Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Beginnings again.

Ambition is a funny thing. It is easy to have. Plans are made, schemes hatched and bulletproof notions inscribed on paper. They always sound so great. They have all the trappings of wild and inspiring success and on paper they speak to the very soul.
Then you wake up staring at a puddle of smelly, solidifying gastro-intestinal offal with your mouth tasting like an outhouse at a chili cookoff. It brings it all home man, it brings it all home. You see, the toughest part of climbing the mountain really isn’t psyching yourself up, it isn’t preparing your pack with the essentials, it isn’t the first step. The toughest part of climbing the mountain is climbing the damn mountain! You will read a dozen self help books that talk to you about the most important step being mentally preparing yourself and the essential nature of the proper life philosophy and five year plan. I can guarantee you that these folks have never sat in the woods and tried to get a fire going when the wind was whipping around and it rained last night. Mentality be damned, at that point, it getting a fire going that is the key! Now don’t get me wrong, one needs preparation and the right state of mind if one wishes to accomplish great things, but so often folks get bogged down in the silly details so they don’t have to go through the agony of actually doing anything. There comes a time when you just gots to get on with it and do something, even if it’s wrong. Misplaced action almost always trumps intellectual apathy. It was thus that I began to act again. I tried cleaning up the place a bit, I was effectively a bachelor and my definition of keeping a tidy house fell a bit short of my wife’s upon her return but such is the interactions of Mars and Venus.
I sweated stones into place for the walkway. The largest was about four feet square and eight inches thick. I about pulled a few things on that one. A week after my drunk wore off my wife called. It seemed that her cousin’s marriage was in the process of dissolving at warp speed and she had a week to get back to the cabin. I made a flying trip to Tulsa, delivering an old Toyota Camry we gave to the now quite destitute cousin and brought the family back to our humble home.
Life began to take on some degree of rhythm. It was a readjustment for the family, accustomed to such niceties as running water and long, hot showers and elbow room, but we made do. I had managed to get back on at GM (temporary though it proved…again) and at the very least the bills were being paid down and groceries were regularly on the table. This began a short period of relative calm. We were still hauling water but one begins to find that a lack of many of the major conveniences of this modern society isn’t really much of a lack at all. This was a time of lonely (in a good way) strolls up the dark drive, a billion stars peeping out overhead. Looking down the hill the light from inside the house spilled out of the windows and I could see my family inside, wood smoke gently drifting in the night breeze, illuminated by the moon into a low, silver gray cloud. How often I would stand, cigar in one hand, tumbler of something in the other, and marvel at how nice a picture it all made. In the summer, standing on the drive at dusk would would reward one with bats. They would rise from the tiny caves dotting the hills and fly up the gap in the trees made by the easement road. Standing as I would, still as I could stand, they would swoop around me, gunning for the skeeters and bugs that were prolific. Often one would fly so close you could hear the wind as it beat it’s wings past your ear. It was majical.
One fine Sunday morning, the family packed up in the car to go to town for some errand, I forget what it was now, particularly as we never made it to town. Backing out of the drive and onto the narrow double-track that led to the slightly wider county road, we were met by three new friends. Gandalf, Nicodemous and Henney were leisurely strolling down the drive, munching on the grasses as they came. Gandalf was a little, fat, gray donkey, Henney was just that, a henney (donkey horse mix that isn’t a mule, I forget the logistics), and Nicodemous was a fifteen hundred pound Jack mule, gentle and sweet as the day is long, unless you pissed him off, at which point he would kick a freight train into the next county! This was the beginning of a short, unexpected and somewhat tragic friendship and the mechanism for some of the most profound lessons I have ever learned about myself.

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