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Saturday, October 20, 2018

On Rage

"Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself...as if they are showing you the way. Donald Miller

It never fails. Every October, as soon as I bail Goldie out of her chainlink storage prison, the weather turns to shit. 

Ah, another glorious summer in Lovely Ouray has sifted through the hourglass of our time on earth. The breeze has noticeably stiffened after flipping a 180. It meanders down from cooler climes in the arctic Northwest...cold enough that I should slip on some long pants. But I don't.

We set to work loading Goldie. Leaves spiral down from bone white aspen; evergreens sway. Bobbie and I stumble load after load down a flight of stairs, out the front door and across a driveway filled with spent leaves. It's been raining so there is mud, which tracks both the house and Goldie.

A digitalized farewell to Ms Autumn's Golden Grass and Aspen

Every year about this time, I begin to question if "leaving" is worth the trouble involved; Maybe it's time to skip a year, stay home, lay down some tracks in high country snow.

Then I remember just how l-o-n-g Lovely Ouray's winter's feel to me...how six months of cold and snow and grey skied gloom—shoveling, plowing, nursing a sopping wet nose that runs like Niagra's Falls—well, it doesn't agree with my Arid-zona tainted Genome.

So another load goes down. Canned goods are heavy. Bottom line: If a week of loading Goldie in crappy weather...wearing flip-flops and shorts, of course...is the price for open-road, freedom, and wearing fewer clothes, then so be it. I must renew my passion to press on to places where the said weather suits said clothes in said places where I can get the Hell outdoors in comfort (almost) every single day.

But fear and worry have a way of slipping through the smallest of cracks in ones insistence and resistance. What will I do when "that" day finally arrives when (gulp) I can't run away from winter? Lord Gawd. Live in the present, Mark. Live in the present.

The older I get the more stubborn I become, and the more I hear Donald Miller whispering in my half-deaf ear: My poor pathetic, unappreciative son...everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.” Yes! Leaving Lovely Ouray does make my heart grow fonder.

Yeah Donald. As a matter of fact I can think of 5 reasons to come back home: May, June, July, August and September!

Donald is not the only voice I hear when it comes to Leaving: “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

And finally Dylan Thomas, who admonishes: "Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Utah's Waterpocket folds and endless canyons always perk my spirits

Twenty years of experience suggests that, if I can just make it a few miles beyond Green River, Utah, all the hassle and work of Leaving is worth all the bother and sweat. When I see the earth's crust wrinkle its brow into a picked scab that bleeds crimson against white skinned domes, I am "uplifted." Suddenly, mud and snow and all the work of loading and unloading Goldie are worth the effort. Leaving renews my soul and allays fears regarding what lays ahead. Besides, what the Hell else do I have to do...watch Ellen and Dr Phil?
According to Donald—and I believe him because I've experienced this firsthand—“Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.” A "boring life." God, I have nightmares...how, regardless of the miracle of "existence" and/or "being," I fear most wasting my one-shot opportunity at life by leading a boring life! I can see the epitaph now, engraved on a tombstone: "Mark Everett Johnson. He got old and died from leading a boring life." Nooooo!

Donald: "It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out. I want to repeat one word for you: Leave. Roll the word around on your tongue a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be...Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed...Leave.”

Leave. Change...if for no other reason than for the sake of change.

Utah, it never ceases to inspire and reward. “If these mountains had eyes, they would wake to find two strangers in their fences, standing in admiration as a breathing red pours its tinge upon earth's shore. These mountains, which have seen untold sunrises, long to thunder praise but stand reverent, silent." Donald Miller

So we continue, "breathing" Utah every spring and fall. Winters are best spent near Tucson, pricked and scratched by thorny Sonoran Dessert vegetation...legs bleeding red as an Arizona Highways sunset.

Donald: "...life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love...has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath... We get one story, you and I...one story alone."
Yes, we get one story, you and I. "Old age should burn and rage at the end of day."

Peace out, and please pardon the internet hijinks. We are barely able to get a signal out here in the boonies of Utah...
mark and bobbie


  1. YES...here we go again....another winter season in No Calif.....but on my computer we will be exploring them thar red & white boulders of mountains in Utah with blue skies & lovely clouds overhead then later among the prickly pear and saguaro cactus strew landscapes of Arizona with plenty of tall tales and harrowing hikes thru slot canyons and of course there will be new faces to get to know along with nights in Sue Bee shaking under high desert winds, always fearing the worst but thankfully all ends well.....so far.....so God Speed to you Mark & Bobbie and don't forget to post!
    From the Land of Cows, Redwoods & Wine
    Happy Trails

  2. Really like the digitalized pictures. Outdoors in comfort is the key for me too. A little winter, maybe, but a lot of no sunshine makes for UNhappiness and Rage, Rage, Rage about every winter including the winter of life. Love your summer fall winter spring plan.


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