NOW WHO WILL HOLD ONTO YOUR LITTLE HAND AND WHO WALKS BEHIND WHEN YOU'RE ALONE ONE WHO'D DRAIN THE COLOR FROM YOUR EYES ONE WHO WANDERS FORTH WITHOUT A HOME LOOK AWAY NOW PRETTY BABE GO ON AND LOOK AWAY A LONG DEAD ANIMAL IS ON YOUR TRAIL RUN NOW HONEY RUN RUN YOUR RACE TO RUIN A LONG DEAD ANIMAL IS ON YOUR TRAIL A LONG DEAD ANIMAL IS ON YOUR TRAIL
The Gutter Twins
The smartest thing I ever did as a writer was hire a retired conservation agent to blaze a hiking trail for me. It's nothing fancy - just a narrow path that meanders for a little over a mile through the woods near my home. But that trail through the trees has become my therapist, my personal trainer, and my best editor.
I have been thinking more and more that I shall always be a lone wanderer of the wilderness. God, how the trail lures me. You cannot comprehend its resistless fascination for me. After all, the lone trail is bestI'll never stop wandering. And when the time comes to die, I'll find the wildest, loneliest, most desolate spot there is.
Still I walked into the snow, moving to keep warm, burning precious energy searching for an answer I couldn't think of. I didn't turn back, compelled to continue without the trail. I didn't want to risk futilely backtracking. If I couldn't find the trail before dark, I could wake tomorrow disoriented and desperate, without having even made any new miles; my loss of the PCT should have distressed me, but a new instinct led me forward. In this moment of despair I was refusing to stop fighting. I asked the mountains for some guidance, the strength to get myself out of here, and pulled wild power from within myself I'd never known I'd had. I was no longer following a trail. I was learning to follow myself.
I feel like a child who has found a wonderful trail in the woods. Countless others have gone before and blazed the trail, but to the child it's as new and fresh as if it had never been walked before. The child is invariably anxious for others to join in the great adventure. It's something that can only be understood by actual experience. Those who've begun the journey, and certainly those who've gone further than I, will readily understand what I am saying.
I like the trail that the Internet created. For example, I was watching one of those Douglas Sirk movies, and I noticed that Rock Hudson towered over everyone, and I typed in "How tall was" and I saw "How tall was Jesus, " and I'm like, "Sure, " and half an hour later you're somewhere you didn't expect to be. It doesn't work that same way in books, does it? Even if you have an encyclopedia, the trail isn't that crazy. I like that aspect of it.
I like the trail that the Internet created. For example, I was watching one of those Douglas Sirk movies, and I noticed that Rock Hudson towered over everyone, and I typed in "How tall was" and I saw "How tall was Jesus," and I'm like, "Sure," and half an hour later you're somewhere you didn't expect to be. It doesn't work that same way in books, does it? Even if you have an encyclopedia, the trail isn't that crazy. I like that aspect of it.
Try the meditation of the trail, just walk along looking at the trail at your feet and don't look about and just fall into a trance as the ground zips by, ' Kerouac wrote. 'Trails are like that: you're floating along in a Shakespearean Arden paradise and expect to see nymphs and fluteboys, then suddenly you're struggling in a hot broiling sun of hell in dust and nettles and poison oak... just like life.
If I couldn't find the trail before dark, I could wake tomorrow disoriented and desperate, without having even made any new miles; my loss of the PCT should have distressed me, but a new instinct led me forward. In this moment of despair I was refusing to stop fighting. I asked the mountains for some guidance, the strength to get myself out of here, and pulled wild power from within myself I'd never known I'd had. I was no longer following a trail. I was learning to follow myself.
Sometimes I get the feeling [my parents have] asked me to hold this big invisible secret for them, like a backpack full of rocks-all these things they don't want to know about themselves. I'm supposed to wear it as I hike up this trail toward my adulthood. They're already at the summit of Full Grown Mountain. They're waiting for me to get there and cheering me on, telling me I can do it, and sometimes scolding and asking why I'm not hiking any faster or why I'm not having more fun along the way. I know I'm not supposed to talk about this backpack full of their crazy, but sometimes I really wish we could all stop for a second. Maybe they could walk down the trail from the top and meet me. We could unzip that backpack, pull out all of those rocks, and leave the ones we no longer need by the side of the trail. It'd make the walk a lot easier. Maybe then my shoulders wouldn't get so tense when Dad lectures me about money or Mom starts a new diet she saw on the cover of a magazine at the grocery store.
From that unremarkable gap in dense northern forest, I could finally see clearly that if I hadn't walked away from school, through devastating beauty alone on the Pacific Crest Trail, met rattlesnakes and bears, fording frigid and remote rivers as deep as I am tall-feeling terror and the gratitude that followed the realization that I'd survived rape-I'd have remained lost, maybe for my whole life. The trail had shown me how to change. This is the story of how my recklessness became my salvation. I wrote it.
When one has the right swing and enthusiasm, selling is not unlike hunting, a veritable sport. To scare up the game by preliminary talk and to know how long to follow it, to lose your gain through poorly directed argument, to hang on to game that finally eludes, to boldly confront, to quickly circle around, to keep on the trail, tireless and keen, till you have bagged some orders, there is some satisfaction in returning at night, tired of the trail, but proud of the days work done.
The difference between the truth of God and revelation is very simple. Truth is where God's been. Revelation is where God is. Truth is God's tracks. It's His trail, His path, but it leads to what? It leads to Him. Perhaps the masses of people are happy to know where God's been, but true God chasers are not content just to study God's trail, His truths; they want to know Him. They want to know where He is and what He's doing right now.
I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me - I am happy.
Elnora lifted the violin and began to play. She wore a school dress of green gingham, with the sleeves rolled to the elbows. She seemed a part of the setting all around her. Her head shone like a small dark sun, her face never had seemed so rose-flushed and fair. From the instant she drew the bow, her lips parted and her eyes fastened on something far away in the swamp, and never did she give more of that immpression of feeling for her notes and repeating something audible only to her. Ammon was to near to get the best effect. he arose and stepped back several yards, leaning against a large tree, looking and listening with all his soul. As he changed position he saw that Mrs. Comstock had followed them, and was standing on the trail, where she could not have helped hearing everything Elnora had said. So to Ammon before her and the mother watching on the trail, Elnora played the Song of the Limberlost. It seemed as if the swamp hushed all its other voices and spoke only through her dancing bow. The mother out on the trail had heard it all once before from the girl, many times from her father. To the man it was a revelation. He stood so stunned he forgot Mrs. Comstock. He tried to realize what a great city audience would say to that music, from such a player, with a like background, he could not imagine.
For life is a fire burning along a piece of string--or is it a fuse to a powder keg which we call God?--and the string is what we don't know, our Ignorance, and the trail of ash, which, if a gust of wind does not come, keeps the structure of the string, is History, man's Knowledge, but it is dead, and when the fire has burned up all the string, then man's Knowledge will be equal to God's Knowledge and there won't be any fire, which is Life. Or if the string leads to a powder keg, then there will be a terrific blast of fire, and even the trail of ash will be blown completely away.
Robert Penn Warren