Monday, August 18, 2008


For many years, I’ve had daydreams of a place where I could simply enjoy life and the world around me completely free of all commitments, tasks, or obligations, even, or perhaps most of all, those tasks or commitments I’ve assumed freely and voluntarily, out of active interest and desire, such as the very writing workshop in which this present piece was first conceived. Obviously, I wouldn’t have been in the eminent and distinguished company of the fellow writers with whom I shared it if I hadn’t wanted to be. And yet, at the same time, such freely chosen activities tend inevitably and against my will to take on the character of duties externally imposed, and thus become bothersome and resented.

So it was, for example, that early that afternoon, as I walked through lovely green surroundings to the post office of semi-rural Willow where I live, I was equally conscious of my pleasure in those surroundings and of finding that pleasure diluted by thoughts about having to complete this piece, not to mention other worries and concerns. And so, by no means for the first time, I experienced a futile yearning for a pure and unmixed — a magical — joy.

I’ve sometimes toyed with the idea of disappearing for an extended period, six months, say, or perhaps even a year. Not physically — I’d still be based geographically in the same white clapboard, shingle-roofed cottage I now occupy, in its setting of tall trees, rather ragtag front lawn, and the shallow brook along the eastern side of the property that heavy downpours occasionally transform into a small, swiftly flowing river. The disappearance would be, rather, from the sphere of social involvement and obligation, a social vanishing that would leave me free to wholeheartedly enjoy the natural world, striding through the magic of a sun-blazed afternoon or a moonlit night.