Well, it happened again last night, that thing I do all the time where I’m out walking at night and out of the blue, a thought or a memory hits. I’ve written about that before, and this is one of those times I have just got to write it down.
In college, back in Wyoming, I made friends with a group of people from Jackson, Wyoming, near Jackson Hole. I would go there with them on school vacations and make visits over the summer. We got to be good friends and it was always non-stop fun, real fun. They were truly funny and listened to some of the best rock around, but lesser-known stuff like Mother’s Finest and Legs Diamond. They were some of the very few in my life who could hit me with something I hadn’t at least heard about. And these folks could party like…well, nobody could party like these guys.
One year I went there over spring break. Spring can be so incredibly beautiful in Wyoming.
We went to a spot outside of town that had natural warm springs and laid down blankets, spread apart in the grass. I remember it being a fantastic day, weather-wise. It was just warm enough to not be too cold and there were flawless blue skies and no breeze. You can see further than you can imagine, up there in the mountains on a clear day.
It’s not possible to describe that day, really close to the Grand Teton mountain range, near Yellowstone Park. The Tetons is beyond my ability to put into words. But I can say, without fear of contradiction, that the Tetons are cool and impressive looking. The scene in the photo was what it looked like that day but were closer to those mountains than pictured here.
We laid there, out in the noonday sun on that perfect day, not saying much. It took away our ability to speak, but that silence during nature was so calming and so peaceful and life-affirming, just perfect contentment, and tranquility.
Off in the distance we noticed a herd of buffalo, just shambling around while they grazed. We were silent.
After a while, the herd started moving in our direction. They were walking slow, and we could see there were buffalo of all sizes as they headed directly toward us. They were coming closer and closer and nobody so much as twitched, and finally they reached us.
We were all still spread apart, and the herd walked between us all, on all sides, in between the blankets.
They were slow walkers, and it took quite a while for them to move on. They were close enough we could have reached out and touched them. Such huge, gentle quiet creatures.
No one moved a muscle or said a word the whole time. We all were just there, surrounded by buffalo. And we were all blown away beyond words.
It was like we all were transfixed, caught in a magic spell. It was like we all, all of us young kids and all those beautiful animals, shared a spiritual bond.
We watched them as they slowly made their way past and watched for as long as we could see them. I don’t remember anybody saying a word. It would have broken the spell and cheapened the moment somehow.
It hit me full force last night—I have been in a herd of buffalo.
It is beyond my ability to put across in words the feelings of that day—I don’t even know if such words exist.
I haven’t thought about that in a long time. It obviously wasn’t something I’d forgotten, just something I hadn’t thought about in a long time. I can still see that day in my head and in high definition.
I have to say, looking back over my life, this was one of the absolute coolest things that ever happened to me. I have to say though that surviving a major stroke was up there on the coolness scale too.
At times I’ve replayed that scene in my head when I’ve needed to relax and be calm.
If I have anything to be thankful for (and I do) it’s that a stroke hasn’t erased my memories. If it had, it would be as if that day hadn’t happened. That magic day would have been lost to me forever. I’m not the same man I was before that stroke, and if there is anything I can be happy about it that he left me his memories, both good and bad, and this is one of the very best ones. He went through some very beautiful and fantastic events. Parts of that guy are gone now, left in the past, but he sure went through some great experiences, and he left behind the memories.
When I began my new post-stroke life, I didn’t have to start all over again from scratch. I had beautiful memories to build on and to add to. I had great memories to guide me and to aspire to in my new life.
Of course, the bad memories are, but they serve as examples of things to avoid, moving forward. I have those beautiful memories and they help guide me in positive directions as I pick up the pieces and move on.
If I live, those beautiful memories will too. For me, they are what life is all about.
I know loss of memory can be a huge issue for stroke survivors, but somehow it hasn’t been an issue for me. I wish all stroke survivors could be as lucky.
And I also wish everybody could know what it felt like that day and experience that feeling every day.
The world would be a much better place to live.
|Isaac Peterson grew up on an Air Force base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, he embarked on a career as an award-winning investigative journalist and as a semi-professional musician in the Twin Cities, the place he called home on and off for 35 years. He doesn’t mind it at all if someone offers to pick up his restaurant tab and, also, welcomes reader comments. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more articles by Isaac here; https://www.brainenergysupportteam.org/archives/tag/isaac-peterson|