There are some magical moments in life – ones when you know you’re truly blessed. This time, a moment like this was brought to me by a deer herd.
It was quite late by the time I arrived at the Cahokia grounds near St. Louis during my Illinois road trip earlier this year.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but there were probably 5 other cars in the parking lot so I knew it’d be quiet. The place itself has an exhibition inside and the old ruins outside.
There was a pensioner group for the exhibition but they were just about to finish when I arrived so we hardly even crossed paths. Their astonishment however mirrored mine:
“So many years and I didn’t know there was such a rich Indian culture up here” said one of them.
“This place should be more famous” said the other.
“I’m happy we came” said the third.
I agreed. The exhibition was great, interactive, informative, and really helped imagine what life was like there around the 13th century.
The best thing is though that there is a huge park around the building displaying the ruins (mounds) that featured the ancient city. There are many walks around it that one can take if one has time before the sunset.
I, however, only had time for a short walk in the dusk, and was just about to turn back when I noticed a display of how the fence would’ve looked like nearby. Curious to examine I went closer, and as I turned to look around, I noticed the shape of some animals in the distance. They didn’t move and I thought, how quite strange that they display stuffed animals or something but maybe this is part of bringing the era alive. Then suddenly one of them turned its head at me.
I was not expecting movement.
They didn’t expect yelps I reckon so now there we stood, carefully examining each other, trying to decide what to expect. They were a lot calmer than me. While they were used to seeing people, I was not used to seeing deer. I carefully approached them, afraid that I will spook them and more and more deer became visible among the trees.
Their short hair glowed golden in the setting sun, their big eyes watching me with reservation as I slowly walked towards them. Some were jumpier than others but overall they were a lot less wary than they would have been in the wild.
Then I noticed, I was surrounded by deer on all sides: I found myself in the middle of their herd. They were slowly moving from one meadow to another, and I happened to be in their way.
They moved so elegantly like a ballet dancer – one eye on the intruder (me), the other on their family so they could keep more or less together.
I stood there, appreciating this unique moment, filled with utter gratitude that circumstances led me here.
In that moment I was consciously part of the universe. The spring air, the plants growing under my feet, these magical animals, all showing me that not everything is about us, humans. The golden light of dusk pulled me into this state of being complete, where I connected to everything, and everything was connected through me.
I was where I had to be: the place & time where I could be the best version of me by simply existing. I didn’t have to change anything, didn’t have to become better, I was alredy perfect. I had purpose, I had magic, I was part of this secret that suddenly opened up to me and enveloped me in its gentle embrace, whispering, you’re needed, Andi, you’re one of us, like the deer, the trees, the sun, we’re all one and together.
I stayed there until the sky turned dark blue, smiling at the deer, at the birds, at the odd stranger walking by – I stayed until my heart almost burst with happiness. A part of me is still there, in that moment, reminding the rest of me that it wasn’t an exception: it’s the way of life, the state of being if I let it, if I let go of all the should’s and would’s and if’s.
I am that perfect moment and so are you.
Let’s remember together.