Kage Baker was of the firm opinion that one needed time outs from the world. It had nothing to do with virtues or faults; nothing to do with transgression or punishments. It was self defense, a necessary mercy to one’s own soul that sometimes had to be seized by main force from the world in general.
From time to time, Kage always said, things just get too complicated, too vicious, too noisy, too crowded, too painful. The best thing to do then is to walk away, from as much of the world as you could manage. It was always an unsaid caveat with Kage, that one did indeed intend to walk back. Eventually. Otherwise, it was just facilitating an early exit, which was not the same thing at all …
Two good friends have died in the last two days. Admittedly, my friends started dying off at an alarming rate a few years ago. I am informed that this is what happens when one gets old and fails to die one’s self. However, I had always confidently assumed that I would be immune to this sorry state of affairs – don’t we all assume that? Turns out we’re wrong. Or at least I was. The really surprising part, to me, is not the intimation of my own mortality but the realization that so many of my friends – who were as gods in the youth of the world – are just as mortal as I turned out to be. And this, surely, is a huge cosmic error.
So I need a time out. Indeed, I am perfectly willing today to declare that the world is misbehaving in a very gross kind of way, and should be faced into a corner for a while. A generation might suffice … in the face of not being able to enforce that (never give an order you know won’t be obeyed, say all the military geniuses), I have no choice but to absent myself awhile from the wretched, puling, bratty, world.
Not that I intend to stop talking or writing – Oh no! There is nothing wrong with what I am doing: the fault is all with the world. Two more of my friends have departed. Robin Gibbs died, too, and Donna Summer. The rapper for the Beastie Boys and Goober on the Andy Griffith Show. Jonathon Frid! Levon Helm! Dave freaking Clark – and I was sure that dear fellow had gone cyborg years ago!
Pieces of my past are dropping like flies. Of course, that guy who engineered the Lockerbie crash finally croaked it – terminal 3 years ago, my ass – so not all the news is bad … but it’s been pretty hard this May.
Anyway, I am packing bags. Tomorrow early I intend to drive North, along the fabled I-5, through the early summer fields and the changing magnetic fields, under the vast heat rainbows in the sky and the thousands of cliff swallow nests under the bridges. Somewhere there will be cherries for sale; the air will smell of wet earth and cantaloupe and hot asphalt.
And I’ll end up in Santa Rosa, lovely town, and knock around the Bay Area for the next week. I’ll blog from guest bedrooms and hotels, and have adventures. I will eat cheese and dodge trains and drink fresh-squeezed cherry juice. And I will return restored and full of peace and energy, just as Kage and I always did.