Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chapter Something: Quietly Different

I want to climb that mountain, past the streams and rocks, up the airy mountain and past the rushing glen to find that meadow where that smug Sam Gribley squats and tell him, personally, to go to hell.

I read his book. It is one of the few that came with me. I thought I would find inspiration in the tale of a boy who left New York City to live in the wild of the Catskills. He could sail the Bering Strait, living off the land, that smug little man. But no. His family found him. His friends came for him, and he built a guest tree.

“Let’s face it, Thoreau,” said his friend Bando, an English teacher with enough sense to wander the wilderness during vacation but even more sense to stop wandering when vacation was over, “you can’t live in America today and be quietly different. If you are going to be different, you are going to stand out, and people are going to hear about you’ and in your case, if they hear about you, they will remove you to the city or move to you, and you won’t be different any more.”

It is not to be different. It is not to stand out. It is to be alone.

Alone with the thoughts, the crowds, the cities, the civilization, the drama, the things in my head.

Iapetus is sterile. Through the alchemy of chemical synthesis, I have oxygen and water, but there is no land to live off of, because the land is everywhere Mount Hebron dead. There are no hemlocks or walnuts nor cattails nor rabbits – I will not speak of the squirrels, nor of their tiny, tasty-looking mounts; I cannot catch them and I have no duck hawk to aid me. If I hunger for vitamins I have to take one of the carefully-meted pills I brought with me and hope, and I shake the begging bowl with the middle finger extended at the world I wish to keep at bay, that some poor sap will eventually send me more.

Quietly different.

We don’t have to leave home and crab sideways through a wilderness existence to be quietly different. Disco was quietly different, and that occurred in the crowds of the cities. There is more to be learned from Disco than from hermits, young Gribley. If we cannot be quietly different in our own heads, being quietly, defiantly different in the wilderness, whether the Catskills or the wastes of a moon of Saturn, we have no business being hermits. Protruding nails may be pounded down, the square peg shoved firmly into the square hole. But the nail can choose to protrude through the other side, and the square peg can be purple spotted with turquoise, not just a boring red.

There is more wilderness in the mind than in the universe.

Space is small; only the planets are big.

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