My weekly Thursday RIR post was delayed due to the Great Snow of ’19. As you read in Craig’s post “Meditations In White,” Sisters was walloped by a mighty winter storm at the beginning of the week.
I got up at 5:30 a.m. on Monday to this charming sight:
That’s my truck under there. One of the juniper trees next to our driveway sheared off under the weight of a massive dump of snow and fell over the truck. Over, but not on. Some hatchet work got me in the clear with no damage. That was just the beginning of the work, of course, at home and at the newspaper.
On Wednesday, I shoveled a path to get Marilyn’s Subaru out of the garage and to the street. It was fine outdoor work and I enjoyed it quite a lot. There’s something meditative about the simple sisyphean task of moving snow from one place to another, and I found myself physically taxed, but profoundly relaxed and a bit euphoric.
Then I took a lunch break and turned on the news. I had forgotten that Wednesday was designated National Michael Cohen Testimony Day. I was struck by a powerful sense of unreality and disconnection — and a flashback.
In the fall of 1991, my buddy Vince Bell and I climbed Mt. Whitney in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. In that time before cell phones, we were disconnected for several days, camping on the mountain, summiting, then overnighting in the Alabama Hills. Being assholes, the first thing we did when we returned to the L.A. area was to pay a visit to our friend Sean Graziano who had been unable to accompany us due to work commitments. Vince and I, of course, couldn’t wait to rub his nose in our adventures…
Sean was watching the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Anita Hill and so forth. There was talk of a pubic hair on a Coke can and porn and penises and… WHAT THE HELL???
Coming out of the woods to that was like stepping through the looking glass into a very weird and not so wonderful wonderland. Disoriented and queasy.
That’s exactly how I felt on Wednesday.
I think there is a lesson in the physical sense of disorientation induced by moving from physically demanding, all-absorbing action, disconnected from civilization and its discontents, into one of these spectacles of theatrical scandal.
Here’s what it felt like: Last summer, I mistakenly chugged down a can of “fortified” soda water. (I know — who the hell thought of that and why?) I quit drinking almost 20 years ago, so the equivalent of a can of beer hit my system pretty hard. I didn’t know immediately that there was alcohol in the drink — I just knew I suddenly didn’t feel good AT ALL. I thought maybe I had a touch of heat stroke.
That’s how you know something is toxic — and the Cohen hearing felt just that way. I turned it off and went back to my shovel.
The implications of this are clear. I crave that centeredness that I find in a mountain trek or work outdoors. That’s the state I want to be in — all the time. I should unplug; disconnect. I WANT to. I’ve tried. I don’t know that I can. And I don’t like that at all.