Stars unfurl above my head in a great twinkling carpet, and if I focus in just the right way as I look up, the sky shifts from a dark sheet stretched tight to a blackness that pushes past the boundaries of 'when' and plunges deeply into forever.

A chill curls around my bones like wet smoke, seeping into the cracks between my cells and contracting my essence together into one frozen, shrinking core buried in the very center of what I call self. My stiff fingers crack as muscle and tendon drawn too tight against the night air flex and stretch, then curl around the wood grip of my cane.

My entire body complains inwardly as I start to move, watching my breath form small clouds ahead of me, and I begin the slow limp back inside for tea and warmth. But for a few beautiful, shivering minutes, I remember a thousand worlds I've seen and a million more I've not, but that I still remember nonetheless: every single one whispers to me with the peace of the infinite. I listen to them in my heart, and I am content.