A Long Introductory Aside
As I invited people to read my blog last week, I realized that I have been incommunicado with people who have played major roles in my life. I find regular correspondence a difficult task – admittedly Facebook plays a major role for most of us. But I’m not the most committed digital social network member either, not by a long shot. My interactions are superficial: I see faces scroll by, snippets of lives, occasionally I’ll like a video, send a Happy birthday, or if I’m feeling particularly friendly, post a quick comment on someone’s wall. I would not call that engagement.
Part of this disengagement from online community is intentional: I attempt to be present to the community physically around me. This means not living in the past and nor the future. Though some close friends might claim I spend too much time living in the future – i.e. planning, but that’s a topic for a different post. I focus on the people at hand, now – because that’s where I live. I’ve been reading some Terry Pratchett recently, specifically the books with Witches. In Wyrd Sisters, a character dies (not really a spoiler, I believe it happens in the first 30 pages), and he writes,
‘He was one of those rare individuals who are totally focused in time. Most people aren’t. They live their lives as a sort of temporal blur around the point where their body actually is – anticipating the future, or holding on to the past. They’re usually so busy thinking about what happens next that the only time they ever find out what is happening now is when they come to look back on it. Most people are like this. They learn how to fear because they can actually tell, down at the subconscious level, what is going to happen next. It’s already happening to them.’
I’m no exception to experiencing temporal blurriness: I anticipate the future. Like when Brad is climbing up the side of a steep snow field. Crevasses near the top. And who knows what on the other side? And that’s supposed to be our path around Dragontail Peak! Heart racing in anticipation. To follow? A deep sense of dread. A strong affection for my current state of being alive. No, I won’t do it.
Oh, I’m sure we would have been fine, but sitting here, I can confidently point out that not taking that path was a healthy decision wrought from future anticipation. And evidently, I ruminate on the past with this very telling.
Nonetheless, I do attempt to be here, now. That’s why I’m writing a blog to connect with all of you there, whenever. Well, that’s some irony. Yet, as I write, I realize that the act does help me to be present. I pay more attention to subtle details around me. Like how a curtain had escaped its stifled life indoors, snuck out its open window, and danced in the wind. Or how the kookaburra laugh vigorously in the morning light until about 9 am; the air is too hot to call out the glory of catching a lizard and all flight paths have been arranged for the day. Or how the sun sinking over the horizon draws wind westward, rushing over Highgate Hill, a cooling breeze footsteps from my doorstep.
In working to be present, however, I recognize that I’ve done a distinctly poor job of keeping in touch previous communities in my life – aside from perhaps my family. In reaching out to people to share this project, I’m reminded of the places I’ve been, shifting perspectives, previous versions of myself shed like molted skin, a subtle accumulation through time, from child to adult. Well, maybe an adult 75% of the time. It also reminded me how few might know how I ended up in Australia.
Header Image: Brandon downslope in the Core Enchantments. Brad is upslope behind me. Looking out towards Aasgard Pass, where we came up and ultimately, where we descended. Dragontail Peak to the is the large rock rising out of the frame on the left. To be completely clear: this is not Australia.