Ernestine Ulmer is credited with: “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” Which is about as relevant to most of us as some guy in a robe pacing a street corner with a sign saying “the end is near”. Both he and Ernestine will be right, but only once.
Everyone’s journey, everyone’s story, ends.
We know how it ends.
We are all on the same journey.
This is my trip-journal, diary, self-eulogy, memory, dream, theory and scheme – like an ice-cream sundae smothered with juicy fruit. With a sprinkling of nuts.
Begin story telling, they say, with the end in mind. This one begins . . .
Distance can be emotional, or philosophical.
Or geographical – vertical or horizontal, on land or sea, in the air or out in space.
Or in that space between our ears, between our years or between each other.
Gives a whole new meaning to going the distance, does it not?
If there is a destination somewhere we want to go then we can never get there if we stay where we are – there must be a launching, departure or at least some plan to have a departure or at least a plan to have a plan.
Otherwise, what is the importance of this trip?
Easy concept to grasp, geography and travel so easily explain it.
But when our journey is from one point of view to another, when our trip is from being close to not being close to someone – or the reverse, this travel weariness becomes visceral without even the need to get out of this chair.
These trips of mine are not ones of conquest or acquisition. Journeys of my mind docking here, then docking over there – eventually finding a shore to my ocean, gentle place to land and tie myself to a dock – because I become attached to a point of view.
And, the more I think about it, I’m less certain about being the boat and feeling more strongly that I am that dock anchored so tenuously to the land yet being tugged at by every receding wave pulling me away from safety and convention – not to sail away but to float more freely, unattached to an immovable position.
Have you read this play, do you know your lines?
Have you been rehearsing?
When our director hollers “action”, do you know what to do? Can you hit your marks, deliver your lines with panache, with flair, with power to spare?
Do you know your role, your motivation, and purpose in the plot?
Telling anyone what I want is difficult because I struggle to find my best reply.
I want everything. And I want nothing. I want every experience and I don’t need any thing – or device either real or rhetorical – aside from what I have which is already well beyond what any human really needs to survive and thrive in life.
Essentials are air and water, both abundant and free. Food for thought and stock to make good soups – that’s all I needed, ever. I have so much more.
I have what I need to feel it – I have brain and body, arms and legs, fingers and toes – all that I need and everyone knows. That’s how it goes.
I chat frequently with my friend Gary. I realize I have hitched a ride on his experience. I get to see his trip, like watching a movie trailer, without actually taking that journey myself. He has become teacher and mirror, showing so clearly what is important, and what is not. He takes such great pleasure in so few things while they still work for him.
And yet I am taking that journey too.
So are you.
We don’t know if we’ll live through this or any other day.
Most of us likely will make it.
We do so taking the risk, knowing there is no guarantee of anything, we let go of what we hold onto so tight, and we end up exactly where we need to be.
Try it, you’ll see, you can do it – just sit there, you in your chair and I in mine – our beach chairs will get closer and closer until two seats sit there, side by each, they will watch out to sea as witnesses – empty you see, but I’ll know that you were there, because you were there with me.
There comes a time in any man’s life when looking forward no longer requires binoculars or his book of beliefs, because when the end is near for anyone dear, you can hear it coming, you may not feel it until long after it hits, but you can see it from here.
On this trip I am alone but not lonely. I have witnesses to this life. Not watching over me or watching out for me but watching it all along with me – unaware of each other, viewing from their compartments, mostly sane caring ones, with a sprinkling of nuts. When my time comes I will have witnesses to my demise. No rush. Don’t be booking tickets or buying veils just yet . . .
column written/ published from Calgary
morning walk: -6C / 21F, mostly clear, light breeze – yesterday’s snowmelt has made every route we walk more treacherous than yesterday but we survived un-bruised and un-broken to tempt disaster again tomorrow. Gusta proved again that her nose works far better than her eyes/brain as she strained to get through a chain-link fence in pursuit of a spent banana peel – nothing left of it to eat but she pursued it because it still smelled good and she believed there was . . .
Lots of wisdom today. Just start fixing.... that's what I needed to hear today. We haven't met (really). We've chatted on the phone and in emails. We met in an online dating attempt that foundered. I've been receiving emails of your writing since then. I was moved to comment today - one of those synchronous 'universe responds with message to felt need/question.", Thanks, AS, Calgary, AB
I am fascinated by your writing, your style and the topics you touch up upon. At the same time however, I am intimidated a bit by you skill... the English is my second language, acquired not so long ago . It was always my dream to speak so fluently and with such colors and emotions. I am simply curious about such a gifted person...Is your personality reflecting your writing, or maybe the other way around? B, Calgary, AB