Monday, August 10, 2020

On the Subject of Time

 Letters from Josh

Advice Sought on the subject of Time     8/09/20                                                Letter 18          

  Howdy, folks!  How’s everyone doing over there today?  I’m...a whole mix.   I was sad this afternoon, and wrote a real doozy of a letter.  Then I had a nap, some greet tea, and an evening walk in the humidity, the forest quiet, the clouds towering fantastical pinks and purples in the summer sky. Now, after some much-needed edits to this volume, I’m pumped for a dive into the sea of Philosophy!  Ahoy, mateys!  Diver down!  

  So, I closed two books this weekend - ended out two eras, and it knocked me for a loop. 

Yesterday’s was saying goodbye to my first car, now a project Camaro, passed on to my younger brother, who will fix it up into a lean mean street machine.  Still, I waxed nostalgic as I drove it on a farewell spin to the river, complete with a noisy burnout and neighborhood annoyance on the way back.  All good things must come to an end, though, and as if on cue, the driver’s window almost didn’t roll up. 

Today’s was much harder.  I said goodbye to a place that I’ve grown up with.  It’s an art gallery that - well - it’s a long story best reserved for another time.  Suffice to say, this community had been a family for mine in our darkest hour.  It’s going on to something different, my family in another direction, and like the Camaro, there’s a time when one lumbers out of the driver’s seat one last time, pats the bumper affectionately, and goes inside, the closing of the door echoing much longer than it should.  One must, image comes into my mind, a ghost, really.  It’s of a much younger version of myself, complete with scary rockstar long hair, and my family, all of us crammed inside a tiny blue car that was a lifeline in a dire strait.  We’re all intently staring at the road stretching out in the valley - and the challenges in front of us - not knowing how we’ll prevail, but knowing we must.  It moves me to tears to realize that we did, but my God, how keenly I miss those days when we all wandered through a ferocious wilderness, daily confronting (metaphorical) single log bridges over yawning chasms...and we all made it.  We all made it. That cold sharpened us like nothing else could. These days are easier.  Us boys are grown and established.  Mom’s earned a well-deserved opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief.  The story has ended with almost a fairy-tale quality.  We are all better people.  Yet, I can still see that little blue car in my mind’s eye, but now I’m grown, standing on the road, watching it hurtle by, westward, into the mountains beyond, and the setting sun.  Maybe it’s the golden light that sparks a tear in my eye.  What do you do with closing books?

  Walking quietly this evening save for the buzzing of a persistent deerfly friend, I got to thinking about how Sunday is quite the day for pondering memories.  The twilight seemed misty with the ghosts of them - the cicadas singing of summer nights in childhood...The muggy August of leisurely strolls with old girlfriends, where our meandering steps could never slow the clock, no matter how hard we tried.  The Black Walnut tree waved from 1987, and I remembered watching water of the Greenbrier river flow under a bridge years ago in the town my parents met, wondering “where does it all go?”  Do we really understand Time?  I suddenly imagined all of these scenes crystallized into little baubles, Christmas ornaments strung across the Cosmos, just waiting for me to peer through my telescope and say “ah yes, I remember when…”  It seems to me the spirit of these times lives on, and we often know it when we move through these days, the feeling that we’re in something that we’ll recall one day on a quiet Sunday evening.  

  I bought a photo from the gallery today before I left.  It’s been there forever, and although unremarkable, I’ve been drawn to it since Day One, as if I knew.  It’s a set of empty railroad tracks at twilight, stretching into the distant mountains ablaze with autumn color, empty now, but perhaps waiting for the next train?  Seems fitting.  Shh, if I listen close, I can hear an echo.  Who knows what’s next?

 So, what do you do with books to close, ones to open, and memories to cherish?  I’d love to hear.  

  • Josh

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