THE WANDERER by D.L. McHale

 

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I am what they call a “Wanderer.”  Not exactly a social pariah, more of a curiosity.  My disdain for social conventions puts me upon a lonely path, but I am not alone.  There are others like me; dark, brooding, faithless.  In another time we were called Writers.  Much like spiders who craft intricate webs to ensnare their prey, Writers painstakingly spin intricate phrases with the thread of words designed to trammel the unsuspecting Reader.

In another age, Writers were revered.  Turned and examined, magnified for detail, polished until their inherent nature shimmered in the light; their words lovingly bound in the finest of leather and placed high upon shelves as a beacon guiding the lost through the fog of Human condition.  We were Artisans and verbal Musicians, who, with the careful stroke of the pen cuts through the suffocating haze of uncertainty and lays straight the path toward true understanding.  But that was then.  Today, we are held in much lower esteem, not quite reviled, but avoided nonetheless. And so we Wander.

We Wanderers toil in the wee hours of the morning, honing our craft for eyes that cannot and will not see.  Our books, our life work, are used to prop open unruly doors and to serve as false counter-balance to the plasma screens and the computer monitors.  In a pinch, they still serve as excellent mortar to chuck at the wayward spouse.  Few of us who remain still wield the courage to load the printer with paper and actually print out that which we write.  As  long as our words remain framed in the relative safety of the Internet or the hidden Journals, no one can do more harm in their criticisms than the “delete” button or the roaring  fireplace  will allow.

We exist in the sharpened edges of social relevance, often cut asunder beneath the weight of the smart-phone and the IPad. We subsist by prostituting our vocabulary for a few meager coins of acknowledgement, often to our fellow Wanderers.  Yet we remain shackled to our craft and devoted to that slim chance that we might one day rise again in ascendency.  Like Moses, we roam the deserts of art with our tablets tightly tucked beneath our wings, searching for the promised land.

Until that day, we Wander.

An Abandoned Life is Still Worth Living

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“Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”  Such a clever line, but it begs the question: where is “here?”

Here for me has been a myriad of people, places, and things.  Ever naïve and hopeful, I have entered relationships, new places, and acquired things with every expectation that “here” was laid my true path to happiness and self-fulfillment.  Surely bright and shiny people and places and things, when gathered in sufficient quantity, would fill my life with purpose and meaning.

It never did.

People came and left. Either they abandoned me, or more likely, I abandoned them. As the song goes, “disappointment was my closest friend.”  Places shifted according to financial necessity or in my awkward attempt to substitute geography for responsibility.  And things, well, I’ve lost everything I’ve owned several times and I’ve never truly missed any of it.  It became clear to me that lack of commitment and abandonment were my sunrises and sunsets.

The funny thing about life, though,  is no matter how utterly you screw things up; no matter how isolated and diminished you allow yourself to become, it comes looking for you, continually seeking to make amends. It is relentless.  Life only abandons you once, and in that moment, it doesn’t really matter anyway…you’re dead!

Abandonment is a shifty thing.  We are never truly alone, nor could we be.  We are all threads in the colorful tapestry of life and together we are woven into a continual fabric of oneness. I’ve long since stopped confusing abandonment with growth…being ruthlessly thrust out in new directions for my own spiritual good.   If I find myself alone, in a new place, surrounded by new things, well then, I’ll grasp a little less frantically and simply enjoy the moment.

I still hope.