I am sitting on a patio looking at another patio I am helping construct for a special friend. I’ve never built a patio before. One can always learn something new. I worked hard this morning on the project and felt the sweat and grind that comes from manual labor. I need more of this in my life.
Soon, this friend is driving the length of Oregon to investigate a possible opportunity to help me reinvent myself. That’s a long way to drive for someone. Who knows if the opportunity will pan out, but I’ll never forget this friend’s drive. It reminds me of what Werner Herzog did for his friend in Of Walking in Ice when he walked to from Munich to Paris in the early 1970s in the middle of winter because his friend was ill. It’s one the greatest books ever written and I urge people to find it, although it is almost impossible to find. Reading it for the first time changed my whole idea about what writing can achieve.
I’m reading Jack Kerouac’s Dr. Sax and going nowhere with it. Nowhere. It’s more of an archaeological experience that a literary one. It’s sixty years old but feels more dated than something by Dickens.
I wonder if anyone in Oregon will be reading my book about rain, Of Walking in Rain, 60 years from now.
I’m also reading a thousand-page biography of one my heroes, Arthur Ashe, the African American tennis champion, who died from AIDS (from a blood transfusion) in 1993. It is inconceivable to imagine what he experienced in the segregated south of the 1950s and 1960s as he moved up the tennis rankings. Then, of course there was his advocacy against apartheid in South Africa and his pioneering work to destroy that racist system. And of course, there was his cool, unflappable demeanor on court, which stood in such contrast to the asshole antics of Nastase, Connors and McEnroe. I wish I would have emulated Ashe’s style in my tennis-playing youth, but I did not. Most of us succumbed to the assholes’ way of comporting themselves. I like to think I’ve learned the Arthur Ashe Lesson in Life, in my writing and personal and political lives. It’s going to serve me will during this reinvention. It would serve a lot of other Americans well to comport themselves like Ashe in the days of social media and President Trump. It’s so easy to be arrogant and demeaning. It takes stamina and concentration to be deliberate in life.
Birds and squirrels are all around me. Deer lurk on nearby lawns. I see a quail feather stuck among branches in a burn-pile ready to be set off into a clear night. I might let it off tonight and think around the fire.