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Today I had a hard time falling asleep at night. I say “today” because I went to bed at around 1 AM, yet I couldn’t fall asleep until much later at around 3 AM or so.

I was becoming more and more frustrated with not being able to fall asleep. Instead, I found myself going down endless wormholes of thoughts. I was apprehensive about my thinking at first, blaming myself for still being awake. That lasted for about a second. Then I decided to be kind to myself and practice self-compassion. I told myself that it’s alright, that I can fall asleep, and that I respect myself.

Before having difficulty sleeping, I had intended to wake up at 5 or 5:30 AM, as a way to start waking as early as I once did four months ago. When I realized that was no longer possible, I changed my alarm’s time to 8 AM and 9 AM. I woke up with the alarm but decided to sleep some more and woke at noon.

I was a bit apprehensive about waking at noon. That’s a lot later in the day than 5 AM! That didn’t last long either. I got a book bag and got myself ready to go hiking. I brought my Native American flute, a bottle of water, my camera, a microphone recorder, a pair of gloves, and a long sleeve shirt.

I got to the mountain at around 1:10 PM. I was surprised to see a car backing out of the parking lot, making room for me to park literally 20 feet away from the beginning of the trail (versus having to park up to a fourth of a mile away).

I started hiking at 1:14 PM, after putting on some hiking shoes, and was surprised to find myself at the top in just fifty minutes. I’ve hiked this trail twice before, and for some reason I was under the impression that I should give myself at least 4 hours of daylight to complete the hike.

Something interesting I saw was a man and a woman, hiking with two dogs. They got to this part of the trail where you have to climb more or less, and I was surprised to see both of their dogs able to make it up the steep rock. I told the man that those dogs could be superheros and he laughed and said that they are a lot more primal than we are.

After getting to the peak, I went around it to the back. I was surprised that there was more trails here, and sat down on a rock overlooking another beautiful peak. Then I played two songs on my flute, put on a long-sleeve shirt, drank some water, and took some photos. My camera’s battery died as I was 30 seconds into taking a video of the peak I was looking at, across a valley.

Another man and woman were hiking close-by when I heard her drop a water-bottle far down the rocks and dried pine leaves. Then I heard her say that she’s going to get it just because she doesn’t want to litter. As I was walking by them I said that’s something I never heard on the East Coast (it’s obscure of course, I’m just referring to the mentality of picking something up . She really went out of her way to climb down to where the bottle finished its descent to pick it back up; and she also really didn’t need it, I’m sure the man with her had enough water for the both of them. It only takes half an hour to get down from the top of where they were.

Around the same time I saw these people drop the water bottle, before or after I do not know, I heard them talking about how people stop at the first peak (the one I had stopped at the first two times I’ve hiked this trail). Then I asked them if it goes on, and they said it does, to another peak. I was really excited!

I more or less ran up the remainder of the trail, to get to the other peak. There were some people there. A couple of friends, and a woman off on a rock I had seen earlier. One of the guys, from the group of friends, mentioned how a lot of the people stop at the first peak. Rock Woman said something about how the tourists think that’s the end. I told them this is what I did the first two times I hiked the trail, as a tourist.

The group of friends started to climb up some rocks of the peak we were by, and Rock Woman and I spoke for a time. I said I was surprised it took me fifty minutes to get to the top. I thought that hiking would be a four hour endeavor. Then she told me that a lot of people think hiking has to take six or eight hours, practically the whole day, yet it doesn’t. She told me about how she would hike during her hour lunch when she was a research assistant at some place close to a trail.

Wow. Isn’t that amazing?

Rock Woman told me about two other trails I could hike. I figured I would Google them at some point, then I sat down on a rock and looked out at the mountains. Earlier, before I knew I could get to this second peak, when I was behind the first one and had finished played the flute, I asked myself if there was anything I wanted to contemplate.

Then I said to myself, “what more could you ask for?” Meaning that the day had been perfect, the time to get to the top was fantastic, and the temperature was great as well. Then I find myself finding more, another peak that I’ve never been to before!

Sidenote: my roommate just walked in where I’m writing on a couch, he was on the way to the bathroom and asked about my day. I told him about it and he said that he woke up at 6 AM and went snowboarding. I was amazed. I responded that I can’t imagine what it’s like going out snowboarding, while right here where we are it was 65-70 degrees. As we finished our conversation he said that it was a great day, which I replied back that he took the words out of my mouth. Then I look back to my screen and see that I had written just a second before that “the day had been perfect.”

It has been indeed!

So let me get back to sitting on the rock, looking out to the mountains that I could see capped with snow miles and miles in front of me. I took out my flute and played for less than thirty seconds. I was testing to see how the wind would impact my notes. I stopped playing when it completely killed my notes and waited for the wind to slow down a bit. Then I put the flute back up to my mouth, and twisted it 90 degrees to the right side. The wind was coming from the left, and without a wind-shield it’s impossible to play a flute with the holes facing up.

I played for about a minute or more, then when I was done and put away my flute, I heard Rock Woman clapping. I thanked her. A guy from the group of friends behind her that had climbed up some rocks may have said something, I didn’t hear it. I said thank you to Rock Woman.

