All paths are possible, many will work,
Being blocked is its own kind of pleasure,
Getting through is a joy, the side-trips
And detours show down logs and flowers —GS
A piece of a Gary Snyder poem he read 17 years back. That snapped into something she said last week. Big leaps. Across time and the synapse. We know so little about the people we love. We’re just a few facts away from being strangers. But then a piece will snap into place and what more can we ask for? The whole picture? He doubts such a thing exists at all. And, if it does, it moves way too fast to see.
“A path is something that can be followed, it takes you somewhere. ‘Linear’” —GS
“If we’re going to go on hikes, you have to bear with me because I don’t do trails and I always get lost.” she said as she veered off the trail. “Bring lots of water.” He watched her march into the thick green woods. The lines of Snyder emerged just then with the vision of her little black Converse climbing over a fallen tree that blocked the way woven together with his fear of snakes and the knowledge that she grew up in a rainforest. Who is she? All this: poetry, fear, questions, relentless complexity.
“The relentless complexity of the world is off to the side of the trail.” —GS
Another piece. She spreads pieces all over the coffee table. They have iPhones, Mac Books, Wi-Fi, Blu-ray, and she wants to do a puzzle? Yes. She wants to do a puzzle and, because she wants to do a puzzle, it becomes apparent, as she flips over pieces and searches for the ones that will create the border, that they’re going to do a puzzle. (Another piece.) Kind of boring, he thinks. Tedious. And just as he begins to think something about how they’re in their 40s, for crying out loud, his eyes alight on two yellow pieces that maybe, he wonders—snap. A pencil? A banana? The sun?
Damn near wordlessly, for three hours, they listen to music and struggle with the puzzle. Being blocked is its own kind of pleasure. Getting through is a joy. The silence is not the kind of silence that bars communication. Rather, their minds—snap—are one thing that controls 4 hands and 4 eyes and this weird one mind beehive thing has 2 mouths that smile a lot. She fits, he thinks, and he is silently grateful for this night, its pace, this new piece that snaps together so perfectly with getting lost in the woods. The only way to love a puzzle is by carefully tending to its pieces while respecting what’s missing. Exhausted, they leave it on the coffee table, incomplete, and—snap—go to sleep.
Lost, they were dirty, tired, covered with mosquito bites and tree snagged scrapes. His right shoe was swamp wet. Sweaty, thirsty, divorced, in their 40s, living 2000 miles apart—there was no trail in sight and yet they rambled on together, side by side, piece by piece.
Recall how the Dao De
Jing puts it: the trail’s not the way.
No path will get you there, we’re off the trail,
You and I, and we chose it! Our trips out of doors
Through the years have been practice
For this ramble together,
Deep in the mountains
Side by side,
Over rocks, through the trees. —GS