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Stories by the Numbers

I used to enjoy writing stories. I would create simple little things about a day in the life or a pool hall or a park and populate it with people that I thought someone would love, hate, or want to talk to. I did not have an outline or a draft or a set of notes to base things on. The ideas would take me over and I would sit with paper and pencil in hand and create. Its the big example of creating for its own sake. A kid with a pencil or pen and paper. Then there were no instagram or Facebook likes or Twitter hearts. Blogging was a long stretch in the future when people would get followers and likes and comments.

Back then it was creating for its own sake but it seemed that the data just flowed from mind to paper. I would look down after some time and would have written pages about a park and the people in it. It did not matter that no one would read it. It was the spontaneous joy of creation that my kid’s mind went through.

From then on I thought stories were fun and if they poked or prodded you with something even better. The storyteller, sitting at the fire, often was my mentor RWR around a evening fire of archeologists, geologists, and a bunch of beer. We would see the stars bouncing crazily off their horizons and RWR would tell us stories about people and places and best yet stories about these pre-eminent archeologists and anthropologists. I would have heard about Mead and Kroeber and Bateson and so many. RWR told us these wonderful tales about ghosts and mystery places where people would not go in the desert. We did not go either.

So its only fitting since I am writing this and there really are no numbers for this to get to a final little story of my own. Its about my mentor and I. A cherished moment of many moments of being both together and alone with our thoughts.

Advice Given or Sought

RWR and I often would wander far into the desert and leave his jeep parked miles behind. We wandered dried up creeks and riverbeds, dunes filled with wildflowers that made your eyes strain with color, strange historic places where cars were upside down and the adobe walls of houses were torn asunder. We also would walk up these canyons and find the rare pictograph rock art site never before recorded. That was joy. Rock art I have thought was the blogger then telling his story for those to follow. It told of a thing, a place, an animal, a time. But even doing all this, I must say that RWR was quiet. We never talked during all this. I walked. He walked. No words were said. It was mutually agreed I guess that talking would not suffice when desert archeology must be done.

It was not for lack of asking. I did ask for life advice but RWR was not forthcoming. I think maybe he felt if he committed a thing and it did not happen the way he said, it may portend something. I never felt that way so I would ask,

what is the best advice you can give me?

To which there was no answer.

what do you think of this or that as a valuable life lesson?

Nothing back but a humming noise would come and a slow smile

if I did do X, would Y happen? what do you think?

And again nothing would come.

That is until one day. Maybe RWR had met his critical mass of the not so frequent questions. Maybe he felt it was time to give me something. So I imagine with some trepidation, I may have asked,

what do you think I should know or do or learn about life?

He stopped then and I remember so clearly. Because for the first time, the very first time, he answered.

always know where you are and where you are going

And I have found out when I did not know one or the other or both, things went sideways with alacrity. I had found out a basic fact about how to chart my course. When I felt lost after that with divorce or questions about careers or changing jobs, I would ask the question. Perhaps RWR was standing there with the years separating us, slowly nodding. Because I found out often to my delight and chagrin that if I could know both, often life would move along and I could see and chart a thing better. Not that all things would come to me. No. They never did. And many things that did come to me, I lost later.

I did find out that if I could see both I stood a chance of seeing the path forward. I have not tested the ideas but now in my retirement years, with no goals and no next steps, I still like to know the basic thing of where I am in life. Not so much what country or where I wander next. But where am I in this life and do I know where I go. Its okay to not know I have found but I will propose having an idea will take you from here to there if you want that route. I have changed and do not do that much.

Still when I wonder how I measure up, if I know where I am standing what my aim is, the next step can be easier to find.

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