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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Desert Solitaire

I'm sitting in a "Made Elsewhere" wedge inducing Walmart camp-chair... feet up on a twisted Cedar footstool and gazing across a sea of Utah slickrock.  A frothy topped La Salle Mountain wave lays frozen mid-roll on a crystal clear horizon... just over the toes of my dusty blue suede Crocks. The cold IPA in the armrest's cup-holder sweats for attention as I make a field lab study of "The Now." 

"Time," it reoccurs to me, is all we have... one precious second to the next. How fleeting and easily unappreciated it is unless I am enraptured by some-thing, place or one. Right now it is a "place" that stirs my insides... a noiseless, cedar scented, unoccupied-except-for-Bobbie-and-me playground. 

It's easy to forget how big the world is living in a vertical view Crevice; I've grown accustomed to relating to that environment in terms of how high instead of how far. Far here at our Utah boondock is curve-of-the-earth; it smacks me upside the head like the parental hand of God, reminding me to stop, look and listen... to find "balance" in opposites... to smell "roses" of a different sort... and appreciate time's screeching halt. 

I've squandered a sharecroppers portion of Time in my day and wished for a do-over or two. But to my surprise and/or credit, I'm generally at peace with how I've spent, and now choose to spend the most precious commodity on earth, which is to abide its Natural Wonders. 

Society has so ingrained Time into human psyches that we panic when we lose track of it. Our calendars are graffitied with time sensitive appointments and schedules a year out. I think it is normal and healthy to act as if we are going to live to see tomorrows because we probably will. But when someone we know doesn't make tomorrow it reminds us that our earthly allotment is an unknown... a "wild card." Death has a way of reminding us to reshuffle priorities, values and appreciations.

If how we make use of Time becomes a priority... if we spend it like it was our last dollar bill... then when the last sand grain finally slips through the hourglass and we lose everything in a heartbeat... family, religion, pets, possessions, life as we know it... there are no regrets nor deeds left undone. The balance sheet is in order, as they say.

Taking a long pull on my long-necked Longhammer I wonder,  am I wasting precious Time boondock camped out in the middle of nowhere... sitting in my Walmart chair, living simply in a natural world? Couldn't I be doing something more important than this? I have aimed relatively low; I only want to share the loves of  my life... a little ho hum art, some so so photos, a few lackluster words and a smattering of short films of places I think notable and of interest. Is this portal view of backcountry roads and trails that I so love to wander and share worth something... will it get me past Heaven's Pearly Gates? Couldn't I be saving whales or homeless street people instead? 

Another long pull begets another "chicken or egg" question. Do we get to pick our calling, or does it pick us? I'm no literary match, but isn't exultation of the Natural World what lifted Thoreau, Muir and Abbey to inspirational lofts... just sharing what they loved with anyone who would listen? I could give a shit about a lofty place in history; I just want to do what I feel called to do with my one shot life.

I wonder who paid Thoreau to sit out in the woods and ponder? Did his parents nag him to go get a real job? What about Abbey's personal "monkey wrench," an anarchist, working for Govie... right here in Arches National Park. Did he sell out for a paycheck? Was Abbey a hypocrite? 

I would like to think I am more of a "drop out" than "sell out." And I would like to believe the BCB makes a momentary contribution to at least a few people's day. Saving whales and homeless people just isn't in my bag.  I relieve that guilt once in a while via donation. 


  1. Edward Abbey, if he were sitting with you and Bobbie around your campfire tonight, would tell you not to start doubting yourself. Your track record speaks for itself. All your buddies and family would tell you the same. Stay the course and be yourself. It has served you well so far.

    End of preaching.

  2. "Stay the course... be yourself." Good advice, friend... good advice.

  3. Just re-found you after you moved your blog, couldn't figure out why you hadn't posted...duh! This is a theme I've pondered a lot myself lately as I find myself slipping in to middle-age and trying to figure out what I'm to do with the rest of my days, not to mention what I did with the days that have passed. Sometimes I find myself regretting career paths I did not take but always remind myself that we only have one life to live and can't do everything. Looking back I'm happy I made raising my family my priority instead of becoming a brain surgeon, a veterinarian or some other lofty goal that sounds good but might not have been as fulfilling spiritually. Maybe no matter who we are and what we choose we're destined to have a little doubt now and then.


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