Woke up this morning well before 5 a.m., not particularly rested, all freaked out about mortality again.... I haven't written much about, because I lately haven't much inhabited, the spells of profound despair I'm sometimes subject to.... Sometimes I just worry. I bolt awake in the middle of the night, heart heavy and fast, tears already in my eyes, because the ice caps are melting and all the polar bears are going to die. Read a couple of days ago that all these new species, including the hippopotamus, have been added to the list of endangered species, and it pretty much bummed me out. "Entropy," I thought. "This is fuckin' entropy: everything reduced to the lowest common denominator, as boring and uniform as human beings can make it before they die out too."
And I also think about the fact that I'm 42 and probably about half way through my life. I sorta believe in reincarnation, and I wonder what I'll come back as.... I'm not announcing suicidal tendencies or anything--no need to worry about me--but there are times when I think, "Yeah, it wouldn't be so very bad to start all over again...."
And then I read something like this or this from Chris Clarke, which tears my heart in ways I can't fathom or describe. I realize that those of us who love the desert romanticize it terribly, and it's not because we don't know there are other places that are really beautiful. It's because, hell, I don't know.... In some ways the best thing I ever heard anyone say about the desert was T. E. Lawrence's response (at least, Peter O'Toole said it, in the movie version of T. E. Lawrence's life) when asked why he likes its so: "It's clean."
It's clean. You get dirty there, but the desert itself is somehow clean.
I spent most of my Christmas break in east Tucson at the home my parents recently purchased two doors down from my brother and his family, and one of the things I did while I was there was go for walks and look at the Catalinas, the strange mountain range to the North. The Catalinas are amazing: they're so weirdly bumpy and irregular, and they are perfectly situated to capture shadows created by the sun as it travels across the sky: the Catalinas change more than any other mountain range I've ever seen.
Like I said, there's something about all this I can't fathom or describe. The air seems clean (not that it really is these days) and clear and I just have this sense of... the sublime? Intimations of mortality? I'm just so aware of how the landscape I grew up in shaped my sense of... life as something bright and harsh. Of the world as something that doesn't much give a shit whether we manage to live in it or not, but is incredibly beautiful--and somehow knows that--whether we notice it or not. I've never not felt this sort of awe and despair and gratitude and certainty inspired by this deep visceral language-less knowledge the desert communicated to me the first time I look around and said, "Huh. So this is home."
I doubt this is making sense. Plenty of things I feel I can describe adequately. My love for my home and the reasons why the desert moves me--that I can't describe.