Out of the blue sometimes I’ll get 28 text messages from Alex. Its a complicated rhythm, something you wouldn’t dance to…you kinda have to sit down to read it. The message was thick yesterday- concern for the sailor, the disappointment of a child who knows she won’t get married in time for her daddy to walk her down the isle. I think we all felt some of that “holy shit I didn’t get to do that yet” feeling when he said Bone Cancer. Death does have a certain finality to it I don’t care what you profess to believe, turning the page on this life makes one think. Gratitude is what I saw in his face. Soon the mysteries of the universe and the deepest oceans of thought will be his. I am not jealous of his price but I am anxious for the prize- to know ones place in things. Some stride toward death like its a climax to life, others fall and crumble at the door. “Even the way down will be an adventure” he told me. Indeed my friend, breathe it in.
His God is achievement I explained… In-between passings of our attractive server we preamble back into the talk of men. I sit back with the Master Salvor, Master Sculptor, myself a metal worker and another comrade woodworker. I watch him- awestruck at the stories and hearing the word master so often makes you ask yourself have you accomplished anything at all. Mind you not the sort of achievement that depends on others recognition, most of the Salvors accomplishments were underwater and celebrated among a small crew of men who know how. We young men on the threshold of discovery sit at the table of ability and study. The word “Kemo” is said- like a wave it should have darkened the conversation but to him now its just another hiccup between jobs. Even a master of that… fear I think they call it. That achievement does not come from beating others, it comes from living up to your own potential. That poor New York farmer boy became the greatest Salvage Master in the world.
At a wedding party once I met a frenchman who said he was a underwater salver. Our table was full of people and when I asked this gentleman if he knew my friend, his eyes watered up and he told me stories of their friendship and travels together. The rest of the table included my eXwife and her husband, I was proud to have spent my time in the company of greatness. I learned a lot about my friend that night.
The roast beef sandwich is made with extra meat, I don’t know if she charges me extra but its worth it if she does. My Vegan comrade pulls avocado through straw and calls it healthy, id rather use my teeth to cut and tear into life. Have you ever had a woman’s hip on your mouth and it feel so good you cringe in fear you might not know when to stop biting her? You shiver and stop of course just before her yelp. Is that pepperJelly? Its delicious.
He normally has a laptop and an obscure book on the table. His food never lasts long in front of him- he blames it on the army. The lack of evidence of nourishment leaves you to wonder if his powers come from the sea. Soon he will be gone again, like a hound who picked up a scent he vanishes. Here just long enough to charm everyone he talks to, then he is gone again. In the old days I thought his woman ran him off, now I see its just the way of things. The well mannered son closes down the coffee shop. The smoked hens who keep watch on the veranda have gone home to roost.
Another day in paradise.
Its been over a year since he pulled the giant stump from the river.
The muddy water preserved the old tree, much better than the air.
I thought the goal at first was preserving the wood for a re.imagined table.
If it dried too quickly it would crack, if it did not dry it would rot… choices.
I let it weather till the skin became like stone,
now to stop it before the wither rots its bones.
After floating in currents of ageless purgatory.. hiding its beauty in the mud.
It stands now embracing time and all her terror.
The weakness cauterized, no more afraid.
We did not stop time, we leaned into the discomfort till we rode it like the currents we used to know.
At the center of it all is a fire… it sears the rot and chokes the damp.
Consumed eventually, but not today.
You think you have to want more than you need, Until you have it all you won’t be free…thanks Eddie Vedder “Society” ..crazy indeed, hope your not lonely without me..society. It’s hard to come home sometimes but I like to be there when I can. To remain in a state of constant arrival you need to loosen up on the definition of home. The temptation to fall back into an old expectation haunts my return. How can a real man experience real change and still fit the world he left?
The hard path…
Thats where you meet the people you want to keep.
Mah-Too-Tay was his name….
A Pemon Indian porter from Caramata.
While climbing in the house of the devil in the place where an angel fell…
I discovered the richness of friendship among strangers once more.
