Nearer Than I Have Ever Been

San Antonio Mountain in snow

San Antonio Mountain, 10,908 ft of free-standing volcanic peak 42.5 miles away.

This is your secret message. Read it, wad it up, chew it well, and swallow. No need to tell you to forget you ever saw this, because you will. Maybe down the road, something will trigger an association. A synapse or two will fire, and you will find a thing you never had before.

My wife and I are healthy. We’ve done hardly any of the things that one’s “supposed” to do to prepare for our old age. We are old, in chronological years. It doesn’t seem to make a difference. We want the same things most people do. We hunger and thirst and thrill at a warm touch. The most important thing is how you feel.

I’ve always been the great disruptor, depressed and driven almost every day. Like my parents, I can wreck all loving expectations. I hate this, I hate that. There must be something wrong with me. What am I supposed to do?

In a word, nothing. You heard me.

This morning I walked outside to feed the birds. I hadn’t yet had any coffee or breakfast or even built a fire. The ground was damp and muddy, a raw wet wind was blowing, the sun was blocked by dark gray clouds. I focused on my breath and thought of nothing as I scooped the birdseed mix from a red enameled bucket. (The lad, surprised, was happy.) A sense of calm well-being radiated from the rotten boards, the half-dead elm, the old tarp flapping in the breeze, a faraway barking dog.

It comes from here, right now.

Some tinkering is involved. I woke up from a nap this afternoon and and felt a wave of awfulness and guilt. The ancient stuff, unreal, that comes from certain ugly thoughts that whirl and scatter in the light. Only thoughts, like hey, I wonder if he’s dead yet, maybe I should pee, or is it Saturday? Except these are likely ones connected to progenitors and friends, the preachers and the priests, gods of culture, history, unconscious pain and gore, people pushed from cliffs and babies drowned at sea. They ricochet like pinballs in a cave, ding-ding-ding, you’re dead. At least that’s how it is with me, or was. (I am the work of pros.)

Today I saw the cockroach and replaced it with a swan. Now the words come easily, with fire, and the fear is burned away.

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John Hamilton Farr lives at 7,000 feet in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore tells it, John is “a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” This JHFARR.COM site is the master writing archive. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page. For a complete list of all John’s writing, photography, NFTs, and social media links, please visit JHFARR.ART  

  • theo February 24, 2020, 1:32 PM


    • JHF February 24, 2020, 1:36 PM

      Why hello, Theo! Saving framing your fantastic painting (thank you once again) until we’re ensconced in our new home. It just hasn’t showed up yet but now I know it will.

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