Wind As Teacher

Mountain Camp
July `72

The wind has been disturbingly difficult to deal with. The rain and
cold I am used to, if that is possible, but the high mountain wind
never stops. On occasion, it even snaps and buckles my nylon tent,
protected as it is by a large rock in front and pine trees behind; it
is a wonder that my tent is still standing. There is no stronger
“exclamation point” to this mountain solitude (mountain loneliness)
than the constant whir and whip of this wind. In the beginning
it was just irritating, then it became maddening, but now I have even
made my peace with the wind. I can’t explain it. I just live with it.
Maybe it is a mountain initiation thing. Initiations are always alarming,
but sooner or later the fears give way to a sense of belonging.
Maybe now I belonged to this mountain. I don’t know; it’s just a thought.

I could have left as soon as I packed up, but I put it off. Now that
the weather had broken and the sun was shining, I decided I owed it to
myself to stay another day. I have also given up on fishing. I was never
much of a fisherman anyhow. But, before I stopped fishing, and while I
was down at the lake waiting for the bite that never came, an ancient
memory (I was five or six years old at the time)popped into my head.
The memory was such a pleasant one, I decided to go back to camp and write
it down, so here it is: My mother used to take me shopping with her when
we lived in Detroit. Because we lived in the suburbs, it took a lot of bus
rides to get all the way to Detroit’s downtown. But, once we arrived, we
would not only get to go shopping, we would also visit my favorite aunt.

I remembered those trips quite well. There were the bus rides to the
inner city, and then the streetcar rides (those were the most fun)
when we reached downtown. Just before a bus stopped to pick us up,
there was the overpowering smell of exhaust. It was a good smell back
then. It meant I was going to visit my aunt. I was too small to go by
myself. But, I knew that when my mother was ready to take me, the
buses would also be ready. They connected my favorite aunt to me.
Sitting on the porch, I wanted to go see her, but my mother wasn’t
going to take me. “If I were only big enough I would take the bus
myself,” I thought. “They were just down the street from my house.”

When I had that thought, I mentally connected the highway to the
buses that would take me to my aunt. The bus took me across town, but
it did so on the highway that already was stretched out in front of
me. There were no gaps in the highway. It was here and it was there at
the same time. For me, that thought was comforting. I couldn’t go to
see my aunt, but, in a sense, the road directly connected me to her. I
was so moved by that idea that when there were no cars driving down my
street, I went out to the road and put my hand on the warm pavement. I
immediately felt connected to my aunt. She was in my presence. I
couldn’t see her, but, by touching the road, I could feel her, and
then I felt warm all over.

That memory came to mind when my fishing line had snagged a branch
out in the lake. In order to get it back, I had to put my hand in the
cold water, and when I did that I was overcome with a feeling of being
connected to all the lakes, streams, rivers, and oceans of the Earth.
Pulling in the waterlogged branch, I was sinking into the soft
lake shore mud. When I reached down to unhook my line from the log, I
grabbed a handful of mud instead. With one hand in the lake and the
other sunk in the mud, I not only put myself in touch with the Earth’s
water supply, I plugged myself into the Earth’s entire life force. I
didn’t stop there, either. With deep breaths I became connected with
all of space, and beyond—God perhaps? Who knows? I just knew that for
those few seconds, trance-like, I was appreciating “being alive” more
than I had ever done before.

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About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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3 Responses to Wind As Teacher

  1. CaroleSue says:

    Was it Aunt Mel?

  2. bwinwnbwi says:

    Aunt Mel was my father’s sister. Nanny was my mother’s sister and, along with my mother’s brother, was part owner of a Detroit bar. I’m not sure, but I think the “bar ambiance of her life” had something to do with why she was always my best friend whenever I was around. That relationship probably had something to do with my life long habits as well.

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