though it was scared and while it noticed me, it seem to pay scant attention—it was as though it simply had some place to go.
And here was a deer again, very close and very attentive. This time I chose not to speak and instead just observed. The deer did the same for a bit and then it began nosing around as though it was investigating the area around him.
I watched and then spontaneously heard myself ask, “Okay Deer, just what do you have to say for yourself?” As usual when I ask such beings, I expected nothing in return.
“What brings you here,” asked the deer, “lying around like you have nothing whatsoever to do?”
I was officially flummoxed. “What,” I heard myself asking?
The deer repeated what it had said.
I skipped my confusion, though I can’t say I decided to skip it—somehow unusual was not the real point and my being just moved past it for some reason. After all, it wasn’t like I was having this conversation in public.
“Exactly the point,” I replied, “I’m here to do much of nothing, being long tired of doing too much of something.” I remained clearly perplexed, but somehow my mind was not refusing the encounter.
The deer made a spitting sound by flapping its lips. “Well,” started the deer, “you’re not doing nothing at all, you are waiting, which is not the same thing.”
“Hmmm—I do think you are correct, Deer, I am waiting. We’re all waiting I suppose, though not passively so—perhaps we are actually waiting for some kind of sign.”
“Well,” noted Deer, “this is where your waiting has taken you, at least for now—to a conversation with me.”
“I don’t mean to be rude,” I offered, “but how is it we would be having a conversation—that’s a bit unusual don’t you think?”
“Apparently, this is where my waiting has taken me as well, at least for now,” Deer responded.
“All right, Deer, we’re waiting—for what do you think?”
“We’re waiting to see if we’re alone or not. And I don’t mean isolated, but alone as in not connected,” offered Deer. Deer appeared to think a bit before continuing. “The same is true for deer as it is for humans—we ‘dance’ (Deer emphasized dance in such a way as to indicate it wasn’t meant in ordinary ways), but we do not connect.”
“So what do you mean by using the word ‘connect’,” I asked?
“The map of connections is about merging, one with another, without losing one’s self in the process. It’s as though a ‘we’ emerges without the loss of the ‘I’.”
“Ahh, yes,” I said. “And we know little about ‘we’ identities because we’re busy with ‘I’ identities,” I continued, though I felt a bit odd hearing my “I” speaking.
“I think so,” answered Deer again. “But that is to be expected because the ‘I’ is so powerful—actually an amazing bit of awareness in and of itself. The problem is the power of ‘I’ is also in the way of attaining a true sense of ‘we.’”
“Yet we know this—it is not new information,” I noted, though I had no idea how a deer knew it, much less how a deer had acquired self-reflection.
“This is not exactly an ordinary conversation even with people, much less with a deer,” I mumbled, “but it is an example of a ‘we’.”
“Well, for one thing, you’re in the wilderness—your context has changed and thus your mind’s emphasis. I’m always around here, but my context has changed because you’re obviously open to a conversation with a deer. So, because of unusual circumstances, we are less attuned to our normal patterns. But the real question is why we don’t have more of such conversations,” Deer offered.
I pondered for a moment before replying. “We don’t have such conversations because we’re different, we don’t speak the same language—or actually, deer don’t speak at all,” I said. After a moment’s thought, I realized a problem with my assertion. “Ahh, we just don’t know that everything speaks, we don’t listen to much of anything other than ourselves—to our normal pattern.”
“When patterns are broken, so are realities.” Deer cocked his head and I could swear Deer smiled—at least what humans would call a smile. “In this particular case, I’m not just a ‘magical’ deer, you are also a ‘magical’ human.” Deer got very still, and deer can be incredibly still, almost like they are statues.
“But how do I know that I’m not just having a conversation with myself or you with you,” I wondered? “Broken realities are sometimes a herald of a broken mind.”
“Well, a conversation with one’s self is still a conversation.” Deer raised his head up and then down as though emphasizing his point—or something. “Perhaps we simply created each other as a way to connect, since that is what we are waiting for. Perhaps we already have a broken mind and a broken reality and connecting is a way to heal,” Deer offered.
Deer studied me intently. His eyes gleamed and his fur seemed illuminated. Perhaps it was the angle of light. Deer seemed to know what I was thinking. “One being’s illumination is another being’s sleep mask. But our conversation is not specifically about illumination or cave dwelling, it is about connections and being open to them.”
I took a deep breath. “Yes, I think without being open, I would not be able to converse with a deer or a deer with me. And I admit, as puzzled as I am, I like this opening. Thank you, Deer—I am glad to have this conversation, however it came about.”
The conversation was obviously coming to an end, though I was still troubled about this connection business. “Journey well, Deer,” I finally mustered.
Deer was again very still. Finally he started to move towards the forest and away from the lake. Deer stopped and circled back. “Thank you as well—today at least there is connection, however weird it seemed to come about.”
It was quiet, save the cold wind off the lake. Sunlight was touching the western side of the trees as the sun began its descent. My mind was oddly quiet, my body oddly at peace, despite the fact that something seemed unanswered. One thing was for sure, I could not say I was alone in the wilderness.
Note: No animals or humans were harmed in any way as a result of the conversation or its aftermath. Furthermore, this story is entirely fictional, though used to tell a truth, and any resemblance to any person or deer, living, dead, or somewhere in-between, is purely coincidental.