excerpt from “No Longer Here”

Herons seem to be keeping most of the ancient records and they are not talking so we must begin with a time when many of us came here. By us, I do not mean fur-trappers or the cavalry or cowboys or miners or loggers or even indigenous peoples. I mean people like you. Tired and doubting everything you once believed in, washed up into this eddy of manifest movement, swirling just out of reach of mountains and wilderness that beckon to you, but the inertia of your existence prevents the actual realization of the dream of becoming one with the wild. And I can tell you from experience that the wild is very grateful that our lives are so filled with self induced trivialities that prevent this rendezvous, because the wild does not need or want us. The wild has seen what a huge mess we have made of civilization and would just as soon we watched it on television with our children who do not really share our unrealized dreams anyway.


Those same kids, our progeny, are just trying to stay out of our way while we swirl in our little personal eddies. Like animals everywhere, they stare at us interested but unable to help.


A white haired lady talking to herself and walking past a dentist’s office suddenly stops in mid-stride. She looks about her in a panic. She does not recognize anything. Perhaps, in her mind, she had been walking in the past with her long dead husband and talking to him about where they were going and everything was ok until she looked up and noticed that it is no longer 1963. She also realized that her husband was not there. Instantly, she understood to her horror that she was alone. Suddenly, everything she once knew is now wrong. I ask her if I can help her. She stares at me blankly without smiling. “I’m lost.” she says.

“What is your address.” I ask.

A smile comes over her face as she realizes something.

“I live over there.” She points at a brick building nearby where old folks live.


There are few landmarks remaining to guide the lost in Missoula. There is the statue of a bear on a campus nearby and an old building or two, but most things we once recognized are now buried under a layer of development that just keeps piling up. Our own lives get in the way of history, but history is a D-8 cat and you can’t stop it. It will drop its blade and push us into the layers that form the tracks of its passing. Soon and way before any of us knows it, we are a forgotten layer of sediment. What about freedom to explore existence?







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