My life has stalled into an strange art: framed, entombed, useless. I am complaining about none of these–how could I?–but it nonetheless presents a struggle.
A struggle, or the opposite of one.
I feel a little like some spiraling bird; instead of falling I am looping in ever increasing circles upwards, and upwards, and with every iteration the world–my world–grows further away. It’s more perfect this way, from a distance, with everything resolving into doll-like miniature detail, but I have learned not to trust perfection.
Yet tomorrow I am leaving, flying away again, and again heading west. That west will always eventually resolve to east I do not know whether to give thanks for, or to resent.
I have accepted, belatedly, that I ought never–or never again–be a leader, or, at least, never one anyone would dare to want.
I have realized, belated, that I hold followers of any sort in deep (if shameful) contempt. I do not trust those who willingly abandon their freedom and decisions and responsibility to others; my psychology shudders, however inadvertently, at any who’d want someone else to guide their lives, or provide a poison-gift of answers; I am, finally, afraid of what I’d bring. Because were I handed the mantle of leadership, ever, I would lead only to the edge of some glorious precipice, and, into it, leap.
I would fall, of course; I am no angel, and all endings are at last the same.
(I would fall, of course, but perhaps–or certainly–some of those who followed would fly.)
I am home from a few days of driving, aimlessly and watchfully, through the alien landscapes of the southwest. There is such emptiness on those plains, and such searching beauty, and such implacable indifference.
I find this all so reassuring.
I love such traveling. It provides the easy excuse to be a stranger, a state that has always felt most comfortable to me. It provides the delicious ability to imagine rich and uncontestable stories about even the most squat and obvious encountered others. It provides distance from the familiar, which feels somehow safer when preserved in a bubble of memory than it does in person, when every fragile shift is felt. It provides a pleasurable, rapturous sense of anticipation, as if anything, and everything, could happen. (Still, I do not think I would much enjoy a career that put demands and limitations on the luxurious escape these peregrinations provide–part of the enjoyment involves casting all timetables to the wind, or, rather, playing carelessly with time itself. I was gone for days, but it might have been minutes, or perhaps months.)
My favorite stretch was on Highway 71 in Colorado, a Euclidian axiom of plane geometry. I saw, for nearly two hours, nothing save the road, the prairie, and the inexorable distance of the horizon. Or no, that’s not entirely true: at one point a semi passed, greeting me with the blast of a horn and force enough to nearly skip my small car off the narrow two-lane blacktop, and at another, a rabitting thing shot off the same road ahead of me.
Of course the world is never as empty as it seems: after only a few minutes the clouds cataracting the otherwise clear sky gained an alluring significance; after another twenty the hum of the road began to whisper strange lullabies; after an hour I could have driven forever. Perhaps one day I shall try.
Yesterday Kazuo Ohno died.
Someday soon I’ll write about the impact his being and practice and body of work (and lineage) has had on me; today, though, I am grieving and dancing and sorrowfully, joyously, celebrating his life.