Having nothing useful to do while waiting for something to happen
Last night I sat at the kitchen counter reminiscing with a bottle of Merlot from the Napa Valley and a finger worn copy of ‘The Climber’s Guide to the Sierra Nevada’, held open by an empty bottle of James Busby Pinot Grigio. As I read, my stiff, arthritic fingers unconsciously searched for small handholds on granite peaks, mountains I had not climbed when I was able. I felt for any irregularity in the crystalline igneous surface that might provide purchase for the edge of my vibram-soled boots, any defect in the Formica counter that could promise promise. I was making little progress and closed the book. I thought of going to bed and attempting to enter my past via a dihedral on the north ridge of Mount Cotter, or forget the high hills entirely and go for a stroll among the booksellers beside the Seine, or I could do as I had been doing for the past several weeks: sit quietly, do nothing, and wait for spring.
Something was bothering me; had been troubling me a very long time. What it was I could not ascertain, just a general feeling of lassitude, uncertainty and doubt. I realized the few things I had managed to accomplish lately had been done simply to fill the empty hours between sunrise and sunset, or sunset and sunrise. Perhaps what I felt was guilt? But about what? I did have a list of projects I wanted to begin, or finish, and yet somehow couldn’t find enough enthusiasm to even think about. It was true, many of my projects, the mosaics and sculptures especially, required warmer weather, and many of the others would be difficult to execute huddled around the heating stove, but not all. Perhaps I had too many things I wanted to do and could therefore not concentrate on any one for any length of time. And at my age I was constantly reminded of how limited that time might be.
I opened a bottle of Cabernet, slipped on my down parka and wandered out to the back porch. As I expected there was not a star visible and cold water dripped from the eaves. The only bright spot was the long sweep of snow reflecting light from an upstairs window. In defiance I created a night sky worthy of Van Gogh's 'Starry Night', but without the cypress or church steeple, and filled my glass. But, after a few minutes of transcendental bliss, I felt the wolverine of uneasiness gnawing away at my tranquility. I decided I had to do something, but what?
Then I remembered, as if I had ever forgotten, I still had Whinkla’s recent notes to transcribe. And then I suddenly recognized the underlying source of my guilt! Whinkla! I remembered that under my bed there were several cardboard boxes filled with his letters, manuscripts, and journals. There was 'Blimp', the handwritten manuscript I’ve safegaurded for several years, a document I had once started to transcribe/type for him, but given my human limitations, abandoned, feeling guilty of course. And Whinkla told me he has an even larger collection, a trilogy he refers to as the Malador manuscript he would like me to look at. I think I might have typed some of those pages into the computer earlier, but I can’t be sure. I’m not sure of anything anymore.
I refilled my glass and promised myself I would finish up this last unfinished business with Whinkla and then tell him I simply did not have time anymore to be his secretary, editor, guardian of his manuscripts, psychiatrist, clearing house, answering service or anything else, he would simply have to fend for himself. That’s what I decided, last night.