Aiy, Aiy, Aiy

Rick Bass once wrote about his Montana wilderness as though it hijacked his piece of mind, his sense of the sacred, and his ability to maintain inner peace. He cherished the landscape and his mountain home while also realizing the dependency in this betrothal. In other words, he worried that he wouldn’t be able to find peace any other place on earth.

There were times when life in these mountains has felt like that for me. So much of my own integrity as a writer seems to stem from the possibilities this landscape and lifestyle offer me: simplicity, closeness to nature, quiet, affordability, and solitude. I, too, wonder how I might be able to live my writing life without Fork Mountain as the backdrop, or the Black Mountains just a 30-mile drive away.

Yet this can’t be all there is. Loneliness has begun to creep in on me with a graveness I haven’t felt in a long time. Getting dressed up for the occasional holiday gathering, I look around for a housemate to get a second opinion on this dress or that skirt. There’s no one there. Sitting around the table with friends at such gatherings, I look for that person in the room whose eyes are on me. Everyone there is hitched with somebody else. I look for a way to celebrate or distract myself, the occasional relief from my ever-critical and ever-productive mindset. There’s nothing but dial up internet and empty buildings in a row of small towns where business are closed down (in a dry county, no less).

I’m not sure where this is headed. I’m not sure how to find what next. But I fear staying here will keep me beholden to the landscape and lifestyle in a sort of false dependency, making me ultimately resent this place. And I fear just flinging my net out into the great yonder of recession America, I could get lost unless I find a truer aim.

The writing is on target. I know that is my life and how I want to make it. But where to make it and where to live so I can find the other things I need for balance. And how to pull that off.

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