After a long day of cycling on the Alaska Highway in the wilderness of Yukon, Canada, all I had on my mind was a place to camp and some drinking water. So when I spotted an abandoned gas station with the yellow sign “Nor Gas,” I pulled over right away.
Then, I stood by the road and waved at a passing camper van. It stopped, but I felt as if I didn’t know how to talk. I showed the campers my empty bottle and mustered all the energy I had to pronounce, “water, water?”
After getting water, I went behind the deserted structures to find myself in a forest where I set up the tent on the ground covered with dry pine needles.
A deathly silence overhung between trees—no stirring of breeze, no rustling of leaves, and no songs of birds.
I realized that, not for the first time on the trip, I hadn’t had a conversation for a few days. My tongue was losing muscle memory, and something as simple as speech had become effortful.
I lit up the gas stove to heat red beans. As the burner hissed, I heard something apart from my breath and a buzzing mosquito.
For a moment, I left the forest and stepped into a world where I could talk, converse, and sing.
This video of me singing shouldn’t go online, with my sincerest apologies to Sajjad Ali. But, it reminisces me of that forest evening.
Perhaps I was overcome with nostalgia and aloneness and missed a human connection. Or, maybe, I just longed to hear a human voice, even if it was my own.
The next day, I headed to Teslin Lake and pulled brakes at the rest stop, where I spotted a red car packed with camping luggage. The car owner sat at the wooden bench facing the lake, absorbed in thoughts.
“You seem to be on a long journey!” she said after noticing my bicycle.
I nodded with a smile.
“Where are you headed?”
And so began our conversation. The sun looked upon us, and the gentle breeze created ripples on water. Two bridges appeared at that moment— one across the Teslin Lake, and the other, between two strangers who had been out alone for a bit too long. Now both stood in the middle of the bridge, where the current of cosmic reciprocity was the strongest. No longer did they have to move. Instead, the universe moved for them!