Friday, March 27, 2009

The Perfect Day

Not all of us have one. Some of us are lucky enough to have more than one. But one thing is certain, we are all striving to achieve the mythical ideal of a "perfect day". I have had many great days, a handful of phenomenal days, even a few days achieving "take to the grave memorable" status, but I've only had two perfect days. One of those days was the first time I saw my daughter with the aid of a sonogram. My wife swears to this day that I had tears in my eyes at the doctor's office (I won't deny it, but I still say it was because of a bit of dirt). Of course, every day since then my daughter has tried her hardest to get me to forget that first glimpse of her, namely by being a normal teen-aged girl, but I digress. Truly, that was a perfect day, but it was not the first.

My first perfect day was one that I experienced by myself and an experience that I find incredibly hard to convey in words. I don't think I've told more than three people about this, but I do think it's time for me to try and explain it one last time. Forgive me if I stumble around a bit. I'm not used to writing on subjects like this in general, even less about myself in specific.

I am originally from Montana; I grew up living in several small towns all along the western side of the state. My family and I moved on a pretty frequent basis, the longest stretch being 6 1/2 years in a place by the name of Evaro starting when I was 5 years old. During the early to mid 80's we lived in this very rural community, which was about an hour drive from anything resembling an actual town. We were very poor at the time and could not afford much in the way of toys, but I still managed to have some really good times there. During this time I really learned to love the forest. I would frequently go out and explore the woods behind my house, being in an extremely rural area with few neighbors, there was just not much else for a child to do. I would venture out to watch the local wildlife (including a brown bear that never knew I was there), catch frogs and salamanders and climb trees. I would spend hours by myself and I would love every minute of it. This love of the forest has stayed with me through my childhood to my adulthood, and will continue until I am no longer around to enjoy it. But, my perfect day did not occur in this place or time, it's just the foundation for it.

Several years and three moves later I ended up in Missoula, Montana. Missoula is one of the larger towns in the region of the Bitterroot Valley and the place where all the people in outlying communities go to work, shop for groceries or just to hang out in the mall. I arrived in Missoula (pronounced mizoola) when I was in the 8th grade and 14 years old. I took to city life (such as it was in Missoula at the time) like a fish to water. That afore mentioned mall was a favorite location for me to go, especially to a place called Aladdin's Castle, my first and favorite arcade. Aladdin's Castle would be an incredible influence in my life in the following years, but it was not the center of my life, that would still be the forests.

When I was 15 or 16, it's impossible to remember my exact age now, I went for a walk in a small wooded area near my house. This was a normal occurrence for me, I found walking amongst the trees to be relaxing and stimulating at the same time. I enjoyed hearing the sounds of nature and it gave me a sense of calm that allowed me to concentrate on whatever problem or thought that had persisted in occupying my mind throughout the day. Oftentimes, this was the only chance I had to escape real world concerns and allow me to just be myself. Some people escape their problems through drugs or alcohol, with me, just being alone in the forest was enough to clear my mind, not that I had any grave issues to work through then. All I had to worry about at the time was the standard fare of a normal teen-aged boy. I started my trek that day by walking through the woods. I had no goal or destination in mind, I just wanted to be out. A little while later I came upon a tree near the edge of the wooded area. I wasn't tired, but for whatever reason, I decided to sit under this tree and just sit for a few minutes. And that was the start of my perfect day.

I don't remember falling asleep, or even if I actually did sleep (for the life of me, to this day I cannot tell which it was). What I do remember though is a feeling that everything was...perfect. I had no cares, nor worries. I had no idea of self or even where I was. The first thing I was aware of this is hard to describe. It was like I was waking up from a dream, although like I said, I don't think I was actually asleep. I had no thoughts, nor was I able to visually focus on anything. Even though it felt like the moment lasted forever, I don't think I was "out" long. The sun was in the same position, the temperature was still the same, but during that time it felt like the world just ceased to exist. Nothing mattered, I was just in the moment. The first thing I was truly aware of was a feeling of perfect happiness and of being completely at peace. At that point a nuclear bomb could have gone off and I don't think I would have cared. Hell, I doubt I would have even noticed it. As I regained my...I don't know, consciousness maybe, I remember being refreshed and able to think very clearly. I then remember getting up from under that tree and walking home, back through the woods that took me to that wonderful spot. After that my day was a blur, that feeling of peace and that everything was perfect was the last thing I remember of it.

Progress in the form of a housing development has removed that wooded area and the tree that allowed me one perfect moment in time. Now I can never go back and relive that part of my childhood, but as is the case with everything in this world, nothing ever remains the same. Time may have removed certain objects and details from my life, but the one thing it can never remove in the memory of that one Perfect Day.

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