A Birthday Card for The Bob. - Birthday cards in my family are a form of tactical, psychological warfare. Seriously- our exchanges could easily make up an addendum in the *Art of War. ...
Friday, April 1, 2016
I want to do what he/she does
I want to do what he does. Or she does. We start that from an early age. Firefighter. Baseball player. Skateboarder. Sometimes those models stick with us and we stay after them. Sometimes they change. Sometimes the reality sets in: I just don't have the sideburns or hair to be Eddie Murray.
As I got older, who those folks were shifted a bit. I remember reading Carl Sandburg when I was 15 and thinking, I want to be able to make someone feel/think like he just made me feel. That would be cool. In my 20s and beyond, that became Rilke, Tom Robbins, Gary Snyder. Jim Harrison.
The stillness of this earth
which we pass through
with the precise speed of our own dreams.
Harrison died this past week. He was 78. He died at his desk, writing. From the way he lived his life, it sounds like a blessing that it wasn't drawn out, to quote those who knew him, "he wasn't cut out for assisted living."
Strictly speaking, the writer's life is not for me. I have no interest spending my days behind a keyboard, indoors, deep in abstract thought or trying to inhabit the minds of characters that live in my head. No thank you. I would rather be outside, living life, and trying to communicate that in some way. And that is part of what Jim Harrison represents for me: living an interesting life.
He spent his life doing things he loved, outside. He did things that you read out, dream about, in some cases forget about. He lived a rich life. With his dogs:
Barring love I'll take my life in large doses alone--rivers, forests, fish, grouse, mountains. Dogs.
Harrison, Gary Snyder, Peter Matthiessen, Edward Abbey. Those guys are the last men standing when I look for my tribe of guys who did, or are doing, what I want to do.
Life and language. I can't get enough of either, though there are plenty of times when language fails, or I don't want it. Harrison got that too:
My heart must be open to the cosmos with no language unless we invent it moment by moment in order to breathe.
Being open to the Universe as a source for language. And as a guide for life. I have been digging the remembrances of Harrison the man, and Harrison the writer. Obviously those two aspects are one and the same. He was a part of his Michigan landscape, the region. He knew it, lived it, and could write about it like no one else. I have the Eastern Shore in my bones that way, I sometimes feel.
I like when you can use the term "rugged individualism," and not have it be hyperbole or false praise. Harrison is the poster child. And that's part of how he inspires me. He doesn't make me want to go to Michigan and do what he did. He makes me want to get out and find, strike up, live my own life. To get outside. To chase dreams.
My advice is, do not try to inhabit another's soul. You have your own.