Any Kind of Answer At All

Winter passes as winter does, in fits and starts of snow and cold, in the pages of one book after another, the cat dozing on my chest while I read in the evenings before bed, in early morning forays into the high-elevation hardwoods at the top of the mountain road. There I watch the sun rise through the leafless crowns of the maples and yellow birch and eventually over the snowed boughs of the spruce and fir, glad for the silence and the solitude and sometimes wondering how different my circumstances might be if it weren’t for snow and skis and cold and this big swath of land where I soon find myself beyond the range of human sound. Or of any human sign at all. It’s good to wonder these things, I think, at least from time-to-time, just as perhaps it’s good to wonder how to be of use in a world that spirals further and further out-of-control with every passing day. Though it’s true the answers don’t come easy; it’s true I envy those who have any sort of answer at all. Or who seem not to wonder in the first place.

In the evening, I read again. The cat dozes, and I doze with him, drifting in-and-out of my family’s murmured conversation, stars visible in the sky through the window above my head. In the morning, the boy and I rise before dawn; he leaves for work and I sit by the fire until I’ve sat by the fire long enough and then I head back to the woods where it’s always clear I know nothing more than the last time I came here, or the time before that. But also where knowing doesn’t seem to offer any kind of answer at all.

7 thoughts on “Any Kind of Answer At All”

  1. The older I get the more comfortable I am in uncertainty, in not knowing things the younger me would have thought imperative to know before starting something, to feel worthy, etc. It is very freeing! I do know that having a cat on your chest is always a good thing. Love seeing your name in my inbox. Thank you!

  2. Hi Ben…..In my predicament of these last 3 years I came to find that I actually could live my life day-to-day. It relieved me of certain worries that chewed and chewed at me. The funny thing is, they always return, creeping into my head, pestering me. But then I throw them out, evict them and go back to day-to-day. It’s kinda nice. I’m the landlord. It’s a circular cycle that’s better than constant harassment. – And your use “…..in a world that spirals further and further out-of-control…..” is plain to see: support your family with food and home, love your animals and find deep solace in the quiet woods populated with snow. And of selfish importance to me and those who follow you is your writing. We need it. It’s maybe our place of solace and quiet and you are the provider. The words of your life and they way you say them carry enormous importance to me because of how they make me feel. I bet I can speak for the others when I say that. Thank you, Ben!

  3. Well that’s why you’re not a raging psychopath, because you are okay with ‘not knowing’, and don’t have a desire to ‘control’. Combine that with taking pleasure in simple things and you could write a manual for ‘how to be a sane fucking human’. Good job Benji!

  4. The last two days in North Texas we were blessed with snow and icy conditions. I say blessed as it slows everything down essentially my mind. I watch the birds in awe of their adaptations and resilience and hope Mother Nature bypasses the freezing rain.
    I agree about the cat on the chest a fury weighted blanket that softly purrs.

  5. I don’t go quite so deep into my thoughts when I’m in the woods! I tend to be thankful rather than questioning – thankful for nearby woods to wander with my daughter, while we sometimes wonder and discuss big issues and sometimes just enjoy our snack beside the stream.

  6. I wonder if it’s just the getting older and a knowedge of happenings across the big planet that makes the world seem to be spinning more and more out of control. I imagine those who came before us felt it, too.

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