Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am. A reluctant enthusiast and part-time crusader. A half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the west. It is even more important to enjoy it while you can, while it’s still there. So get out there, hunt, fish, mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the griz, climb a mountain, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and elusive air. Sit quietly for a while and contemplate the previous stillness of the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves. Keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive. And I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in safe deposit boxes and their eyes hypnotized by their desk calculators. I promise you this:
You will outlive the bastards.
— Edward Abbey, a speech to environmentalists in Missoula, Montana, 1978.
I’ve been getting into the office earlier so I can leave earlier, and be in the sun — the real one.
I’m browner than I’ve ever been and it feels good; a flower in me has opened its petals, demanding to drink.
The hard work of making a magazine, or a life, has been easier for me than relaxing; always I was taught the way to be is to do, but they had it backwards. Being busy isn’t the same as getting things done; it’s just being busy.
The factories of the Self hum constantly — but with phones ringing and lovers cooing and singers singing what do we hear? Here, on the endless lawn, on the endless break between shifts, I rest my head on the earth’s warm body, fall into her desire that never ceases, let my thoughts run down like machines that can always be started again.
Why huff and puff? That’s not the real work. I used to put off going to sleep, cramming as much “experience” as possible into the day. But now the light of dreams heals me along with the sunlight, lamps of consciousness illuminating what was hidden: hunger and loss, desire like a fire engine screaming through me (where’s the fire?). It was Carl Jung who said, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.”
I allow my feelings their season, see things as they are — fear as fear, desire as desire. I’m a journalist, aren’t I? Why gloss over ancient griefs, pretend I’m more or less than I am? You know it’s easier to write these words than to live them, but it’s getting easier to live them — or maybe harder not to.
The only lesson to learn, someone said, is that there are no lessons to learn. Maybe the compulsory courses end. The compulsiveness too. The blackboard I’ve written my life upon becomes an eye looking back at me, my dream self observing me, and in the eye of that other me, I am the teacher and the student, the failing grade and the prize, the chalk dust and the light — always on time, taking the test I wrote the night before, passing myself in the hall with barely a nod, or entering myself like an idea, lighting up the eyes like those tiny fish that light the sea.