20050512

Acedia, Memory, Replenishment

A significant aspect of my consciousness as traveler was often the sense of myself as a writer in the making. The richest moments of experience were doubled by the sense that they were not just being appreciated in the present, but that they were also adding to an ever-deepening reservoir from which I would draw in the future.

But the reservoir has become unfathomable and in these still moments of acedia the stored waters do not so much sustain me as remind me that the rate of their replenishment has, for the time being, slowed. I drink of my memories again and again, my thirst only increases. That reservoir, that hope of sustenance: a mirage.
...
For the long still stretches without hard and sudden rains, without border crossings and transgressions that turn all order on its dusty head, there are other survival strategies for the spiritless and footsore pilgrim. The year and a half I spend working in a kitchen in Kansas was a long haul across the desert if ever there was one, however voluntary. What I had then, what saw me through, were the emptiness and quiet of the pre-dawn darkness, the daily rituals. I remember them now: sitting in stillness for a half an hour upon rising, the drive to the restaurant, crossing the empty parking lot (15 degrees one morning, the fresh snow crunching and glittering beneath my kitchen besmottered sneakers), the key in the door, the ovens turned on, the bacon pans and the heavy potato pans in, five quiet minutes outside the back door with an apple for breakfast and a mental bow to the sunrise in all weather, in the afternoon a long solitary walk in the prairie. Listening hard, trying to make every gesture a prayer, a meditation. There would be an end to the desert and I knew it, however remote it seemed, however impossible to believe I'd ever reach it.