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Time to go back

By Jon Ward
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 1, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Jon Ward

The purple sky is feathered with wisps of nebulous pink and blue bleeding blurrily down into heaving violet mountains. Looming above the valley, the mountains are huge gelatin heaps folding over each other like frozen purple waves tumbling onto a desert beach.

A band of brilliant gold spills over the wavy rim of mountains in the west as the sun sinks further, softly pulling a starry night behind it like a bediamonded silk curtain.

The rich, teeming scent of desert flowers slowly fills you, intoxicating. A little desert stream warbles in the background. The sighing rush of the flushing waters bathes your brain in a warm glowing rhythm like hot days flowing away, and the storms going with them.

In another place.

You become so absorbed in the rat-race you often forget anything else exists.

Your feet beat against the sharp gray pavement. A car honks. The blocky geometric buildings crowd the black streets, suffocating them. A telephone peals out its demand. Engines growl in the background, motoring through the city. People rush around, driven and driving. Watches and clocks tick off the moments.

Poles, wires, and signs crowd the horizon. Yellow lights eat away at the pale blue sky, fuzzy and bright, drowning out the stars. You have to go somewhere, do something.

You are always going.

This is what we call living. The awe you felt as a child in just being alive has faded. Your feet are tangled in the stinging, brambled grasp of civilization.

We all need to escape every so often, escape into nature and back into childhood. When you sit in a desk, shackled, aspiring, do you remember why you are working? Do you recall what once gave your labor meaning?

The sharp cool smell-salty and alive-of the morning tide breeze. A little boy's feet sprinkle along the shining shore. His new mind sails the foam-crested seas.

The ocean breathes rhythmically against the shore, the foamy-maned blue stallions tumbling in and melting away with the checkered little trail of footprints. The gulls circle in a fresh sky. They reel, and cry above the seaweed-strewn sands.

The boy stops and covers his eyes with his hands. The sky slowly spins, turning blue from a rosy cloud-streaked gray. Suddenly the sea is a fiery sparkling sway, the sun exploding over the horizon into a blue, amniotic day.

You have become content with your gray, geometric world. You are resigned to artificial light and starless nights.

We are all walking single file through a great, growing labyrinth. As we march, our feet wear away the ground in our narrow lanes, making the walls around us grow higher and higher.

We sink deeper into our cities.

One day you must stop. Leave for a while. Only from the outside can you see the hungry cage you are erecting around yourself.

Now you walk through a forest, towering, lordly beings stretching into the sky and a delicate green canopy.

A breeze floats through, a mountain symphony playing itself through the branches, carrying the strange siren voices of the birds of the trees.

The thick carpet of fallen pine needles and crunching cones crackles underfoot. Delicate ferns reach out from the moss and mushrooms to tickle your legs. A deer ambles nimbly through the lush foliage, big black eyes beaming alertly, and bounds away silently.

The trees throw their wispy undulating forms not only against the lilac, vibrating tapestry of sky, but also, as the sun explodes down on you, they spill another dimension of themselves onto the curvy floor, dappling it in shifting reefs of color, the pulsating shadows making translucent gray snowflakes that deepen the tones of the earthy carpet they clasp and rest upon.

The moon is huge and pocked on the horizon. It sails through clouds like a glowing vessel on the streaming sea of night. It beams through the trees, a brilliant yellow, gray and white, slowly rolling down the deep blue sky like a giant luminous teardrop.

Stars gleam and twinkle in the dome of night like a million burning diamonds in an infinite cave. You cannot remember ever seeing them before.

This is where you have lived for millions of years. This is the world that shaped your being. Only very recently did you come inside and begin forgetting who you really are.

It is time to go back.

Jon Ward is an astronomy and creative writing junior. His column, Who's the Bull Goose Looney? appears every Thursday and he can be reached via e-mail at