Then her and I chatted a bit more. She gave me the name of five mountains I could climb, and told me the one that we were on wasn’t the best, or her favorite, or something of that nature. Woah! I can’t imagine any better than the mountain I’d been on today!

Earlier when Rock Woman and I were speaking I shared with her how my camera had died five minutes before I even knew this second peak existed. I said that now I had to come back up here, soon. It took me three weeks since I moved here to get the “courage” to hike this trail, thinking it would take so long, but now I had a great excuse to return sooner rather than later.

I took notes and wrote down all the mountains. Rock Woman made her way down from the rock she was sitting on, on the way to hiking back down the mountain, and she was a foot or two away from me now. She said that she hikes 5-6 times a week. Then she told me about how there’s people that hike all of the mountains she’d mentioned in a day, which comes in at around 22-25 miles, which took her 10 hours to complete. Apparently some people run this “trail” as well, upon hearing this I told her that I would accomplish this by July. She said that’s amazing, if memory serves me right.

Thinking back on having said this, it means a lot. A lot of work goes into accomplishing this by July. I don’t know when else I’ve said something like this to anyone. I mean, it would be as crazy as saying to someone by next July I will run a 5 minute mile. I mean, sure, it would be nice, and sure one of my goals at the beginning of my 365 journey was to run a mile in 5 minutes and 30 seconds, if my memory serves me right, but I wouldn’t flat out say to someone that it be done, let alone something so grand!

The most I’ve run before was 8-10 miles I think, which I wrote about. It took me three hours if memory serves me right. This 22-25 marathon trail apparently also has an elevation difference of 7,000 feet. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I asked Rock Woman for clarification, 1,700 feet difference? Nope, 7,000. A mile. You would descent and ascend more than a mile, over the course of running a marathon distance across mountains. That’s wild!

Rock Woman told me that she likes to keep track of her miles to see how much she’s hiked, she said it can be encouraging to see the total: “like I hiked 15 miles this weekend, and that pushes me.” Wow. I ran 10 miles this week. I can’t imagine hiking 15 miles in one weekend! That too is wild.

So Rock Woman was telling me about how it helps to keep track the distances and how she enjoys it, and I mentioned I do that too with running using the MapMyRun app. She said “right,” and went on to describe diligence, if memory serves me right, and how keeping track of the distances fosters diligence. I shared with her how writing for storyofoctavian.com has transformed me, since I am more aware of my day and writing about it changes the day itself, before I even write, because “I realized that my life is like a canvas and I am the one painting it, and if I do something stupid in my life, then that means I have to write about it, and that would be like taking a razor to a canvas so I end up being more aware.” She agreed with this too, saying that keeping track, such as being diligent, makes one more intentional.

Rock Woman went on to say that diligence is the building block of self-care, which is the building block of respect, which she concluded with something along the lines of “which leads to a sweet, [good, great, perfect] life.”

Wow. I wanted to hug her as she said this and we both smiled and laughed. I was too shy to ask her if I can hug her, which is odd considering I’ve hugged people at places like raves: (may I follow this with a long bleeeeeeeeeh? Just last night, or this morning… As I was falling asleep, I asked myself why I went to a handful of raves throughout my life and what the point of it all had been? Maybe I learned something, so I won’t be too hard on myself…) … yet here I was, too timid to ask a stranger if I can hug them.

Instead, I went for a “what’s your name?” She shared her named with me, and I with her, and I shook her hand. Rock Woman said that she hopes to see me again, and that it’s not unlikely it will happen now that I know about the other places. In my mind I thought that now I have a good excuse to hike all of the mountains she’d mentioned. I even thought of something funny to say to her should I see her again. It would be something along the lines of “you know the scene is great here, but I’ve just been hiking a lot hoping to see and hear you again.” Now I wonder the chances of her remembering the website I mentioned I write for. If she had the patience, i.e. diligence to read this entire post, then I guess my joke wouldn’t be as funny. If it comes to that, I’ll improvise.

So upon thinking of seeing Rock Woman again, simply by hiking on rocks as a way of connecting with her, I thought back to a time where I met a friend at the first yoga class I went to. I didn’t ask for their number the first time I met them and dropped them home, since they would have had to have taken a bus otherwise, thinking that I don’t want to be connected to them electronically simply because I don’t have a desire to be connected to them.

For those of you reading this, it doesn’t mean that I was adverse to connecting with this friend beyond the first time. It meant that there was no attachment of keeping the connection going, even though I enjoyed their presence.

I saw the same friend again at the next yoga class, and I dropped them off home after we were done again. They asked me for my phone number, which I gave to them, all the while thinking “I wonder how long we could have kept our communication line by diligently going to this yoga class and planning when and where to spend time together, after yoga.” I wasn’t that invested in not giving my phone number to see the answer to my wonders. Yet I’ve run across this sort of scenario again today and I wonder if I would be able to connect with this person by the walking on rocks network.

