I started the year with a good writing post, so I'll try to end with one.
It was on a warm July day that, reaching for a blooming aster, I broke my ankle on a piece of Minnesota greenstone.
Except asters don't bloom in July. It was warm, too warm for fall, not necessarily July, but it couldn't have been an aster.
I remember the sun on the stone, which wasn't green. I don't know rocks, but I remember their names. Corundum. Anorthosite. Rhodoclast. It was northern Minnesota, where greenstone exists, greenstone is almost as hard as diamond and it was harder than my bones, so I remember it as greenstone.
And I couldn't have broken an ankle. An ankle is a joint; one sprains an ankle or breaks a bone. What I remember isn't the injury but the pain.
Pain has kept me company. Pain and I go way back. I'll answer if pain calls in the night. Pain might overstay its welcome, but I can't help but recognize it when it comes.
With pain comes clarity. It etches moments into permanence. It was warm in northern Minnesota when I reached for a flower and hurt myself. That I can't forget. The rest is just words to tell the story.
"Just start," he said. "If it isn't right, you can always fix it later. If it doesn't work out, there's always next time."
That's when I knew I was no longer young. Life is written on a burning page; the part that's gone is irreplaceable and constantly gaining. You can't write fast enough. You hit the bottom of the page, writing ever smaller, cramming in words, often repeating the parts you've lost and want to hold onto forever. There is no second page.
I saw the young man again, a thousand half-finished, poorly-constructed pieces, in constant motion but headed nowhere, yet inexorably headed to his own old age. I envied him and I pitied him, for I had been him and he would be me.
Or maybe he wouldn't be so lucky. Some pages are short. You'd better get moving, young man, just in case. Just start.
Aid Station: Eugene Curnow
2 days ago