I live an analog life. I don’t have a bucket list of restaurants that I need to get to. I stopped recording an annual bird list years ago. I talk more than text to a few close friends. When I dream at night, it usually about the same regrets.
I’m alive at seventy-two because I let go of a passion to coach. Or was it a passion to not lose? Either way, it is so far in the past, that it sits in my brain like a set of persimmon golf clubs that stand, covered in spider filament, in the corner of the garage.
Last year we visited the rim of the Grand Canyon. It felt like I had drifted back into the 1950s. I wanted to buy one of those stickers that I use to see on the station wagons of families who lived in our neighborhood, but it meant we would have to make a U-turn and head back to the gift shop. I hate turning back on a road trip.
When I was a boy in Northwest Indiana, there was wilderness everywhere. Not the kind you see on the internet with photographs of a remote river in Russia that holds enormous trout, but smaller stuff, a pasture across the highway with a creek that held crawdads in the bends.
I could head out in any direction on a bicycle and see something I had never seen before: a black bear in a cage at gas station, a root beer stand that sat with no thought about traffic, a backwash off a river, shallow enough to freeze solid before Christmas. Wilderness is not a destination but a place where you haven’t been.
Everything that takes place on the internet is moving too fast for me. Life is spinning faster than the centrifuge at the gym that removes water from my shirt after a workout.
Should I get comfort from knowing there are billions of galaxies beyond the horizon, and the possibility that there may be a civilization that is not marketing Coca Cola, lies, war and famine? Is creating our own departure built into our skin?
These are not rhetorical questions that I consider, as I head out to walk beneath the leafless cottonwoods, whose roots run deep beneath the river.
Terry Pettit – terrypettit.com