I've been in the woods for the last couple of days--straight, I mean. I haven't seen another human being the whole time. This is not anything I anticipated doing when I came to school, here. I thought I'd learn to wave a magic wand and do the impossible. But then I chose Charlie as my teacher and here I am doing what I thought was impossible, no wand required.
He defined an area with flagging tape for me about fifty yards on a side. I'm not allowed to leave it, nor is anyone else allowed to come in. I have a sleeping bag, liner, and pad a hammock and a tarp, a jug of water, a box that works as a mini-outhouse so I don't have to dig holes all over, my knife, a med kit, my toothbrush, my flashlight, the clothes on my back...and that's it. I'm allowed to leave my area twice a day, and only to go to a sort of drop box a little way away in the woods--in the morning I pick up my food and water there and in the evening I drop off any leftovers and get more water. If I need something I'm supposed to leave a a note in the box.
I never see or hear Charlie when he makes the drops, and of course he is trying not to be seen. He's like Santa Clause, an invisible presence dropping off packages while I sleep.
I sleep surprisingly well. With nothing else to do, I go to bed at desk, rather than use my flashlight. I fall asleep pretty quickly, then wake up in the middle of the night for a while and think or daydream. If it doesn't look like rain I leave the tarp off and so I can watch the stars move across the sky through gaps in the canopy. Then I sleep for a while again. Then I wake up at dawn and listen to the birds and daydream some more. I don't have a watch or anything. I don't know when anything happens or how long anything takes. When I get hungry I walk down and get my food for the day. I do my practical yoga exercises and my Reiki exercises. I walk around my little area. I spend time looking at things, sometimes because I'm bored, sometimes because I'm interested and I have the time to look as long as I like. I spent what I think was a couple of hours the other day waiting for something I hadn't seen very well to come back out of its hole, but it never did. Eventually I eat some more and go to sleep again.
The only thing that really bothered me was knowing I'd be alone on my birthday. I'll celebrate with my friends and family later, of course, but on my actual birthday I felt pretty out of it. Like a hollow sort of thing.
"Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me" I sang to myself, quietly, but my voice sounded odd in the wilderness and I stopped. I guess I felt pretty lonely.
But then when I went down for my evening visit to the drop box--I was later than usual, it was night already--I saw a light, like a candle or something. As I got closer, I could see it was a candle, a candle on top of a cupcake sitting on top of the drop box. And next to the cupcake was a package wrapped in old newspaper. I opened it by candle-light--it was a new write-in-the-rain notebook, the kind scientists use to take notes in the field.
I've never told Charlie my birthday. He hasn't told me his, and we don't normally talk about anything personal with each other, unless it relates to my studies somehow. We don't have that kind of relationship, I guess. And obviously he had found out, found out and gotten me a present.
I looked around and didn't see anybody, but obviously he was watching me--he wouldn't have left a candle (or a cupcake) unattended in the woods. I made a wish and blew out the candle. I ate my cupcake and left the newspaper and candle with my leftovers in the box.
"Thank you!" I said, into the darkness.