IMJ 26 May 2008

Did you ever wonder what it felt like to just have fun and feel free? Did you ever have one of those magic days when you owned the entire universe, and not one thing could possibly go wrong? I know a couple who live that way every day. Having fun and being free.

I did not know, waking with the birds that high mountain morning, that this day would be a remarkable day.

It started normal enough: find a tree to pee, start a small fire, put high stream water on to boil for 9 minutes, brush my teeth with water boiled last night, and scrub the sleep off my face. Oatmeal in water. Water in cocoa. Socks, boots. Stuff the sleeping bag; roll the pad and tarp, secure stuff to the pack. A nice rock seat where I could watch the trout in the clear lake, while I had breakfast and the sun moved high enough to clear the ridge of gray rocks and trees to the east.

Clean up, grab stick and lean it against a tree, so I could sling on my pack and not need to scrabble in the duff for my stick.   Hat.   Sunglasses.   Off I go.

Ahead of me was a great trail. Easy hiking and pretty scenery. This was my favorite time of day. My most probable encounters this high and far back would be a moose, and elk, or, I hoped, a few owls. My owl list was not gaining any ground, and I wanted to check off more owls from my list.

Just as the trail got steep, there was a spring off to the west, so I slung off my pack and took a noon break, sipping cold spring water – snow melt filtered through mountain: long my most very favorite elixir – and munching on a homemade cookie. I found an old, silver, windfall log, and stretched out on its warm roundness for a short snooze. Just as I was falling asleep, a small sound whispered past my left ear. Fffffssssssshhhhh. Again. I very slowly opened my left eye, to see a small mouse carefully sniffing my hiking stick to gauge its salt content. Content that no small mouse could do much damage, I drifted off.

No mouse gnawings on the hiking stick. Now an hour later, and with the sun visibly in a different place, I shrugged back into my pack and grabbed my hiking stick and began the climb. With luck, I would sleep in a Divide rock cairn this night.

A few hours later and a few thousand feet higher, a comfortable-looking log invited me to stop for a rest. As I walked toward the log, two russet-rich furry snakes slithered around the log and into the brush beyond. I could see them, watching me, still as silence. How could I move with these two being so very still, thereby lowering the reputation of humans in high places forever? I barely breathed. Pine martens are the otters of the deep forests.

A couple minutes later, both pine martens ventured back up on the inviting log, and perched there, having a look at me. I began to hum. They listened. I told them not to be afraid, and they told me they never were. The concept surprised them. I could see this was going to be one of the hike’s better conversations. I slowly shrugged off my backpack, and lowered myself on it, having no invitation to join the charming couple on the inviting log.

There, for the next half hour, we had an exquisite conversation, me mostly asking questions, and the pine martens, with me translating, answering them.

I learned that all of life is meant to be lived in joy. I learned that no life belongs to any other life. Each life belongs to itself. Yes, life eats life, they told me, with beautiful carnivore logic, and that is also a part of life. It renews itself. They told me that to live in happiness; each life must own itself and be self-responsible. And did I know how to catch mice? Well, then how did I propose to sustain my life if I was not skilled in catching mice? Was I a grass eater, like the rabbit?

That day, I learned about freedom. And I learned about sovereignty. Freedom from fear, freedom of self-ownership, and freedom to be happy. And the best that I learned about freedom was that it only works at an individual level. I learned about being sovereign in my mind, being sovereign in my ethics, being sovereign in my actions, and in my responsibility for myself. I learned about having fun and being free from two little sovereign entities who understood Agorism.

I learned that when I know I am sovereign, and I know I am free,  then being self-responsible, self-governing and self-sustaining is almost more fun than playing with the pine martens.

Iloilo Jones wild_rose150

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