Almost zen, or maybe some kind of vu

So, more snow over the last couple days. Santa Fe is covered by light, powdery snow and I’m out walking the dogs at 8:30 or so this evening. With the full moon, it’s wild, the lights from the city, due West and maybe 9, 10 miles away, are strange under the low clouds because the ground is reflective and white as far as you can see and the moonlight and city lights bounce up and light the clouds from underneath. When the moon is full here, it’s brighter than a street lamp, it casts strong shadows, and it’s strong enough that your rods and cones get enough data to clearly distinguish colors. It’s more like having Wayfarers on in the sunlight than walking outdoors in dark of night in an area with no streetlights whatsoever.

So we’re trudging along, the air is crisp, it’s probably 18 degrees without the breeze, and there’s the amazing moonlight. Even though my dirt road has been pretty well travelled by people coming home from work, the breeze has redistributed the powdery snow and it’s almost smooth again. The hills around here and the scraggly high desert bushes on them are clearly visible jutting out of the snow, and people are all burning pinon and juniper, there’s a distinct and pleasing smell to wood fires here.

And I had this strange, almost past-life experience, it came on slowly and left slowly so it’s hard to pinpoint. But suddenly became aware that I knew that I’d seen the same moon before in the distant past and was looking at it in a memory with an unfamiliar reverence. I had a weak but clear impression of wearing furs or heavy skin garments and knowing that “back home” there was a roaring fire waiting and I was looking forward to it; my only impression of “back home” was a dark, cozy space with a big fire, not a lot of other details because it was sofamiliar and didn’t even warrant closer scrutiny any more than you examine every detail of your coat before you put it on. I was aware more and more of an incomplete but detailed memory of a time I’ve never lived in, just at the edge of awareness like when you can almost remember the dream you were having right before you woke up. Something about heavy boots, and of having drunk some kind of sweet fermented beverage before I’d gone into the cold. (I want to call it mead, although I’ve never had mead.) I’m surrounded by low, dark houses and  powdery untouched snow in real life, I picture almost the same scene in the back of my mind but with thatch roofs and different trees more or less superimposed – maybe like when you meet a teacher from your past in a grocery store; you can see the person standing right there in front of you, but you know them most intimitely in another environment so you can also vividly remember that other environment. Hard to explain. In my memory, I’m not sure why I’m out walking, but it’s lighthearted, I’m not hunting or hunted and as much as I’m enjoying being out, I’m looking forward to getting home where it’s warm. No names, no people, no idea about some daytime job. There’s a dog barking in the background and wind, that could be here and now or the memory just as easily. Just a little memory that’s comfortably my own and at the same time absolutely foreign.

It was not exactly vivid, but there were lots of distinct impressions. Not a deja vu, more like a presque vu, the feeling of almost, but not quite remembering something; in modern terms, I didn’t remember anything of value, no dates, no map names, nothing, but in an older part of me, I remembed what would have been just one of those pleasant moments like watching the sun goes down or smelling freshly cut grass on a spring day, those moments where you’ve stopped your internal dialogue for just a moment and are genuinely in the moment. A pleasant walk in the snow on a crisp night, knowing that I’d be in the warmth of home soon but also enjoying the moonlight and the kind of private moment that I have so few of here in the present.

Kind of nutty. Anyway, think about that when you’re trying to tell your friends how “Dungeons and Dragons” isn’t affecting your kid in any way. Maybe I’ve lived many lives before and an almost-familiar moment from one slipped close to consciousness for some reason. Maybe I just watched Return of the King one too many times. Hell, maybe I’ve had a stroke. But it was an uncommon couple moments, I’m much more of a deja vu kind of guy.

Gotta go. Simpsons are on.