Written from Carlsbad Caverns, NM.
Imagine you lived in a massively deep, enormously dark cave—a cavern, if you will. This cavern is your home and it is cool and dark and damp, just the way you like it. The bats are your friends and you idle away the hours playing with incandescent crickets and centipedes. When the terrible lightning storms fury above ground you are safely sheltered in your cavern, listening to the music of water droplets falling into the still pools around you. The water calcifies into beautiful formations—from giant columns and towers down to delicate rock draperies and tiny straws—and it is as if you have an entire underground kingdom of your own. As you lie gazing up at the forest of stalactites, you imagine that gravity is reversed, and you are instead hovering over an immense hilltop of crystalline trees and mountains, looking down on a world in miniature. Your cavern has sparkling grottoes and tranquil ponds and everything is…peaceful.
One day you get it into your head to see where it is that the bats go each night. You stagger towards the surface, bumping your head on the overhanging rocks and slipping in forty foot piles of guano. You finally reach the mouth of the cave, and the blazing sun blinds and burns you. There are hordes of swallows flying about you, shrieking as they circle around your head. As you stoop to investigate a nearby flower, sharp thorns pierce you; all the plants, in fact, have spines or thorns or razors. From atop a hill, you can see hundreds of miles of Chihuahuan desert, acres upon acres of juniper shrubs and prickly pear and buzzards and rock (but not the lovely weeping rock of the cavern). Mighty gusts of wind spray sand in your face. The surface is neither cool nor dark nor damp—precisely the opposite, in fact.
And so you return to your peaceful cavern home.