45. No, I’m not going to waste my breath talking about that guy. That number is the number of years ago that I walked up and down La Rambla in Barcelona, Spain and today, here I was again. While my friend Prosper went shopping with some friends, I sat down and wrote in a journal that I began that very summer in 1973. (Well, different books, about 25 to be exact, but all part of the same thread). I couldn’t help but think about this William Stafford poem:
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
And that’s exactly right. Things have changed in 45 years—certainly my body and my experience and my stage in life and certainly the political climate. (Though come to think of it, that crook, liar and cheat Nixon was just about to resign. Oh, history, please repeat yourself!!!) Yes, people got hurt and died and I suffered and I’m certainly getting old and soon my birthday will give me that new number to remind me of it. And below are the photos to prove it. This thing called linear time appears to have some substantial reality, though I also believe in the circular, spiral version.
But the astounding thing is that thread. It hasn’t changed. (And, by the way, La Rambla hasn’t changed much either in many ways.) The dreams I had then are the dreams I have now, the things I was starting to love then—Orff, Zen, Jazz— I continue to love with a new depth. I’m heavier, balder, beardless and wear Tivas instead of walk barefoot on the street, but I don’t believe I have ever let go of that thread and thus, generally don’t feel lost and in fact, generally feel at home wherever I may be. (As long as I don’t watch the news).
I would love to reprint my journal entries from that first walk up La Rambla, but since I am here and not in San Francisco where that journal ages quietly in the bookcase, that will have to wait.
Meanwhile, simply grateful to be still walking on this earth, new friends and old still by my side, joined by the golden thread that gives it all shape and meaning. 45 years of it unraveling and yet, also winding around the spool of the ever-present moment.