Tuesday 6 February 2018


*Not my picture: Starry Sky by artist Wenzel Hablik*
Three friends are lying down together in a peaceful, undisturbed field at midnight overlooking the last lights lit within a small, Slovakian settlement below. Mystical mountains stand tall in front, their bright, white peaks illuminated by moonlight. Behind them, nocturnal beasts begin to awaken beneath the forest’s dark green pelage. The sky is sprinkled with infinite mystery and phenomenon and the silhouette of the Milky Way is so apparent, that you really feel a part of everything and everything a part of you.
As they lay side by side looking above and beyond, embracing a mutual understanding of unspoken oneness, they begin to appreciate every past moment, which has led them all to this exact moment...

I think of the memories that we have shared together this past summer, volunteering at a Slavic-style, wooden hostel with the High-Tatra mountains on our door-step. I think of the many friends that I have made, the sounds of endless laughter and of freedom, and independence. As I slowly fall into the state of non-thought, silence and total awareness, I am fully relaxed and in complete unity with the two other beings beside me. I close my eyes, caressing the cool grass between my finger tips. I feel hollow somehow, yet full of love and elation.

...As I float further along a stream of consciousness, almost on the pinnacle of euphoria, my eyes are suddenly open. I am abruptly awoken by a powerful and heavy tremor ascending towards me, a force that I have never felt nor heard before. Feeling absolutely and overwhelmingly terrified, I freeze, unable to move. Its ferocious and predatory footsteps echo through the solid surface beneath me, like ripples in water. Carolyne begins to shout, “Get back! Go!” Instinct snaps me out of my petrification and simultaneously, Jack and I rise together without thought. Adrenaline immediately consumes me and we too begin to shout words of protection and authority. My heart is filled with the rawest emotion I have ever felt, the purest of fear. My body is overflowing with primitive power, I am no longer scared.

The path back down

He stops. He is now afraid of us.

The three of us retreat, still bellowing together like the true animals that we are. Realising that our collective cries have prevailed and we are no longer in danger, we take this moment to run as fast as we can, as if our lives depend on every step that we take.

We finally reach the bottom of the field and the beginning of the path to the town that we were blissfully overlooking only ten minutes ago. We are grounded by the safe, concrete floor of Ždiar. Completely speechless and too stimulated to stand still, we carry on walking aimlessly, each of us taking it in turns to look behind us expecting the grizzly beast to reappear. He is no longer in sight and we are no longer consumed by fear…

The field in Zdiar, the morning after.

Three friends are walking together along a peaceful, silent road comforted by the last lights lit within an authentic Slovakian town. Late night dog walkers casually greet them, completely unaware of what has just happened. They sit on a curb, all three of them lost for words...

I look to Jack and then to Carolyne. We begin to hysterically laugh, trying to process the past ten minutes, as well as the irony of it all. As the last few drops of adrenaline leave my body, still trying to work out if what just happened really happened, I am now back in the realm of thought with only one thing left to say…

“Periods really do attract bears, don’t they?”

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