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This Full-Timing Thing Is Complicated

24 Sep 01

Lake City

Tonight, for only the 2nd time in a week, I built a fire and ate a good meal outside - ribeye, potatoes, corn on the cob. Then I piled the logs higher, while a half moon rose over the mountain, and a million stars wheeled round the sky. Somewhere in the middle of all that I began to feel a proper measure of my own significance.

I think I've spent most of a lifetime feeling a good bit too full of myself.

For a couple of years now I have been looking forward to simplifying my life - moving into the trailer and rolling round the country. Before I left, some of my coworkers expressed surprise that I would go all that way by myself. I told one guy that I wouldn't mind company, but if I waited till someone came along that could get off as much time as I did, I'd never go anywhere.

By way of experiment this summer, I've been on two month-long trips. In the first, to the Pacific Northwest, I covered 6500 miles in 28 days. Whenever I got bored, I moved on, and in all that time I never felt the onus of being alone. Quite the opposite. I was too busy to feel the need for company.

This trip has been different. Quite consciously I have stayed in one place. I made my way fairly quickly to one of the prettiest places on earth, at the finest time of the year. I've been here a week now. I have intentionally left the time unplanned from day to day. The place is thick with possibilities. I took up fly fishing, which turned out to be delightful. I jeeped up to the continental divide.

I sat and read most of one day, under the speckled shade of aspens, while a steady golden rain of leaves spun down around me.

I am camped on a bluff that juts out into the lake, and I pretty much have the whole peninsula to myself. Every evening the sunset lingers on the surrounding mountains. Nearby a stream pools and falls into the lake, a liquid melody that underlies the call of geese from the darkness below, the scrabbling of small animals under the trees, the occasional hungry hooting of owls above them.

All this ought to be enough to bring peace to anyone. And it does, mostly. But on 3 consecutive nights I felt compelled to abandon the sunset and sit in a local lodge til midnight, talking to strangers and drinking way too much wine. This I could have done at home.

Wait, I am at home.

I think it is harder to be alone in a beautiful place than ugly one. You have no wish to share the ugliness. For the first time in 5 years, I begin to think I will marry again. Surprise, surprise, surprise. This is no trivial enterprise, nor easily done. I am often cranky, and used to having my own way. I suffer fools so poorly that I often turn into one in the process. Finding a congenial companion is no easy trick at any age.

And in March I will be 56.

25 September 01

Well, all that stuff didn't really look so profound this morning. Maudlin, even. I am not actually rolling in self-pity.

In this setting that would be stupid.

It's just that this fulltiming thing is turning out to be more complicated than I thought. I have no need to trade a settled full life for a transient empty one.

I'd rather step up.

So the Grand Plan is going to take a little more work. Meanwhile I can see fish rising in the lake.

I think I will go do something about that.


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