Various Mes, A Catch Up, Sights Seen While Running

September… Man oh man. September. Let’s see. Some things that have been happening recently:

  • I’ve recorded two songs which I hope to release soon.

  • The trees are just starting to think about turning for the autumn.

  • Al has been helping me make this website! It’s starting to come together and I’m excited about it, and about the Cottonwood Shivers in general.

  • Al and I watched a documentary which introduced me to Brother David Steindl-Rast. I’m a big fan… It brings me a lot of peace just to watch him talk and laugh and say things like “you have to trust life”, and “we are all a network” in his sweet voice.

I’ve been going for runs recently in an attempt to do the exercise I’ve been saying I’m going to start doing for about 15 years. I see all kinds of things on my runs. Once I saw the most complete rainbow I’ve ever seen, perfectly reflected in Crosby Lake. Here is a picture of it.
I saw a dead snake in my path, all curled up in the shape of a knot, white belly up. Once I was running past a very loud tree to my right. There were birds screeching from it. I turned towards it, and about two feet away from my face was a great big white hawk. We made eye contact, then it swooped away over my head.

Today I saw a different kind of marvel, one from my own imagination. I was somewhat lost in the mire of memory this morning when I awoke, and had the past and present all tangled up. As I was running along, I imagined my past being all around me, and eventually visualised it as my younger self, running beside me. It was surprisingly vivid, me at age twelve wearing my white shorts and polo shirt for Sports Day, sporting a quiff. Twelve year old me kept up quite nicely and I connected with his energy very easily. 
Then I visualised another me: eighteen year old me. He was struggling to keep up, out of shape, tired, wearing the long black overcoat I used to wear all the time. He wasn’t particularly focused on keeping up with me, despite the fact that that’s the only thing his apparition had to do. He was dreaming about something no doubt. I held his hand to keep him going. But every time I let go, to scratch my arm for example, he fell behind, so I had to slow down and grab his hand again.

Eventually I said to him “take off the silly shoes”, as he was wearing black and white winkle-pickers. He lost the shoes. “Lose the damn coat”. Off came the coat. It was getting a little easier for him to run, but he was still under the weight of something, even if it wasn’t the clothes. “Just take it all off” I told him. So there he was, running naked through the park. He thought it was funny and was a little proud to be doing something so ridiculous. He ran through the meadowy grass like a hooligan, jumping and landing flat on some uncomfortable looking plants. Still, the joke was worth the pain. I had the feeling he wasn’t taking this seriously. I told him to put some clothes back on. Now he had on tracksuit bottoms, or sweatpants, and a cashmere sweater that mum lovingly bought him which reminded him of a beloved blue fleece he used to wear obsessively at around age ten.
I was a little intimidated by him. He had had to develop a persona to survive around the people he was with. But I realised that’s what was sitting on him. I couldn’t converse with it or try to fight it, but I also couldn’t easily accept it. I didn’t want this pained person existing in the past who I couldn’t relate to. I thought about what to tell him to make him feel better, but nothing came to mind. There was a lot about him that was difficult. He’d absorbed his environment and couldn’t see through it. “It’s OK to be who you are” I said. But I thought about the troublesome things he’d write in his notebooks, his pain, his misconceptions.

“Let’s talk about Morrowind” I said. It’s a computer game I’ve really loved for a long time, and felt a lot of shame about especially at that age, when games were not cool. I felt him perk up, felt a crack in the persona. “Let’s talk about the music you love. Not the music you think is cool, the stuff you really love. Craig Ogden.” Now he was listening, and vulnerable, so vulnerable. I was becoming his friend. “Let’s talk about Shakespeare. Not the boring Shakespeare from school, the ones you read on your own.” That was enough. I was through to him. I understood that that was when he had been at his weakest, and had needed a friend. A true friend.

Finally I visualised an even younger me, just for fun, and then little toddler Will popped into my arms. I carried him the rest of the way home. The gang stayed with me, crossing the street in orderly fashion, until I reached the back door. Twelve year old me was happily chasing toddler me, who was flying through the air. I kissed eighteen year old me on the head and said “I love you, boyo”.