Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wide Open Sky

There was a time many years ago when I went with my church youth group deep into the back country, where we stayed overnight on a farm far from city lights. Even there the distant glow of the world washed out the sky somewhat, but that night was the first time in my life I saw the stars as they really are. Not a dim sprinkling of pinpricks above me, but a vast and complex tapestry of light. I saw the wide swath of dense stars we call the Milky Way. For the first time, I understood what that meant.

Our galaxy is a rough disc a hundred thousand light-years across. That banner of stars swooping across the heavens, hard to see in the brightness of the world that was, is the inner edge of that disc. When you look at the sky and see the Milky Way, you're seeing a big chunk of the galaxy itself. That's why we named it after that swath of light.

Yesterday we managed to clear the area of zombies for the first time since I've been here. None to be seen, anyway, and none to be heard. The world wasn't silent, but for the first time in ages I wasn't hearing the moaning or scratching of the undead. There were no sounds of people working around the clock. We got rain yesterday, so even the guy running the pump got a nice break. Best of all, no sounds of war.

I lay there on the roof with Jess, our fingers intertwined, and we watched the stars do their dance. All the lights here were out, the darkness only broken by the bright moon. It was peaceful and gorgeous and I can't tell you how relaxing. As much as I miss the people and the community we left behind, I'm beginning to see how powerfully good this change can be. I feel almost lost in my effort to do as I've done for years, giving you all the details so you can understand the ins and outs of what happens in my life.

But this is pretty much it.

We're small and isolated, tucked away in a relatively safe place. Our needs are met, our troubles few, and the people we have aren't the scared group of survivors that founded Haven. We're old hands at this. We do it well. That experience lends us all the tools we need to cope, which is excellent in terms of our daily lives. It's hell on dramatic tension, however. We're as close to sublime as the world allows these days.

There will always be work, of course. There will always be dangers. But we're not trying to expand this home into a giant bastion in order to make a city, as Haven is becoming. Our only aim is safety and seclusion, away from the dangers and exposure of the larger world. Oh, we'll deal with the same things. There will always be zombies, always be renegades. We're a smaller target, and one would assume because of that and our distance from pretty much anything, we'll face proportionally smaller threats.

In Haven the work was never done. Here it's much different. We eat from our stores and hunt as we must, but everyone here puts in work on our crops and our herd of rabbits. It's no more than a few hours a day for any single person, leaving us time for other pursuits. Some work on other things, some pursue leisure. Even with a full day in doing this and that, no one is so tired they can't fine joy in the little moments. No one is so busy they can't seize happiness and find time to live.

I don't know how the others do it, but quiet stargazing is plenty for me.

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