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The View from the Bluff

Necessity

You envisioned me getting intimate with the hardass lives of American pioneers, bringing personal aspirations and tragedies to life with storytelling skill. Yet all it really takes is getting old. What did they face that oldness – a state of mind – doesn’t force on us every minute?

Necessity. Their lives were bound by it like planets locked in by gravity. What escapes work for us anymore? I read about other lives and pay attention when they cross my paths, and what strikes me is how the sun rises to motion and sound and then sets and whatever it is is all gone. Nothing really happened and even if it did whatever it was disappeared. What’s left in its wake is a reality I sense is there but, for all my reflecting and philosophizing, I can't figure out what it is.

Companionship of another kind, loneliness of another kind

It’s not malign. It’s not hiding from us. It’s not demanding that we drop everything and pay attention. If it wants anything maybe it’s just to be noticed. Not recognized or known because that’s asking too much. Just so we’re aware. So whatever sensible or senseless business we’re about won’t make us forget. That it’s part of our business? I don’t know. I never paid much attention before but now I feel it. A kind of companionship that comes with a kind of loneliness I’ve never felt before.

I cling. Not to one relationship or to one place. Not to the memory of one event but to all of it. Everything. In a fury of sentiment and despair I cast about for a thing that can be embraced. It was all bodies and limbs, stuff that wound up in piles, so why not? If life slips through our fingers why can’t we retrieve it with fingers? Love and be thankful for it with an embrace, with a caress?

Ridiculous. I’m embarrassed. If it’s hard in this world to change mind what’s really hard is to be mind. The leash I brought to the dog park doesn’t have a dog on it anymore and I can’t adapt. I know I came to the dog park for a reason. Logic keeps telling me Carry on carry on! But something’s not the same, and it’s getting more and more not the same. Can there be motion and sound out of mind? Is this the companion that makes me cling to my life?

Something new under the sun

I complain and the answer I get back is Don’t worry, we’re all clinging. To what? To you. We need you. I guess that makes me feel better. But I want a dog on the end of my leash! A dog I can pet, you know? That loves me and plays with me. A dog I can see. What you’ll see will be much better than a dog. Your body is what’s keeping you from seeing it. From experiencing Life. Maybe what you sense is there when you walk along the bluff, when the sun breaks through the clouds over the ocean, is what’s waiting for you. It’s there. You’ll see it. Through different eyes, that’s all.

Life conditions us to think of ourselves and our surroundings in a certain way and then it fades away, structure and all. And when it does, the ocean comes back into view from the bluff, the sun breaking through the clouds. Pulling me back or forward? I don't know. For now, it's just there. A feeling. Hope and anticipation with moving on. Melancholy and grief with leaving behind. Sobering unfamiliarity, the necessity of the inevitable.

Something new under the sun. Another test, another chance, to adapt. Whatever it wants, whatever it means, it's got my attention.

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