The sky is silver and warm. There is a patch of bare aspen at the bottom of the valley. The dying limbs sing their song with the wind that can be heard even up here. I hear a machine, a bird, and a clock. The clouds bloom astronomical and cosmic. Through them the inevitable airliner passes. It’s undoubtedly full of commuters from San Francisco to Salt Lake.
What kind of commuters? This I have no need to decide. They are out of my world, way up there, sitting busy in their isolated, arbitrary lounge that doesn’t even seem to be on the move—the lounge that somehow picked them up off the earth in California to suspend them for awhile with instant coffee and timeless cocktails just to bring them back down to earth in sunny Utah. It’s mere and marvelous, the suspension of contemporary life in contemplation that delivers you somewhere.
There are other worlds high above me. Other planes pass over, with more contemplation and complex modalities of concentration.
I see the armed plane, the warship of the sky with the bomb in it. It flies lower than the rest. I look up from the wild, in the direction of the closed bay. It’s but a pewter-steeled crow pregnant with eggs of destruction below its breast. A womb easily and instinctively opened by lack of patience! I do not consider this technological beast to be related to anything I believe in. Much like everyone else, I live in the shadows of these apocalyptic cherubs.
It is more or less likely that we are being surveyed by it, on an impersonal level. Its number distinguishes my number. Are our numbers preparing at some point to correspond in the benign mind of a supercomputer? Should this concern me, though I live in the solitude of my own soul, out here in the wild, as a reminder that I am free enough to not be given a number?
In an age where there is so much conversation about “being yourself” I reserve to myself the right to forget about being myself, since in any case there is a very vague chance of my being anyone else. Rather it begins to seem to me that when I am too intent on “being myself” I run the risk of impersonating my own shadow.
Still I cannot pride myself on the freedom of being me, simply because I am living in my own wild. Should I come to be accused of living in the wild like John Muir, instead of living in the desert like John The Baptist, all I would be able to answer is that I choose not to live “like anyone.” Or “unlike anyone.” We all love somehow or the other and that is that. It has become a compelled necessity for me to be free to embrace the necessity of the soul of my wild, or in other words, my very own nature.
I exist under the canopy of a forest wild. I walk through the woods of myself out of necessity. I am both prisoner and escapee of my own prison. I cannot necessarily tell you why, born in Mississippi, my journey has led me to the foothills just east of Lake Tahoe in western Nevada, the perfected beautiful fusion of both desert and wilderness. I have considered going further, but it is not certainly practical. It makes no difference.
Do I have a “day?” Do I spend said “day” in a “place?” I know these trees here. I know the birds here. I know the birds in fact very well; there are precise pairs of a dozen different species chirping in the immediate surroundings of my own expanse. I share this expanse with them, forming this landscape of ecological balance. The harmony alone from this gives inspiration to the idea of “home” as a new pattern.
As to the crows, they form part of a different pattern. They are strident and self-justifying, like man. They are not two, they are many, and they are brash with vulgarity. They fight amongst each other and the other birds in a constant state of war.
There is a mental ecological expanse, too, a living balance of spirits in this corner of my wild. There is room here for so many more songs besides those of the birds. Of compassion, for instance, or hope, energy, maybe essence, or a newfound delight, or it may just be the dry confusing voice of myself, a half-assed poet with windy promise.
There is also love, whose climate is perhaps most suited for the climate in this corner of my woods, hot and humid, damn near smothering at times. It is a climate though that doesn’t warrant a need for explanation.
It is a good thing to find these feelings deep in these woods, to hear these songs in my own wild, but they also choose themselves to be here in the present in my silence. In any case, there is no lack of feelings.
Solitude is cool. It is a self-sufficient feeling of low definition in which there is little to decide, in which transactions are few and far between, if not non-existent. There are no packages to be delivered, nor do I bundle up packages and deliver them to myself. There is no intensity. There is no give and take of questions and answers, problems and solution. Only prayer. Problems begin down the hill. Over there under the waterfall at the fork in the path you will find the solutions.
Here there are woods, and wolves. Here there is no need for rose-colored glasses. “Here” does not look to warm itself up with references to “there.” It is just a “here” for which there is no “there.” Solitude is cool, calm, and collected.
Community as a whole is a fiery core. Fiery with words like “must,” “ought,” and “should.” Community is devoted to high definition projects—“making it all so clear!” The clearer it gets the more clarity must be had. It branches out. You have to keep clearing out the branches. The more branches you clear out the more branches grow. For each one you cut, back grow four or five more. On the end of each branch is a big bright-eyed and bushytailed question mark.
People are running all around with branches of meaning everywhere. Each to their own is very concerned and anxious to know whether all of the others have received the latest message. Has someone else received a message that he has not received? Will they be able to pass it on to him? Will he understand it when passed on? Will it be necessary to argue about it? Will he be expected to clear his throat and stand up and say, “Well the way I look at it is my…. way?”
The best thing to do with solitude is to play it cool, but today something is heating mine up. They keep thinking that you have a unique message. When they find out you haven’t…Well, that’s up to their interpretation and worry. Not mine. I’ve got my own war to win inside.