By: Mateo Klepper
As the lyrics “Clocks always tickin’ and the time slippin’ out from unda” blast from his analog radio, he ponders the moments that stand out most from his recent travels to the Sonoran Desert. Kairos is his name, a child born to live amongst the harsh environments of the Mexican high desert. He had visited family there not more than a week ago. During his stay in Toztopeco, a 6-inch layer of snow made itself at home. He recalls that the snow fell softly, allowing itself to adhere to the porous sidewalks. As the snow stacked, time seemed to stand still all around him. Sound itself was muffled as the snow came down harder. He saw children playing in the near distance but heard only the comforting murmur of a creek. As he proceeded to walk down a trail that ran along the rivulet, a pair of ravens gave him a holler. Though almost indistinguishable from one another, two overlapping calls gave a surreal depth to the raven’s vocalizations. The calls gave Kairos a sense of time, seeming to speed up the snowfall. The only other rhythm anchoring Kairos was the beating of his own heart. As if by the calculations of some algorithm or exponential device, the raven’s calls suddenly faded out almost as abruptly as they had made themselves known.
At this point, the snowfall had become steady, creating an impenetrable wall which made it difficult for Kairos to see farther than 30 feet in any direction. His thoughts wander; images of swimming enter his mind’s eye. He draws parallels between the stillness of the snowfall around him and feelings he gets when fully submerged in a body of water. “A vessel-less experience,” he would say. He would describe it as a feeling of being stripped from his body: all that’s left is his consciousness floating free. Water, he begins thinking, is what allows him this quality. It is the suspension within such an element that frees his body from gravity, from use of muscle or balance, a sort of psychosomatic transference. Again for Kairos, time stands still. He remains submerged under water in the depths of his imagination. He revels in the concept of time being related to the sensorial stimuli present in any given moment. Under water, nothing passes by him, nor is music winding itself around and into his ears, nor are thoughts running through his mind. Smells are immobilized, for even they give a sense of time via the movements of a chef cooking or an oven baking, strictly regulated by the ticking of seconds. The only sense present in this moment is a deep sense of self that swells Kairos’ soul.
The image of darkness slowly dissipates and Kairos finds himself staring up at a tree as snow delicately piles and balances itself atop a long skinny branch. Again Kairos is woven into the moment. He feels inseparable from it—even his thoughts are drenched with parallels making for quite a juicy experience. Reflective and appreciative, Kairos proceeds down the trail to enjoy the comforts of being blanketed by large billowing clouds and their frosty-fluffed offspring. “Such magic,” Kairos muses to himself, “how snow can know more about the fluidity of cyclical relationships than even the most mindful of humans, and yet snow, in its beauty, may not even be conscious of such a fact.” In this moment, Kairos sees the enantiodromia of it all; that is, the tendency for all we know to revert to its opposite, as when we see a sunny day turn to a torrential downpour and back again to ultraviolet rays. As Kairos watches his feet kick up snow into miniature frosted clouds, he notices bicycle tracks in the snow. Bicycle tracks so well preserved they must have been made just moments earlier. “But how can this be?” he thinks. “I’ve been on this trail for the entirety of my explorations and haven’t seen anyone...” Perhaps during his daydream lapse he was bypassed. In any case, the explanation matters less to him than the actual patterns the tracks left in the snow. In all there are two sets of tracks. His fascination is fixed on the quality of waves they left. One of the tracks has a short wavelength with its wave trough matching that of its wave crest, giving it the appearance of what one could call the “classic wave.” The other track, by stark contrast, is more or less a straight line through the snow, piercing the first track right down its middle to create an equator of sorts. He is drawn backwards again as he begins wondering how these two tracks were created. Obviously they were made by bicycles; however, it’s the nature of the “classic wave” that has Kairos most puzzled. The individual who made the “straight track” could have been traveling at any speed. In relation to the snow, however, the individual who made the “classic wave track” could not travel at any speed, for at a rate of travel too high the individual would slip out and likely fall. Thus, Kairos deduced that the individual who made the “classic wave” must have been going really slow weaving back and forth. As he pictured it, one of the riders probably left the other one in the “snow,” so to speak. As Kairos reflected upon his discovery, he realized that it wasn’t the passing of the riders that was allowing him to perceive time or rate of travel, but rather the waves the tire tracks had left in the snow. As Kairos proceeded down the trail, a profound sense of appreciation to the human experience expressed itself through tears that fell down his cheeks no faster and no more delayed than the snow falling around him.
Mateo Klepper is wilderness therapist, craftsman, and artist currently living in Saint George, UT.