Now this was quite a treat. There I was at over nine thousand feet in the freaking wilderness, somewhere between Tres Piedras and the Brazos Cliffs, walking toward a marsh. Well, a creek, but spread out wide and marshy. An actual wetland shimmering in the sun. No birds or elk, though, surprising only if we hadn’t made a racket falling down the hill to get here. My friend saw tiny fish—I didn’t, but marveled at the water striders. (Always did like water bugs.) A stream like this is something of a primal magnet for me. The water was alive and clear.
When I was a lad and even younger, wherever there was water, I ran straight down to it. If there were bugs or fish or tadpoles, I’d go nuts; just give me a pail or jar and get out of the way. I don’t know what it is, exactly, why it pulls me so, but clear, fresh water with living animals and plants, a pond or stream with these rare qualities today, can put me in a trance. So what am I doing living in the desert? Someday this question will be answered. Anyway, sagebrush ocean be damned: we drove and climbed and bounced and found some water, and it was good.
Later I decided that the most important thing for the rest of my life was living in joy with the one I love. An image came to me, a daytime dreaming, of the two of us in a cabin by a lake, no other people around, just us and trees and peace and water and green growing things. I held this in my thoughts and all my rancor disappeared. I was light and happy, living my own truth in my imagination, and the truth became the way it was, and there was tenderness again and no one worried.