Cave. A place where every little sound echoes multifold. A place where the meaning of darkness really comes to life. A place where water has worked its marvel over a really long period of time… and still does, carving its way, marking its presence, with every passing second. There we were – in a cave.
We followed the park ranger, who was leading the group, carefully turning on the lights of the path ahead and switching off the artificial glow of the trail that has been crossed. He showed us fossils, explained all about the different ecological features – stalagmites, stalactites, columns, etc. – that we saw all around, he walked us through a little bit of the history, as all of us strolled behind him hundreds of feet into the ground.
The partner’s undying fascination the classical element that is water only grew as we paced around observing its breathtaking work. The way it had etched through the hardest of rocks all around was certain to make one wonder about and ponder over many a thing. The patterns on the walls and the ceilings, on every fallen rock, on every step the feet touched – nature’s creativity at its best, that’s what it was.
At one point, the park ranger had us all gather in one place. He requested that we not make any noise. And he turned off the lights. Darkness. Everywhere. On every nook. On every corner. It’s not the kind that envelops the neighborhood at night. It’s not like what you experience when you close your eyes. It’s not the same as what happens when you turn off all the lights in your room. This was different. This was unlike everything else. It was happening in a place where natural light hardly has never reached because it’s located hundreds of feet below the surface. Here, we experienced darkness… darkness of the purest kind. And to go with this was the eerie silence of the confines. It was mind-blowing, to say the least.
I held the partner’s hand. He pulled me close and I leaned in to rest on his shoulder. I could hear his heartbeat. Or was that mine? Or was it of the person standing next to me on the other side? Or perhaps it was of all of us… who knows?!? Just as I was musing over this, I heard the calming noise of droplets of water falling somewhere nearby. It wasn’t a flowing stream; it was merely drops of water, dripping one after another, mind you. But I could hear it, distinctly. And only seconds later, my mind was blank. It was clear of any thoughts. It had succumbed to the blackness of the surrounding. I wasn’t moving, my mind wasn’t racing, and my heart wasn’t beating any faster than necessary. Everything was still. And tranquil.
Had time stopped, the partner whispered later on. And with that, he had put into words what I’d felt and experienced. That darkness. That silence. That peacefulness. That’s definitely how I picture it would be if time were to stop.