Just about now, in a "normal" year, I'd be rumbling up our driveway in Lovely Ouray...all worn out and physically fit from over a month's worth of hiking/biking/exploring Eastern Utah's notorious nooks. But this is not a "normal" year (oh how we took them for granted), so that Rv season-ending indulgence got blown out of the waterless red rock desert by the "new normal," for at least for a year or two anyway, maybe more. Revelations is upon us. Go ahead, stamp 666 on my forehead. But please make this C-shit go away.
We had only managed a bike ride and a couple days of red desert boondock bliss when Bobbie abandoned me in favor of hearth and home. Still, I was brimming with Great exploratory Expectations when we kissed goodbye. Bobbie had similar Great Expectations...of not living in a box-on-wheels, even if it was bigger and more comfortable than Goldie. Weather be damned; she itched for those familiar mountains that cradle Lovely Ouray.
A mere eight hours later, I was informed via internet of a new Grand County Mandate: Excepting residents and essential workers, all tourists and visitors must evacuate Moab and all surrounding public lands. We had 24 hours to comply before doors and windows of non-essential businesses were to be shuttered. I spent one long night in "Disneyland," tossing and turning, wondering if someone would come knocking and kick me out. Then, oh-so-reluctantly, I broke camp the next morning and headed home.
I was greeted in Ridgway by dark clouds, cold temps, and spitting snow. "Welcome back to winter, Mark."
That's when it dawned that I would be enduring my first mountain-town winter/spring mud-season since, well...since I could remember. Ugh.
Unlike Bobbie, I'm a warm-blooded Arid-zona raised fair weather kind of outdoor guy (Ok, wuss). And there I was, unloading Annie in a snowstorm, faced with two months of spring at 8,000 feet, at the base ginormous mountains famous for fabricating foul winter weather well into June. I swear, it's the only place where you can start out mowing your lawn in a t-shirt and shorts, and finishing up in a blizzard wearing coveralls. Deep breath...Patience, Mark.
I learned something about patience a long time ago during one of several wanderlust inspired mid-life crises. They were tough but instructional...necessary, even...the kind that spawn from long, hellish 12 hour solitary nightshifts when glass-half-empty minds and dark winter nights conger up disappointment and disillusions of work treadmills instead of Happily-Ever-Afters. Wanderlust is a two edge sword, one that should come with a Governmental Warning: "Caution, Studies have demonstrated that Wanderlust causes mental illness and melancholia in Laboratory Rats." Indeed, I often felt like an insignificant lab rat...one of seven billion...scurrying around on planet earth in search of food, shelter and someone to love. For years, Life amounted to little more than a competitive maze whose sole purpose was to entertain vindictive gods.
Last night I had a dream...a nightmare, actually. In it I was still a working stiff, standing somewhere near the middle of a long, depressing line to retirement. It stretched impossibly out of sight, could see neither beginning nor end enough to know where the hell I was. Maybe, if I live long enough, I dreamed, I might just realize all those unfulfilled dreams I've collected over the decades...endless travels with a soulmate outdoor woman who likes to hike and bike and explore. Is this line even moving, I ask to no one in particular. I hoped I was dreaming anyway.
Aw Hope. It's like a life-raft on a sinking boat. I find it enlightening that, even in nightmares, I clung to "hope." Hope is an amazing and powerful emotion. It's like turning on a floodlight that vanishes darkness...especially during times like these. Without hope (faith might be a better word) we are sorely tempted to give up...on everything. It's a free fall ticket to the bottom, maybe one way, maybe round trip if you are lucky. But you don't feel "lucky," otherwise you wouldn't be in this sinking boat. For what it's worth, I found that, if we can just believe there is a sliver of hope, it can be enough to keep us moving, putting one foot in front of the other and baby-stepping our way up and out of dark times. It takes patience, something we are not born with. Patience must be learned...earned, if you will. Without it, we will give up...wasting money we don't have on lotto tickets. Waiting on a miracle, which is unlikely, at best.
Understandably, hope's life-raft doesn't seem big enough to hold everyone that's under water right now. It's as if we're aboard the Titanic, and we just hit a iceberg called Pandemic. Every righteous heart bleeds at the pain, suffering and seeming dim prospects for a quick recovery. All I can say is, KICK. Kick like you've never kicked before.
Though we are not as reliant on jobs and income in this the third and final act of our lives, it is nevertheless soul crushing to see the suffering around our little town, where the "service industry" is practically all we have. Lately I've had to fall back on the same ole slivers of hope that helped get me through bouts with male mano-pause(s). Let's face it, the "news" is toxic right now, like (ahem) injecting clorox, if you will. It's enough to kill us.
It doesn't help that, in our time of greatest need, Leadership is goes lacking, if not AWOL. It hardly inspires hope when POTUS goes off script, can't seem to form a complete sentence, and blunders his way through press conferences like a bull in a china shop, all the while making wild suggestions and statements that spits in the face or logic, reasoned science, not to mention all the Pandemic specialists standing in the background, trying to figure out how they are going to undo all the "science fiction" that just got propagated to a world on the edge of their seats and at the bitter end of patience. If it wasn't so freaking serious, one could die laughing.
So it falls to an assembly of 50 widely divergent Governors to pick clean up the mess due to the current vacuum of reasoned policy and leadership. New York's Governor Cuomo must now spend up to half of his press conferences fending off lies and attacks by Trump, and he does it so well by calling out lunacy where it exists. In my book, Cuomo far better Presidential material than long-shot Biden...who, seemingly, is hiding out in his basement as of late.
Yes. If Positive Affirmations can get me through tough times, maybe they can for you. I shall do my best to flip every negative thought into something positive, counter, "yeah-buts" like "What if we can't" with "We can at least try." In times like these, attitude counts. Hope, is an attitude. For now, it may be all we have...but maybe, just maybe, if we cling to it as if it's our only life raft, it might just light a way through the darkness.
Escaping mud season and Old Man Winter overstaying his welcome has been officially relegated to the bottom of my priority list. I guess I still have some growing up to do. Old Dog, New Tricks, as they say.
In closing this rant, I'm reminded of a song by the Byrds. It was inspired during the tumultuous 60's, a time when our nation was as much divided as now over a war that wouldn't wind down, one that, literally, bled on and on and on...claiming our youngest, bravest, and finest.
I left chorus repeats out in order to focus on poignant verses that rise up and resonate again today, as a stinking virus stops the whole wide world from turning...
Turn, Turn, Turn...Pete Seeger, The Byrds
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven...
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late
This post was thrown together in haste. I apologize if it does not live up to expectations...just needed to get a few things off my chest. It's fine if you disagree. These are my opinions...worth about what you pay for them.
Now try to go out for a walk or hike every chance you get. Exercise is long-known to slay the vilest of demons.
Photos from previous springs spent in Utah's red rock deserts and an upcoming summer up high...
|Here's looking forward to spending this summer in Colorado's high country|