I stared through the windshield at the trees in front of me. I didn't see the trees, but I stared nonetheless. If I had seen the trees, I might have thought to myself: "Those trees seem to go on forever. Those trees are never-ending." But, like I said, I didn't see them.

I didn't see them because my mind was elsewhere. Or maybe my mind wasn't anywhere at all. Perhaps my mind had stepped out for a moment to get some air. I don't know.

What I do know is this:
I saw nothing and felt nothing. I tasted and smelled nothing. All I did was hear, and what I heard was the ocean. I heard the sound of a wave rolling in and crashing on the beach. I heard another wave do the very same thing. Then I was underwater, and the waves were crashing over me. The dull, rhythmic, muddy roar of the ocean surrounded me. Between swells, I heard momentarily peaceful saltwater burble around my head and past my ears. It was wonderful. I was nowhere near an ocean.

A voice was speaking. I could hear the voice--knew that it was a voice--but couldn't hear any words. Didn't want to hear any words. As the voice grew louder, the roar of the ocean began to fade. And as the roar faded, a remarkably desperate disappointment filled me up.

"--wanna come with?" It was my brother's voice. I had no idea what he was talking about. I responded accordingly.


"I said, do you wanna come with?" My window was rolled down. He was standing outside, looking in at me.

"Come with where?"

My brother stared at me through the open window for a few moments. "Did you hear anything I just said?"

"No. What did you say?"

"I'm gonna hike up to the viewpoint and take some pictures. The sign says it's just a half-mile up. So...do you wanna come with?"

"Okay...yeah, I do. You go ahead, though, and I'll meet you up there in a couple minutes."

"I can wait for you. I'm not in a hurry."

"No, it's cool. I'll be right behind you."

"Okay." He was speaking slowly now, carefully. He looked weird. That is, he looked at me weird, like he thought I was acting funny. (I was.) "I'll see you up there, then."

"See you up there."

My brother walked away.

I tried to go back to the ocean, but I couldn't. I wanted to be underwater again. I wanted more waves to wash over me. But I couldn't. And they wouldn't.

After ten minutes of trying and failing, I rolled up my window, locked the door, walked up the path, and found my brother. He took my picture. I took his picture. Through the lens of his camera I saw mountains and wildflowers and rocks and birds and glaciers and trees.

And yes, they were beautiful.

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