Breathe in, breathe out. Right foot forward, left foot forward. Steady pace.

It was a breezy, cloudless day. My eyes gently gazed into the horizon, which seemed to cast a bluish tint across the landscape. The trees beneath were beginning to look like a deep green carpet flung over the rolling hills of Chaîne des Puys. Everything looked still. Occasionally, a faraway bird would make like a speck of dirt against the blue sky. Aside from the rustling leaves and crunching rocks beneath our feet, there was no other sound.

We rounded a bend and lost sight of the volcanoes. The sun gave us a warm, comforting embrace in the brisk spring air. As the path steepened, we delved deeper into our reveries, as if the physical exertion had relaxed our mental restraint against random thoughts. It occurred to me to ask what he was thinking, but I was carried away by my own thoughts, too copious to manifest themselves in any particular shape or form. Suddenly, my arm shot out and my hand grasped empty air.

“I was just trying to catch a thought,” I smiled sheepishly at Henri.

He stared at me with preoccupied eyes, barely startled out of his own reverie. I shrugged and continued walking. My thought had disappeared into the dark confines of my skull. Shrugging again, I closed my eyes and retreated into my head, resetting my concentration.

Deep breath in, deep breath out. Right step forward, left step forward.

We fell silent, easing our breaths into the tranquil rhythm around us, content finally to be at one with ourselves.


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