tobias crabtree

defining lines; drawing and writing

Tag: write

then comes oldness

i heard this old guy talking on a copied cd. his name was bill keys and i happen to know a little bit about him from having wandered in the desert where he wandered. i’ve probably stepped into bill key’s footsteps more than once. there are some geographic features in the high desert near joshua tree, california that are named after him. he was cool. i got my hands on that old cd and i listened to him talk about life and death. he was a philosopher but i’m sure he’d have said he was just a fella living out his days. it was apparent that he’d been alone for a long time. his wife died out in that desert and he lived the rest of his life never too far from her grave. he spoke of the stars as points of light and he talked about the world as if it was a giant crystal. he was born in that time when the cowboys were a dying breed. he was a cowboy and he was as wild as the ground he walked upon. i loved hearing ol’ bill speak of the ways of things. just imagine the changes he saw; from horseback cattle runs to skies full of jets and rockets.

i know that desert. i’ve slept in it and started my morning fires to make my coffee. i’ve walked miles and miles, from rock pile to rock pile. i’ve seen the green mojave rattlers and their dangerous look. i’ve found old treasures in hidden spots. i’ve loved women from the desert who were as pretty as the blooming cacti…and just as spiny. the desert…it’s a wild place that’ll give you wrinkles overnight. 

and speaking of wrinkles, i remember seeing them when i was a kid and loving them. i wanted them. all them lines in my grampa’s face! i thought crazy things as a kid. i thought that having grey hair meant you’d be smart and that wrinkles made you tough. good grief, i know it doesn’t work like that…not at all. one day i was fishing for crawdads in the creek behind the house, mom was calling me home for dinner, and the next day i was 45! i mean, what the hell happened?! i looked in the mirror this morning and saw these wrinkled eyes and a grey beard. the funniest part of it is that i’m still that same kid i was when i had those crazy notions. the only explanation is that oldness came. it comes for us all (thank goodness). we have choices to make along with it’s arrival: love it and navigate gracefully, or live in denial. 

the former is a grand adventure, the latter is misery.

so, to the ones who’ve gone before, nicely done. to the youngsters, i say, love your footsteps and love your breath and love your heart, you’ll do just fine. who knows, maybe you’ll find me making coffee at a little fire in the distance.

writing is dying

i spend a decent amount of time in caves. i sleep there to remember. i spent more than a month in a little cave in patagonia in southern argentina several years ago, that was the year i lost track of my days and missed christmas. caves are one of our oldest forms of shelter; they are probably where we worked out the riddle of fire. i know it’s where i work out riddles like, “why didn’t she stay with me”, and, “how will i ever afford that”, and, “where did i put that spoon”. people wrote on cave walls. i’ve laid on my back and looked at pictures that were a form of writing. there’s one cave down there with drawings painted onto the wall of animals that are extinct running next to men with sticks…someone told me that drawing is 8,000 years old.

stories that are told. stories that are written.

i write. i still write into a book that has a binding and real pages. i also write here, on this screen and i tap letters out and push “save” and “publish”.  the other day i was trying to write, which usually includes a whole lot of brow furrowing and chin scratching, and one of my friends asked me what i was doing. i’m writing, i said. for what? he said. it’s a blog, i said. then the response…oh yeah, the response:

isn’t a blog for people who need attention? hey, look at me! look at me!

i closed up shop. it’s difficult as it is to write anything worth reading. i wrote one of my friends and told her about it all. she’s a writer, one of my favorite authors, and her advice was pure and sound. you see, i wrote words to her and she wrote words back. my words explained my insecurities and she understood them. she wrote words back and they encouraged me and helped me feel better.

words that are written. words that are understood.

i listened to an old author (she was 90 something years old) being interviewed on the radio. she had just finished her final novel and the book was considered her best ever. i don’t remember who was interviewing her, it might have been terry gross, but the author was asked if she would write another book. her response was, “darlin’, i just wrote the book of my life. if i ever write again, it will be in stone with a hammer and a chisel.” she believed in writing! she was writing way before Lol’s and Omg’s and Lmao’s. she wrote before turning a page meant pushing a button or dragging a finger across a screen; turning a page meant reaching up with your hand and using your fingers to pinch the corner of a sheet of paper and turning it and, wa-la! a new page! she wrote and she wrote slow, long hand. i love that.

i have been drawing pictures my entire life. my granny encouraged me to do it and i still listen to her advice. i like drawing on paper. i like the erasure marks and the sketch lines. i like imperfection and it’s a good thing because i am imperfect…sure as hell. i have decided to continue to write (hold your applause, please) even if it’s already been written better by someone else. i will write like i draw, with erasure marks and mumbling and bad grammar. it didn’t stop the writers in the caves and so i follow in their honor.

and blazing suns and crescent moons and barking dogs will have a voice and it will be my pen. long live the hearts that tell the stories.

flowers with teeth

my friend sent me a poem. it was about purpose and loss of purpose. it was about losing your way and forgetting where you’ve come from.  it spoke of rivers and oceans and forests and fins and shells and teeth. it pointed it’s quiet finger at me much like the silent stars remind me to shut my mouth. that friend, who is a buddhist, is at a retreat where he is looking inward so that he can see out. i want to see in and farther out too.

last night i slept at an ex-lover’s house. i was in love with her when she lost her twin babies at birth and i saw her cry tears that men do not…cannot know. i still feel her sadness all these years later, especially that one day in august. i think of it now and then and it makes me explore places in my own busted up heart that may have never been found had it not been for her terrible loss. it’s like a door that was opened by the suffering of another. 

i heard a fella singing about his gay uncle and how he didn’t know what that meant when he was little. and he talks about wondering whether he was gay or not and, my god, he spells it out! all the misconceptions. all the rules and the notions.  he shoots arrows from a righteous bow and they cut through bigotry and hatred and, godamn, if they don’t hit the heart. what is up with us humans and our limits to love? i must live with my heart and so must we all. can we not leave love to grow on it’s own? i can.

while the politicians smile and lie and while the pro athlete’s hit home runs and dunk and score goals…and while the rich folk buy vacation homes and talk about “going green” and while i type words onto my cool little computer there are women who are losing babies, there are babies without mothers, there are limbless warriors and innocent prisoners, there are lost and homeless, there are moaning whales and treeless forests and poisoned rivers.  we humans have a knack for heartbreak, especially our own. 

and if you find yourself heartless, purposeless…here’s some unprofessional advice:

go out and sleep under the stars…just go. lay your heart down against the earth, even if you are a politician…especially if you are a politician. love the unloved. walk into the ocean, take the long way, and breathe.  listen to the wind in the trees in the park. help the helpless. look at the rocks and find a small one that calls you, put it in your pocket and remember where you came from, whatever that means to you. put your hate away. close your eyes, feel your blood in your veins, open your heart. plant. turn your car off. laugh and mean it. open up like a flower…and show your teeth.

come on, give it a try. i do. i’m out there in the wind for sure.