Paris never slept, as I found to my pleasure when I returned at 21 and took up residence in a crummy hostel. Upland, in contrast, rarely seems to wake. But you can see the stars here like you never can in Paris, and the lonesome quiet of the prairie has started to feel like a companion. Maybe even a friend.
The irony of conversing with a stranger is that your individual lives always look very different and personal, but then you strip away the nuances to find a common likeness buried inside of diversity. Take away money and geography and we’re all just flesh and blood and soul. We’re all dealing with sin and forgiveness, love and hate, glory and shame. The big ideas remain. Life creates another day of history and the babies keep on coming. People dream their dreams. The young grasp at reinventing the wheel and the maturing masses learn to let go of such reinventions one breath at a time.
On the day I was making stock, I was also taking stock. No doubt many of us do that this time of year, with the old year gone out the back door and the lock turned behind it, the new year just over the threshold, still slipping off its coat.
One way to consider and savor a year: Whom did I meet? What new friends did I collect and get collected by? What correspondents became a face and a voice and a delightfully embodied presence?
Despite my deep longing to be among the ranks of what I call the “true” artists, the kind who can effortlessly dress themselves in wonderfully whimsical, sophisticated clothing and decorate their homes with lovely abstract art that has deep roots in poetic allusion, I am really too poorly dressed and my home too pathetically decorated to ever count myself among their ranks.
Too often when you reach the top of anything, a mountain or a career, you find yourself standing alone or with very few others. Attrition travels the length of the ascent. It may be that only the highly skilled and the very wounded make it to the top. The highly skilled arrive because they’re more prepared for success than anyone else in the world. The skilled-but-deeply-wounded arrive not because they’re so majestically prepared for success but because they cannot stop moving. Even the peak does not stop them. Space is their next frontier. Final frontier? Hardly.