You can’t count it love until you’ve lost
If you love someone this is what it costs.
I went camping the other day. It was right after a grueling four day trip to the east coast then on to Denver. I was physically run down and emotionally strung out. Defeated and drained in every way. I needed a recharge.
Now going out into the middle of effing nowhere, alone, when you’re depressed is the moral equivalent of saying “hold my beer and watch this.” You just know it won’t end well. I made two concessions to my friends. Leave the hand gun at home. No alcohol. I did leave the gun, but snuck in a flask. I didn’t drink any though.
Camping for me is therapy. Being in “the nature” clears my mind. Being alone in open spaces heightens the senses and forces you to be aware of things other than the demons in your own head. My demons have been quite busy lately. They’ve also been drinking a lot then accessing my phone to drunk post on Facebook in the middle of the night. (Bastards!)
While I love camping, I despise campgrounds. If I wanted to be around that many people I’d go to Disney. They have fun rides and cleaner bathrooms. I prefer remote camping where I can take a whiz outside my tent in the middle of the night or go dig a hole if I need to do anything else. I realize this is not for everyone, but for me it’s liberating.
In the summer I’ll go to the Arizona high country on the Mogollon Rim. In the winter I’ll go the Aqua Fria and camp among the ruins and petroglyphs. The high country is amongst the Ponderosa Pines and I find a spot overlooking the rim. The Agua Fria is much lower in elevation and is high desert, but pre-Columbian cultures called it home for centuries. It’s a deeply spiritual place to me and I’ve never ever seen another soul where I camp, which might have something to do with being 17 miles off a paved road and needing 4 Lo in a couple spots to get there. More than once I’ve thought “if i break a tie rod out here I’m totally fucked.”
This particular trip I needed the clarity that only the nature and nature’s God can provide. It was a new moon so the stars were especially brilliant. I turned off the lantern, let the fire die and sat drinking coffee, smoking a Dominican cigar whilst listening to the silence and admiring the universe. Sadie the curvy cavalier was unimpressed so waddled into the tent and put herself to bed.
While the night was silent, the universe, scientists tell us, is far from it. With the right equipment the universe is noisier than a Nine Inch Nails concert, only more musical. Pulsars, quasars, various forms of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum. The Voice of God. When you’re alone and the Voice of God speaks the best thing to do is shut the hell up and listen.
Life has been troublesome lately. The dissolution of our marriage has been especially painful to my whole family, although Sandy and I, even divorced, get along better than some married couples. I’m at a career crossroads and my newly single personal life (at 54) requires navigational skills I don’t possess. Apparently, I’m piloting the Exxon Valdez. So I went seeking calming clarity not to mention learning how to read navigational charts.
Life is made up of multiple moving parts, often moving so fast that it’s impossible to assign attribution to any one thing. Clarity can come when you slow the ride down enough to see life in single frames. Then you can get out of the ride and watch. Until that time, you best keep your hands and feet inside at all times.
What clarity did I find that night? Sometimes the specific resolution is that there is none. So much is outside our control. We can only steer our own vessel. No one else can steer ours.
Of course the ocean is full of vessels and sometimes you end up on a collision course with one. Such has happened to me and circumstances prevented the vessels of our lives from traveling in tandem. The clarity is I can’t change her course, although I dearly hope she chooses to. I’m willing to change mine to meet hers.
Until then I will live with the loss. For this is what Love costs. A night under a starry desert sky cleared that up for me.