It’s about a 2 mile walk from downtown Berkeley to my campsite up in the hills. All uphill. Until I finally get to this manhole cover. Which is the exact point where the landscape finally levels out. So it’s always a joyous moment when I reach the manhole cover. That feeling of: “I’ve MADE it!!” Top of the mountain!
I’ve walked that route thousands of times over the years. But I never tire of that moment. I’ll usually jump on top of the manhole cover. Do a little jig. Shout out my mantra. “Om namah Shivaya!!”
If it’s late at night and I’m drunk I’ll probably have a manic grin on my face. Giggling to myself at the whole improbable goof of being alive in this world. From this vantage point high about Berkeley you get a full view of the sky above. And a panoramic view of the Bay below, and the glittering skyline of San Francisco off in the distance. The Golden City. And I’ll feel like I’m on top of the world. Literally.
This life can be so difficult. I guess that’s why I make a point of trying to savor life’s little triumphs.
Ace Backwords is a former cartoonist, writer and semi-normal human being. He's been sleeping in the bushes in the Berkeley hills for the last ten years with his four feral cats, Moo Cat, Fatty, Mini Scaredy and Micro Scaredy. Future plans include growing old and dying. Preferably in that order.
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