Strange Trails

Diaries of a House Husband

So, two weeks into this new role and in general things are moving along rather well. There have been some wrinkles, but, as I have quoted before, “I am not the fine man you take me for.” We can weather a few wrinkles… yet today, the wrinkles seem deeper, more cavernous.

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Worrisome trail sign.

Part 1, Caution! Hazard

There have been no roosters this past week and, alas, I have found myself at a loss for words. I want to be able to say something about this place… No, about being in this place. I could ramble on and on describing the physical characteristics of here, but to what end? I would rather try to relay my impressions of what “here” is, from a deeper understanding than of what it looks like. Yet somehow, that understanding has eluded me.

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Murray Basin and Escudilla beyond.

 

I lay awake last night pondering this and came to the tentative realization that I have not cultivated a sense of being here; I have not allowed myself to absorb the presence of the place. And I think that is the trick of it, the sense of presence, of being able to simply be. For this is what it takes, I think, to get to understand a thing; not to dissect it and pick it apart to see what makes it work, but rather to be still and try to absorb it. This brings a different understanding. The dissections brings a form of understanding certainly, but it is an outsider’s understanding; it is the understanding of the other, not of the self in relation to.

Since we have been here I have been busying myself with things. Running errands, running trails, running circles. Last night I had to ask myself if I was running from something, and I think that is approaching the truth. I like this place, but I have not really been letting myself be here. Rather, I have been chasing around trying to see it, trying to appreciate it, but not understand it. I am, as they say, a stranger in a strange land, and the cold wind keeps blowing and I look at the distant hills and wonder where it blows to. Where it keeps trying to blow me to.

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The Little Colorado and a storm from the North.

 

I have no presence here. I wander and explore and orient myself to the roads and trails, but I am always occupied with some purpose. Something is keeping me from being still enough to feel the rhythms of the place, the underlying currents that lead to understanding, to appreciation. I dread to truly give voice to it, but may have to admit that I am stuck in the trap of living in comparison. I hear it in my voice when talking to people about back there, away up north. I say things like, “at home we do this that or the other.” I am here, but I am not.

I meant to talk about the trails, since that is where we left off last time, and indeed, I started writing this a couple days ago and have let it sit because it felt sterile. Yes, there are trails here, and yes, I have very much enjoyed exploring them, but for all my understanding and appreciation, I might as well be a rat in a wheel.

Part 2, A hazy shade of winter.

I came across a list of definitions on the facebook this morning. Two or three of them, I think, sort of fit the tone this morning.

  1. Monachopsis: The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.
  2. Nodus Tollens: The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.
  3. Occhiolism: The awareness of the smallness of your perspective.

In the first case, I have known that feeling many times, and in fact cannot help but wonder if that is more the status quo than the unique for me. In the second case, much as in the first, many times it is hard to think otherwise. Finally, in the third case, I think this has rather profound implications for all of life…

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Of a morning, as the sun rises and town becomes visible from our little hovel, there is a low, wintry haze stretching across the small cluster of buildings over there. Pale woodsmoke obscuring the town, except for the dome, the largest building in town, in both height and breadth. The upper crest of it, glimmering white as it rises above the smoke each time makes me think of The Tommyknockers… Each time, as the sun rises and the day brightens, illuminating the leaf-bare trees and the tall, brown and tan grasses that dot the horizon between here and there, and the mountains, like shadows looming over the valley, I cannot but wonder, repeatedly, Where is here? Where am I in this place, and who?

 

I am reminded of a quote – as I often am – in this case from Deadwood’s Calamity Jane; “Every day takes figuring out all over again how to fucking live.” Pardon my French.

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Post Script.

The title of this post is also the title of an album. It and the first album by Lord Huron, Lonesome Dreams, are wonderful soundscapes; stories put to music and I highly recommend them both.

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4 thoughts on “Strange Trails

  1. Got a diner there? Go have coffee a few times a week. From there, mebbe go volunteer someplace. Had the same dysfunction when I lived in a town east of here ’cause I had no job. Kinda created one, really. Certainly drinking coffee at the local “joint” for a couple hours a week won’t kill ya – I’d hope!

  2. I definitely feel similar things. Good thoughts. I’m looking forward to reading about this in the future. Keep on.

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