Beyond the Window

27 August 2018:

I take a walk a cold Monday night in August. Yes, this is Montana and it’s been raining all day, the thermometer hovering around 50. Grey and puffy, the sky has been quiet through the whole performance.

A silent film.

The pause between stanzas.

The turning of a page.

And I have spent most the evening with the office window cracked, listening to what can’t help but speak: the traffic, the ambulance, the few car door slams and passing conversations.

In the windowsill I keep a collection of what’s past, and what’s to come: a bike light and last year’s notebooks, a cigar cutter from a recent trip to Denver, a rock from Washington, two lacrosse balls I found in the field by campus, my old wallet, three pairs of sunglasses and my pocket knife.

And for the future?

For that airy time we often point to but never know, I have a stack of books to read and a tool that tells me what day of the week it will be for any day of the year for the next fifty years. (A handy contraption for planning my 75th in San Sebastian or some Greek island.)

The stack of books, it’s always there, though the titles change from month to month.

Tonight, I pick up Edward Abbey’s Beyond the Wall, and suddenly, I’m in the Sonoran desert, listening to this gruff man grapple with himself, lugging a sixty-pound pack and cursing blisters, sneaking between desert hills, following a map in hopes of water, with days and days of miles that only mean more suffering, more living.

But hey, I’ll give him this: he keeps on going.

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