I awoke early in the city in that in-between hour, after the night owl’s evening has ended and before the early birds have risen. Strapping a 50 pound backpack to my body, I set off briskly into the morning’s darkness that surrounds the Rice University campus. Although I do this activity, much, much less than I once did in my Special Forces or airborne infantry days, “ruck marching” has always been a favorite activity of mine. It’s uncomfortable, tiring, and sometimes very painful. Yet, it is uplifting.
Walking through the pitch dark is something I have always deeply enjoyed. Darkness is isolating and liberating. The lack of light and visibility creates a sense of safety, as if I have been swept away into another, less hostile world. This sense is amplified when I am in the wilderness, truly separated from the routine hustle. Yet the same feeling of peaceful isolation can be found on neighborhood sidewalks or local parks. I found it this morning under the arching and foreboding oaks on campus. Walking through the early morning mist is perfect for reflection, allowing me hours to profoundly consider my thoughts and their deeper meanings.