The radio was static. The headlights barely picking out the blurred asphalt. The road through Jasper National Park was long, silent and empty. There was no moon and in the complete shadow that had descended on the nighttime world I had long since lost the ability to see the mountains rising on either side of me, but I could feel them, the density, the weight of them. I could feel the sheer cliff drops on one side or another of the vehicle, empty mouths waiting to swallow me up.
I glanced up into the sky and was sucked in. The stars! I lived in the city and true starlight was something I rarely saw, save for a camping trip here or there. But in this place, humming along at 100 kilometers an hour, the full, unbelievable expanse was revealed.
I almost drove off the road.
My heart started pounding, considering the enormity of the eternal space that opened up above me. I suddenly couldn’t separate earth from sky and I was floating. I was speeding through the cosmos, embraced by an unending blackness, uncountable suns and vast clouds of pale light. My sense of direction was lost, vertigo threatened to overtake me, and still I drove, heedless of physical danger as my whole spirit seemed threatened to become lost in that profound, airless vacuum. I was about to panic when something switched off inside of me. I gave up my fear and allowed myself to let go, to embrace this enormity as it embraced me. My breathing slowed and time lost any meaning.
As I rounded a bend in the road the radio spotted and sputtered to life with the voice of Stan Rogers.
…through a land so wild and savage…
Listening to the plaintive cry of the song, I slowly came back to earth, to the solid land and the road swiftly passing.
I was back from a journey that lasted only moments but returned me seemingly eons later. I pulled over at the next rest stop, crawled into the back seat and slept.