Ayan Tepui in his language meant “the house of the devil”-
It was named that long before the American Jimmy Angel was plane wrecked on top in 1937 and hacked his way through the jungle in search of gold and a way out of his predicament. Ole Jimmy found a way- the only walkable path down the tepui’s 3,000 ft sheer cliff face. The mountains and waterfalls that covered the top of the tepui stretched on for 300 square miles. The tallest waterfall in the world is named after Jimmy. How he and his wife found their way down in 11 days is unexplainable. The jungle heap has no obvious trails and the paralyzing fog camouflages the steep gorges making it dangerous to wander about. When the cloudy darkness sets in; which could be any time of day or night. It seems everything about the place is against you. When the sun shines there is no place more beautiful. The valley is covered with boulders and jungle thickery. Time seems to have forgotten this place, I’ve never felt so small or alone. 15 days fighting gravity with our fingertips as we cling to rocks. It made every feeling deeper- the hunger, despair, laughter and victory. Everything was so overstimulating. Bonds were forged among brothers and once strangers were like family. It took 5 days to get here, the isolation was key to the recipe. It was part of the devil you had to face inside yourself.I learned up there it is as Shakespeare said…”Nothing is good nor bad- but thinking makes it so.” The difference in heaven and hell was our attitude: the hunger for discovery of self. We developed more than a world class climbing area… there was a purification. The hearts of men were moved upon to care for each other. In this place.. the Galapagos of the jungle… no man lasted long as an island. With lungs on fire I pushed up the mountain for 3 days. The hands of brothers racking my back for breathing room as the sun collected in solar systems of the goal nada. The downhill should be easy right? My knees didn’t think so, neither did the crew. It was dangerous. A well placed stick in the path could skewer a man who placed a mis step. The Pemone’s were nimble on the hard path. I wandered what danger looked like to them. They were tiny and powerful… and thankfully kind. I was struggling to not fall, my body in rebellion wanted to quit. Then Mah-too-tay said to me in his Ewok language that he would carry my pack too. He said his bag was big but light, he was lying. He took my bag the last 4 miles as the steep turned to savannah. I was so grateful and thought the whole way that I should help someone on their hard path. My eyes are open now. When we returned I tried to lift his bag, it was 45KG… thats 90 pounds. He was not much bigger. The hard path.
Tis a new year, in a fit of morbid excitement i planned my funeral and will. just a few plans so far….
Bury me in a wooden box
Save your flowers for the ladies
bring me instead the colors of life
paint my box with handprints.
I want to feel warmth of friends-
those who have touched my life.
Save your tears for those who need them,
I have lived enough for 100 men.
To the list of those whose name I’ve journaled
I’ve left to you a lofty sum
but spend it only as I say….
“There will always be debt and never be time
there will always be an excuse in your mind
No more I say, please not on my day.
Please spend this money my way.
Be reckless and wild, push your dreams to the limit
Patagonia or Paris love everything in it.
Rather than cry in a room full of friends,
instead think of me as your adventure begins.
The world is yours.”
I recently bought an old alarm clock, it must be wound up every 8 days and seems to keep accurate time so long as i transfer some energy to wind a turnkey. A funny noise began singing from the little clock and I asked myself how long it had been since I owned a clock that ticked? Seemed rather annoying to be near it the first day. Even this morning I herd it and thought… I don’t know why at first I thought this sound was genius, then annoying so I banished it to a room I don’t sleep in. It’s really quite telling- it tells time. For better or worse it drones on behind me as I make breakfast and I pondered these thoughts. We have silenced our clocks and watches. Its easier to get lost in the day without the ticking, time seems to get swallowed up in big gulps by activities that take too long and have no real importance. If this laptop of mine would tick i bet i’d spend less time on it. I suppose we have decided that time it’s ugly and we don’t want to hear it or acknowledge it. We expect our faces to remain timeless and obsess over youth. Our bodies break down gradually; some grown older faster because of disease. Others float on carelessly until they hear or see time as evidence of mortality. The tick of time of time can be painful until it is granted the ability to change you. When you don’t fight time you won’t waste it either. You will collect people and activities to spend your seconds that really matter. Some of us hear the ticking before others and begin to live with intention early on. Its not fear that drives time, if it is… your best moments will end too quickly and your worst nightmares will seem like forever. Our time should be filled as the Exquisite Bastard says “with intense achievement”. How can i invest my time? College for example seemed to gulp years of my life- to finish it was an achievement, but this war of attrition is not what I speak of. There is little difference here than the man who tolerates his job only to get a paycheck on friday. Its not intense achievement to merely survive till friday so you can afford to put beer on the table. Finding joy in the journey is the only logical way I consider the destination worth it. For the Christian whose life was hell in pursuit of heaven; i’d say you missed your mark. We must make ourselves happy, not wait to be acted upon by something else or some impending future reward. To the sceptic who could find nothing beautiful because nothing was perfect. Know that time will scoff at perfection. The body you complain about might not be perfect; but just think how different time will pass if you instead remind yourself that you will never be more beautiful than you are today. We must push and pull ourselves as this tiny clock does, measuring each moment by the ecstasy we were able to pry from idleness. Our movement and breaths are counted and should be treasured. We should spend them wisely and with gratitude share our time with those that matter. It’s not fear that drives us… it’s gratitude. tick..tick..tickkk