Rock Woman made her way down from where I was, continuing her descent down the trail. I asked her if she’s from Europe, knowing that she would say no, my parents are, and that’s exactly what she said. Her parents were from Sweden. I shared with her that I’m from Romania, and if my memory is correct, that I want to move to Sweden in four decades or so. I apologized for not knowing if this was the correct country, saying that sometimes I have trouble remembering dreams that are far out in the future, yet that I’m certain it’s Sweden I want to move to eventually.

Then she responded back saying that Sweden is beautiful, and I agreed. I said I’d want to get a cabin there and write away towards the end of my life. Rock Woman then said that she’s always felt that paradise is on the side of a lake somewhere in Sweden. To this I said that I will remember her words and that it’s a great saying. I would have told her that I want to write it in a book some day, or even make a book out of it, but I was too shy, thinking again as I had when I decided against asking her if I may hug her: best to not be too eccentric.

Her response was that “I hope you write about it in your writings today.”

I smiled and said I will.

I got home and ate, after not eating for 14 hours or so. You see, last night, when I couldn’t fall asleep, I decided to eat and hoped it would put my stomach to work and in turn make me tired. The melatonin wasn’t knocking me out, so eating at that odd hour was really all I had left. The Essenes wouldn’t eat in the night at 3 AM though; just making a note.

So what’s interesting about all of this is that the woman I met in Virginia, that I referred to as C-lady in the past, messaged me while I was writing this piece. Her last message was “you are having a fun filled day. I’ve heard you laugh.”

That’s odd because today I laughed in a way I haven’t laughed this entire month. It started with laughing, somberly late this morning at 2-3 AM, when I had some sort of realization about my last and first, i.e. only, romantic relationship with someone. I think the realization was that I had what I would consider as happiness back then, in terms of my job, my partner, and my knowledge, yet I wasn’t happy somehow, so I laughed and laughed because it was so funny to see not being happy back then. It made me realize that it’s silly to not be happy ever! I thought back to the movie I watched the other day, Lion, along with Slumdog millionaire. Even in my previous relationship, and after, I was not happy. How could that be? I did not grow up begging on the streets without eyeballs, because of criminals who took them away to make sure that I could get more while begging. I am not an orphan who does not know his family. I am not unconscious of the force of the universe and the infinite energy that runs through us all.

Last night I could see the silliness of unhappiness, yet I was still a bit uneasy about not falling asleep, along with all of my thoughts. I knew that I would feel better at some point, yet I couldn’t feel better then.

So today as I’m looking out across at the mountains capped with snow, about to take out my flute and test it against the wind, I smile and laugh out loud. I laugh and chuckle and laugh and chuckle. Look how marvelous this is! I told myself before even knowing this second peak existed that I am ready to walk back down, without contemplating anything, and I asked myself what more could I ask for?

Then here I am, looking out across this beautiful scene, knowing that the way I felt just 12 hours earlier was not forever, and experiencing the bliss I could feel was so close while trying to fall asleep, yet was also seemingly so far. It makes me realize that sometimes to experience certain feelings or revelations, we have to be in a certain spot in time and space. We have to intersect with the time and the space and the energy and the wavelength of what we are meant to experience. I couldn’t laugh and laugh happily like I did looking out at the mountain scene, all the while trying to fall asleep at 3 AM and keep my thoughts from keeping me up. I mean, with practice, I can, I just couldn’t back then. As long as I know that the future doesn’t have to be limited by my past, and that I don’t always have to approach things like I did before, then I feel that there will be bliss more often than not.

Even last night I was sad by the idea that I always see connections, yet the connections lead nowhere. I was frustrated. How can I connect things so well, and seemingly even see into the future with creations and ideas such as Serperio, i.e. Google Home, Amazon Echo, and so forth, and Automated Shopping Sensors, i.e. Amazon Dash, and not be in a “profitable” situation in the present? At one point I even bought my friend half a Bitcoin for his birthday, which was worth $50. I got half a Bitcoin for myself as well, and gambled it all away. My friend gambled away $10, then made it back over a few hours. A few months or a year later, his Bitcoin was worth $500+. He spent it and invested it into other things, yet if he held onto it today, it would have been worth $2,500.

I was having a hard time falling asleep, because I was thinking of things that I have experienced as unfortunate. Of course, my perspective was limited. I wasn’t thinking from the perspective of Lion, Slumdog Millionaire, or 1-7 year old me that grew up in Romania. I was thinking from the “I can’t believe I lost so much and so much and so much, yet I’ve had good insights, and the good insights I’ve had I didn’t pursue the proper way, and that too makes me feel like I lost.” I haven’t lost.

I’m walking through a valley now, and eventually I’ll get to a mountain I can hike higher than I’ve ever been before. I just had to see the bottom of the valley before I could see the peak.

C-lady also told me that her thoughts included me on and off paper years ago. I’m highly curious to learn what this could mean for her, and for me, and for the world. Maybe we’ll end up creating something great with our connection and vibration.

I look forward to snowboarding down mountains eventually and to seeing C-lady at some point later down my life.

To be continued…


Also published on Medium.