So I walked up the mesa again today. It was ferociously windy, maybe 55 degrees, with a bright sun under mostly cloudless skies. Wearing only shorts and T-shirt, I wasn’t cold. What clouds there were blew over the mountains long and straight, cloud-taffy pulled out by the western wind.
As I walked, I thought about another hike a few years back. At the time, I was worried I was dying and had just had an encounter with a spectral darkness on the trail. The upshot was that I made a bargain with the Creator, that if I could stay healthy until I was 90, I’d gladly shed my mortal coil then. (Short-sighted, wasn’t it!) Well, today I had another little talk and put in a pitch for more time: if living past 90 would make someone happy, then please extend my stay, is how I put it. I guess we’ll see. Pretty nifty social engineering on my ass, though.
The thing is, I’ve had so much more energy lately. It’s like I’m just waking up and don’t want the party to end before I’ve had my fun. So many incredible things have happened to me over the years, and yet I know I mostly missed them. That’s how it always is. But if I could go back in time with the emotional muscle I have now, I’d pick the first 10 years of my life on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, say ’75-’85. (There are so many times, but this will do.) To think that I arrived before the final ruination of development, when country life was still a WAY of life and living on the water wasn’t just for swells, but didn’t recognize it for the awesome gift it was instead of just another whistle-stop… If I could go back and pay attention, soak it up, smell and taste it all again, I’ll bet the days would get real slow, and if I paid enough attention, I could kill time dead. My wife would be there too, again, the way she is now only happier, because I wouldn’t be crazy, stirring up the mud. If only. That’s not the way this rolls, though, is it?
I keep on walking up the mesa. You need your wits about you here these days, because since the land grant cut that road across the hills to open up property for sale, there’s always people sitting in a pickup somewhere, looking funny. (And then there was the time we almost interrupted someone else’s coitus, only both were guys.) I take my time now, coming to the open areas along the trail, stepping in the quiet dirt instead of crunching on the rocks. Before I walk out into the open, I pause for several easy breaths and listen, maybe have a drink of water. I like this way of moving, and it takes me out of my head.
On the way back down, I catch myself writing something like this story in my mind, but there’s a lot more going on, unwholesome fulminating bullshit underneath the surface. This isn’t right, not right at all. I stop and breathe. Another sip of water. The sun is warm on my black shirt.
Moving on, no words.
The trick is staying a millisecond ahead of the black tsunami.
Just be here like a tuning fork, vibrating in the Now.
Putting in more time after 90? Wow, that’s ambitious. I’m the same age as you, brother, but, lacking specific ailments, I nevertheless feel time’s winged chariot hurrying me to oblivion. But why fret about any of this? You and I have passed the hurdles of youth and have borne the burdens of middle age. We can’t be anything other than what we are, yet we have some degree of future left, and we might as well make the most of it. Amen to that, brother.
I feel like I just got to the banquet late and they stop serving in 20 minutes. Plus, I’m starving.