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the sun on the smooth flat rocks, and me

Once, while riding in a VW bus into Oregon with three sweet hippies, a hard core runaway, and a mad genius, I got so sick. We stayed with some friends of the people I was travelling with in Eugene, OR for about a week. Then finally we headed into the Oregon rainforest with a box of food we had obtained from the local Christian charity.

The night we got there it was raining and so wet I didn't think they'd get a fire started to warm the beans, but they did. By that time I didn't care. I was huddled in my tiny spot on the floor of the van, shivering with cramps and fever. The next three nights were so cold I could not sleep, until the sun warmed things up a bit during the day. I just remember hoping it would be over for hours at a time.

My lungs and gastrointestinal system were inflamed and it was uncomfortable to breathe, move, live, anything. Finally, after the third night, as the sun came up, I thought, "Today I'm going to bathe."

I still felt like shit, but I knew the corner had been turned, and that I somehow needed to drag myself down to the riverbed, with its round flat stones, and the ice cold water at the cusp between winter and spring. My friend Rob came down with me and I was glad for the company.

It wasn't much of a bath. I jumped in to my solar plexus and the cold of the river sucked all the air out of my body. Somehow I still managed to get my head under and rub frantically at myself for a moment. That was enough, it was like being encased in ice.

I staggered up onto the rocks and the sun hit me full on and even though it was probably 60 degrees it felt like 80. The sun tore away my sickness and I realized at that moment how deeply sick I had been. Sick with fear for my whole life up to that point of some imagined crisis of pride that just didn't make sense.

It dawned on me that moment that I had no responsibility other than to simply keep myself alive, and that it wasn't really all that tough. Some wieght left me that day, and I have gone through harder times since, but never that same deep wieght that I had ever since childhood. It left me on that day.

I mention this because I'm getting over a cold, and feeling a little wieghty, and a bath in the river sounds very nice right now, so I can feel the warm intensity of the sun on my naked chest.