It’s been some time since I have used my words. Over the years I have often quelled and hushed my voice as to soften the experience of life itself. Tonight I find myself little more than ponderous and hopelessly, helplessly – alive.
In the confines of my bedroom I stir. The past few weeks have left this homeland of mine in a fog due to the thawing of spring and life beginning anew, the infinite of all things, “the circle” as my father calls it, as the harshness of the winter bleeds into the blossom of spring. I can’t help but notice that my body is soft where it was once lithe and that my frame is adorned with the bulky muscle I often attain during the bitter winter. It is not lost upon me that there is some symbolism between my state of being and the passing of seasons, perhaps this is true of us all. But this time, this restlessness about me is blunted, I feel hesitant, I feel as the dull blade. All of my senses whisper me a fool. The putrid sun has long set and the sky above is murky outside of my cracked bedroom window. The tall pines and jagged birch all appear sinister in their silhouette. I am a fool.
The doctor was of East Indian decent, he is married, as was indicated by the dull gold ring he wore. I had gathered by his stomach audibly rumbling that his visit was rife with patients established and new, such as me. His demeanor was clinical at first as he perused my file. My file looked very thin and emaciated, probably due to the fact that I have only recently, in the past year, begun to visit the clinic as a regular. After we sorted through a laundry list of queries; as he scribbled with an inexpensive ballpoint pen on a worn looking pad of loose-leaf, did he begin to show any inclination of familiarity and comfort, this being our first meeting, he the psychiatrist, me being the patient. In the end, my dosage of mood-inhibitor was doubled and I was also to be weaned off the sedative prescribed to me by my General Practitioner. A low dosage of an anti-psychotic would fill its place to combat my insomnia. It’s been nearly a week since that meeting and in two days I am to double the dosage of said medication. I touch the collar which still hangs on the wall beside my bedroom door and pull the hood of my sweatshirt up as the door closes behind me.
The night air is cool and should prove fitting for a run. My last run was nearly a month ago. During that run I was bested by the road I most frequent. The loose, powder snow was up to my thighs and made gaining any traction or momentum quite the exercise. I had made it up the steep incline and my legs had failed me. So I was left to trudge through the unforgiving snow, amid the darkness, beaten. This thought stays with me tonight. I will not be bested again. It has been too long since I have roamed the wilds of this place I call my own, that I call my home.
I have no eyes for the darkness before me. I feel the faint brush of panic but I keep my strides steady. Even the treeline along the sides of this road are blurring into one dark void I am running towards. Under the moon and the light of the stars this road of mine is clear as day but tonight; with my senses lessened, it is darkness and nothing else. As I hear my feet scuff off the rough gravel I can only ask myself, do I know this road by heart?
I can hear the gentle push of the thawing lake to my right. I can hear my heart beating harder than usual. I can hear the weakness in my breaths. As I round a corner, knowing that the most treacherous part of this road lies ahead, I feel like a man, just a man, a very simple and very troubled man with no direction, no aim but to go forth. That is my plight, to go on, to endure, to never be still, even in stillness. I am this life, I am these trees, I am the rain, I am not above that which we call nature but part of it, a part of all.
For the past kilometer I have heard a cracking of small branches to my right. Perhaps I am being followed or observed. A few kilometers prior I had caught the scent of a skunk and only now does it bring a smile to my lips. I think of the night Bear and I unknowingly startled a skunk along our travels and nearly got doused by that pungent spray. I smile a little longer at the thought of it. My eyes are starting to return to me. Along the steep incline I could decipher the lighter and larger of the rough stones along the road. Now, I can trace the branches overhanging as I make my way to the halfway point of this pointless run. I carry my fallen companion, my companions, in my heart – and I will fear not the darkness.
Back under the orange glow of the street lights I breathe heavily, wet about the shoulders with sweat. As I quietly walk along the road I see a few flickers of embers dancing skyward. Someone has started a small fire; for what purpose, I do not know, nor do I care to. I stop as a few more flickers of flame ascend. I close my eyes. The scent of any fire always reminds me of home. I shuffle onward feeling more at peace. Whether or not it will be a lasting peace does not matter.
I walk about the house cradling my nephew. There is such beauty in simplicity. For all the complexity of life as we know it we so seldom see the solace of the simple. He coos a few garbled sounds of laughter as I walk with him from room to room of this small home. My eldest brother is visiting and tells me that they are looking for workers at a new mining outpost. This holds my attention for a moment but only for a moment as I kiss my nephew on his forehead and hold onto him as he holds onto me.
The house has fallen silent as everyone sleeps. I have turned off all the lights. I sit in my bedroom. I eat a small meal and finish reading Burroughs before closing the pages and kissing the back of the book. I ponder the possibility of what is to come. Already I am thinking of the next winter, but, I smile at what the spring will bring to me.