what comes up through the bones

by tobias crabtree

i have a difficult time wanting to read modern writers. i get sick of hearing stuff that sounds like the next guy and over and over. i can’t help but see the tendencies that run through our culture because we all know what’s the newest or what’s the coolest. everyone is a know-it-all because they can dispute anything that you say by googling it and tell you “how many bones a giraffe has in it’s neck”, as if they studied giraffes out of a heart felt passion for those long-knecked ungulates with lacy lashes; but no, they just googled it. being hip is being this way that’s cool and hanging out with others that are that way so that everyone kinda wants to be that way and the next thing you know, being hip is like being just the same as everyone. same goes with modern writing, everyone is all of a sudden an expert on how to write right, right? have you tried to find a modern melville? there can’t be one, too much is too easy and to be a melville you’d have to ignore comforts and conveniences and you’d need to struggle and you wouldn’t be able to google a godamned thing, and you’d not be famous and you’d die kinda poor. you’d probably get institutionalized for being weird and they’d issue you a grip of white pills to make you into something less.

i have this problem. it’s definitely connected to my ego (whatever that is. i’m not going to get into a big ol’ discussion about what ego is, i mean, sigmund and nietzsche and other dead guys with big mustaches have beat that blanket aplenty). it’s this way of telling on myself. whenever i think i know something and i decide to let it be known, i have a tendency to attach myself to whatever it is. i become the bodyguard of my statement. i mean, it might be something like whether there is cinnamon in chai tea and i’ll be all ready to defend my position. of course a lot of this goes on in my head, but i can feel myself getting all puffed up over being the person that is “correct” in the statement. and the real truth is, it really never matters…ever, like never ever. if i’m right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. my opinion is a product of my brain, it is issued in word form out my mouth. it is usually gleaned from somewhere else and then pruned and made into my own. if there was no one around to hear it, it would just float off into the flocks of other opinions. sometimes my opinions change completely, they are unpredictable and erratic. they’re good for coloring a conversation, as long as i keep them dressed in humble attire. oh but my opinions like to dress up in suits and dresses and fancy trappings, they love being looked at and adored. the more i allow them this, the less they are worth. it’s a problem. i deal daily.

but outside of this stuff, outside of opinions and googling, on the better side of self, are the things that really happen. i see these epiphanies that people have about being more healthy after going into the ocean. or lying with their bare skin against the earth. or taking care of a tree. all this is real, it’s just hard to do it from inside a house or a car or an office building. the ocean, sky, rivers, mountains, deserts, winds, gullies, plains, draws, ridge lines, forests, meadows, saddles, canyons and star sprent heavens are ours to attend. they are ours, and in their presence we can be fixed and re-animated into the  conscious creatures that we are meant to be.  has anyone tried the door lately, it’s not locked, never has been. just a step outside the cage. one step outside.

there’s a trail in argentina that leads up from a small town. it might be a mile of uphill walking. at some point you drop off to the left and crawl through some brambles, there’s lotsa sticker bushes in patagonia, seems like things need spines to stand against the wind.  over two or three fallen trees, up a slight incline to where several magnificent granite chunks lean into one another. the opening is small, the shape, a triangle. crawl in and it opens up. you can stand in the back. the wind will never reach you here, it’s incredibly quiet. it’s the place i slept through christmas because day and night go away in there. i had a dream in this place. i was sleeping on a giant pile of bones. things were understood in that peculiar way that dreams have of allowing you to be both a participant and an observer. i could see my heart beating, it was more of a knowledge and the vibration of it beating rather than an image of a physical heart. and the vibration of my heart was dropping down through all the bones that made my bed. from down deep in that tangled white there arose a kind of smoke, twisting and looping through the delicate femurs and cages of ribs and knobby skulls. in this dream the smoke was also a sound and a smell. it was the musky sweat of the huemul and the distant thunder of quanaco hooves and rhea toes. i could feel the strange harmonics in the lungs of the pumas and the mewing of the tiniest vertebrates. i woke from that dream with a feeling that didn’t leave me for days, it was something that made me want to keep my mouth shut for once in my life. one thing i remember most of all, when i woke, i turned a headlamp on and i was facing the cave wall. i looked down into the years of sticks and duff and could see a bit of white. i dug down and pulled up the perfect spine and skull of a rabbit long gone. or maybe not gone at all. maybe nothing is ever really gone.