An inescapable feature of the act of blogging is the tendency to engage in a kind of confessional writing which, if carried too far, can become so embarrassingly and tiresomely personal as to disgust the reader. I've already committed this sin more than once in these postings, and I guess I'm about to do it again. So be warned.
Most folks who know me would probably say I'm a pretty private sort of person. I live on a remote mountainside; I tend to shy away from contact with others; and most important of all, my mother always taught me that it was bad manners to air my personal preoccupations in public. But lately when I sit down to write a blog posting I find that I can't help looking inward and exposing what I see there. Partly this is, I'm sure, a function of aging (yes, I know, I've already written about that) and of having been lately diagnosed by a battery of psychologists and psychiatrists as someone in eminent danger of succumbing to dementia (OK, sorry, I've written about that too).
Anyway, the point is that I've gotten into the habit of thinking of myself in the past tense. And while that's of course somewhat alarming, it's also, I've discovered, oddly exhilarating. I look back over my life and, while I see all the great things I wanted to do but didn't, I also see the things I did do that I can still be proud of. Of course the biggest of these is that I actually became the writer I had always wished to be.
Naturally the negative counterpart of this realization, given my aging and mental impairments, is that I fear I may have lost the ability to continue the writing which has been my most satisfying accomplishment. It's ironic--within a month I'm going to be touring Colorado with my new nonfiction book Season of Terror, yet I'm plagued by suspicions that this may be my last book, and that because of my limitations I may not even be equal to the strain of the tour. For someone who has come to identify himself as a writer and speaker after many years of wrong turns in life, these are terrible thoughts.
So imagine how uplifting it was when, last night, I had a dream so transporting and so beautiful that, at least for now, it has swept away the darkest of my fears. I don't know why I had it; nothing in my recent experience could have formed it; yet it seemed to be exactly the dream I needed to have. There were no people in it; no events transpired; it was simply a single stunning vision--a vast alpine landscape, a valley immensely but gradually, serenely sloping down from left to right, steeped in brilliant sunshine with a clear periwinkle blue sky arching over it, no mountains in the distance because the valley itself seemed to have been implausibly lifted higher than the mountains surrounding it. In it I sensed a deep and comforting stillness, a peace beyond description. And strangely it did not banish my valedictory sense of being near my end; instead it reinforced it, but in a deeply comforting way. Perhaps it was a vision of the peace that comes with the end of things. I don't know. I'm only grateful that it came to me. It felt like a gift--a gift of immeasurable value.
While no photograph can capture what I saw in my dream, the image in the dream reminds me as I write of a picture I took sometime ago in Colorado which will be one of the illustrations in Season of Terror. It is of Wilkerson Pass looking toward the vast bowl of South Park. It has at least some of the power that my dream had.