Beltane Waxing Last Frost Moon
Several years ago, maybe twenty, I sat down with my friend Lonnie Helgeson at the Walker cafe, a table overlooking downtown Minneapolis and the Sculpture Garden. Lonnie, I said, I could die now. I feel good about what I’ve done with my life and would have no regrets.
Lonnie looked at me, thought a moment, then asked, “But Charlie where’s your passion?”
Oh. Yeah. A passionate man would not declare he was ready to die, he’d be asking, what’s next!
Now, at 64, I can honestly say, “What’s next!” Not sure what was going on at that moment in my life, but I think I’d hit a caesura, a pause in the melody of my life, a rest stop on the way. While there, I mistook the rest stop for a destination, rather than a place to catch my breath, consider what direction my path now lead.
Older now and several caravan serai of the soul moments later, I welcome those times when life ceases to press with urgency, when the TV or a novel or a long vacation beckons. These are moments of consolidation, a time perhaps to welcome the god Janus for a good look back and a strong gaze forward.
It feels like one may be coming. Last night I finished my literal translation of Ovid’s story of Diana and Actaeon. The legislature ends this session (we think) on May 20th or so. The touring season begins to loosen as schools close down for the summer. Then I’m left with the bees and the gardens, the novel, too, of course.
These kind of moments when the pacing changes dramatically often yield breaks. Often, as I’ve looked back over my life, I’ve responded to these breaks with melancholy, a drifting down, moving into a sense of purposelessness. What do I do now? I might die. That would be ok.
Probably where I was that afternoon long ago having lunch with Lonnie.
The melancholy is ok, too. It’s an old friend, one I’ve come to appreciate as a gathering in, a time to be with myself, in myself. The melancholy slows down my appetite for life, forces me to pay attention to subtler, inner things, so when I reemerge, I’m ready for another road on this one-way trip.
So, if you talk to me a month from now and I seem a bit distracted, maybe a little down, you’ll know I’m really just resting, getting ready to come out of my corner. Again.