Assessing One of Life’s Crossroads in the Snowy Woods on a Winter’s Evening
My fellow solitudinous traveller of harmonious soul. I write you from next to that crackling fireplace which resides within my rustic wooden cabin having just returned from a long walk in the surrounding woods. Confident of a well-stocked woodpile, the fire is fueled more than adequately and I feel nary a shiver upon me. A lone melted stump of dribbling wax emanates flickering light upon the wooden boards of these walls and allows me to distinguish the markings made on the paper by my pen.
I have felt my life coming to a crossroads, Tim. Seeking pleasure without heed or empathy has been a true, unimaginable joy for me but my calling has hurt myself and countless others. I am but completely alienated from any other being. More than that, I can feel the enterprise wearing thin. It is simply not the same fun it used to be. Is it possible, Tim, that my exploits of depravity could be behind me? So I journeyed up to this isolated abode to think and reflect on this portentous time in my life.
During the aforementioned walk from the shack the crunch of snow escaped from my snowshoes with each depression. Looking back, the brown cabin and the plumes of smoke billowing from its chimney stood against a background of countless gray trees. The 30 feet between the cabin and me was a stark white expanse marred only by my shoe prints. To the right of the cabin lied a lake extending 100 yards covered in a smooth sheet of dark ice. The evening sun was descending behind trees at the far end of the pool scattering dazzling pinks and blues among the trees and reflecting on the ice. The scene was quite placid. The corners of my eyes wrinkled as I succumbed to the beauty. The exhale that accompanied my pleasurable sigh condensed before me in a smokey white cloud. I do not venture here often, Tim, but sometimes this feels as though my true home. I never regret keeping this little slice of nature. The clarity of mind experienced during these long walks has been invaluable.
Turning, I made my way into the woods and was enveloped by trees. They cast long shadows all about the otherwise blank blanketed ground. The light blocked by the many arms and branches outlined, upon the floor of the woods, an interconnected highway of numerous crisscrossing paths. I trod upon the snow making my way further into the wooded area. Looking out through the leafless trees I spied a grey mass congregating in the sky before me and quickly making its way west. I knew not what these clouds foreboded; I would have to cut this wintry trek short.
I wandered about in the forest contemplating life and my current dilemma. It was hard to believe that all of it could be behind me, Tim. What once felt like my true calling had grown stale. It felt trite and derivative now, but what would I do with myself? Would I acquire some pointless hobby or dedicate myself to an insignificant job? I did not think I could ever find purpose in another pursuit.
Movement several paces ahead of me distracted me from these thoughts. A jack rabbit had scampered before me. I stopped so as to not scare it off. Sensing a presence, the lone creature paused to look around on its hind legs. Thankfully, I was downwind, the rabbit would not catch my scent. Truly a beauty, she had shaken her dull brown fur off months ago to reveal a coat of resplendent alabaster to mimic the snowy landscape. I remained in place to admire her but, suddenly, a white blur descended upon the bunny and made off with her. The rabbit was gone, a few specks of blood were all that was left behind.
As I approached the spot where the adorable little critter once stood I noticed more red specks in contrast with the pale ground. They made a trail of sorts, and I endeavored to follow it in order to discover the fate of this unlucky animal. All the while, the sky was getting darker. The trail lead to a large circle of blood next to a large tree. The blood was trickling down from a branch 20 ft overhead. Upon the branch a snowy owl looked up from his meal and spun his head round to look at me. His beak covered in blood, his cold, empty, uncaring eyes met mine and a chill ran through my body. We stood staring at each other thus for five minutes.
This brief moment seemed to last ages. I sensed there must be some greater meaning in this scene, and then I realized. This bird was not acting out of some insignificant feeling like pleasure, desire, or anger. This was what the owl did and would continue to do until it died. This was who the owl was. He did not spend hours awake at night pondering his true calling, he did what was in his nature. I felt that clarity which I had long sought and desired to break the silence.
“We are the very same!” I ejaculated
Startled by my eruption, the owl flew off, leaving his meal to fall from the branch. By now the sky had become completely covered by cloud and the first flurries had begun to fall. I approached the corpse of the rabbit and knelt down near it. The owl’s talon had sliced her belly open, the blues and purples of her entrails were sprawled about in the red before her. Steam rose from the gaping mortal wound. Her foot twitched and light, irregular breaths escaped from her. The rabbit’s eyes gazed vacantly into space. I reached out and cradled her small head in the palm of my hand. With the other, I gripped her just below the neck and with a sharp twist of both hands in opposite directions, a glorious snap punctuated the end of her life. I rose.
By now the snow was falling heavily and I started to hike back to the cabin. I routinely blinked to allay my lashes from the building weight of falling flakes. The snow fell upon and dampened my grey flecked hair. I pulled up the fur lined hood of my hide skin coat.
This trip has done me good. I came asking questions and I leave with them answered. It does not matter that my activities do not bring me the same joy that they had previously. This is who I am. I have affirmed my purpose. To deny it would be to deny my true nature — to deny life. Rest easy, Tim. I assure you, you will be hearing from me again very soon.