Thursday, August 29, 2019


I said to myself, "I need to take a walk and figure out what it is I want to be doing for the next ten, twenty, thirty years."

I started walking, and realized: "no, I don't need to figure it out. I need to discover it. I've gone as far as figuring is going to take me. I need to speculate -- brainstorm -- and then try things out. Run pilot programs. The last thing I need, right now is to figure things out."

My life is already replete with rumination. I do all the ruminating I could possibly need to do. What it lacks is experimentation. I need to build prototypes, and see how they perform.


Corymb: an inflorescence with the flowers growing in such a fashion that the outermost are borne on longer pedicels than the inner, bringing all flowers up to a common level 


Woke to silent lightning, this morning. And now the daylight: slow and halting, and as yellow as evening light. The sound of a sparrow bathing in a plastic tub lid, and little chirps and quick leaf-shudders in the hedge. It's quiet this morning, as quiet as a weekend morning: maybe lots of people are already embarked on their Labor Day weekend? But the chickens are finally tuning up, with those long, quavering moans. "My God," they say, "I can't believe it's another day: why, O Lord?"

I think of moving to a riverside cottage, if such a thing is still possible, and learning to shop once a week, and going for long walks at dawn in the hills. I used to be sure I wanted to be forever in the city, where things were happening, and there were lots of new people to fall in love with. Now -- I don't know. A quiet morning and flowing water, maybe a kingfisher, the splash of a fish? I tire of fret and striving and hysteria of high-strung, overcrowded primates. Who cares what anyone thinks of me? And what new world is going to be brought to me by strangers? All the worlds are old, now.


Joanne Noragon said...

Ah, yes, the new kind of life. I shop once a week, listen in the morning to hundred of sparrows, and go past a field of Queen Ann's lace on my way out. I didn't think it would end like this.

marly youmans said...

I've lived in a little snowy village for 21 years. Time for a bit of emptiness, for birds, for the surprise of animals on the back porch. And then I can always go to the city for a dose of Frick, Morgan, etc. I'm not mad about endless snow or summer tourists, but it's a lovely old village.

Jeff said...

Good post, Dale. Four years ago my sweetheart and I moved out to a small town so she could take a job at the local school. I imagined I'd have some shallow, quirky stories to carry back home to the city. Instead, I took the place seriously and went local. I've started saying "yes" to nearly anything that comes along, from creative opportunities to community responsibilities. I suppose this is what some people would consider a mid-life crisis, but I'm more inclined to believe that I'm simply doing the stuff I didn't know I'd heretofore been preparing to be good at. My body has not stopped crumbling and aching, but my heart is 20 years younger. So run those "pilot programs" and see what happens, because no possible results preclude contemplation anyway.

Anonymous said...

i think you're my new favorite writer. i found you while researching if massage therapists would be disgusted by my body as i am, and someone left a link to an article of yours. the one in which you say everyone is beautiful on the table and their glow is akin to starlight. by the end of my read, i was a heaving, weeping mess because my 20 years worth of hating my body led me to believe everyone else would too, especially seeing it naked. i fell down a rabbit hole of sorts, reading a bunch of your works and hoping to god you were still posting (lucky me, you are!). your work has a sort of warmth and comfort to it that somehow, just through letters on a screen, makes me feel like i may not be as alone as i thought.

Dale said...

Joanne, we do just sort of end up somewhere, don't we? I've always had this sense of being borne along in a current I can't really clearly perceive: but never more than now.

Marly, yes, I think of you, sometimes, writing away in your little village, doing such marvelous work! So it can be done :-)

Jeff, that's kind of inspiring too. Going local.

Anonymous, thank you very much! Welcome. Maybe I'll get on the stick and write a little more, then!

Carolee said...

the opening of this is just so perfect. here's to discovery! i also think i've figured out anything that's possible for me to figure out (in terms of life direction or whatever big clunky stuff there is). i'm content right now just to be in it & open to surprises. it's so interesting to me that your version of "not worrying about figuring it out" to building prototypes. :) while i'm relieved that there's nothing at all in me that craves a prototype -- or even the drive to make one -- i'm also a tad envious that your experiments will have such purpose!