As some of you know, I’ve spent the last year of my life living at a small establishment in Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument called Lincoln, working there for the Oregon Extension and for two nonprofit organizations called Wild Hope and Soda Mountain Wilderness Council (don’t be too impressed — it only came to a little less than full time work). It was a beautiful place populated by beautiful people and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be there (you can see photo-documentation of the monument surrounding Lincoln at the project site of Steven and Anna Maria Johnson, two Lincoln residents).
The title of this post is the title of a playlist I made recently — it came to me as the result of an attempt to capture in only a few words the essence of this moment in my life. Toward the end of my time at Lincoln I started sitting on my porch in the evenings, looking out over the stable and the wetland behind my apartment as the world around me grew dark. Twilight is a restful time, and I grew to enjoy reflecting on the time I’d spent at Lincoln and the changes taking place around me — both in my immediate surroundings and in the broader context of my life. Out of those moments I have just recently come to understand this bigger moment as a sort of twilight.
My year at lincoln was, to extend my metaphor, a day filled with many joys and also many sorrows. The place I lived was a wonderful gift, as were the people who live there, but for one reason or another I found myself at times throughout feeling very alone. It was an odd thing to experience, and I’ve not yet wrapped my head around it, but nevertheless I’m grateful. Now I’m watching the world grow dark around me — not in the sense that the word “dark” is often applied, but in something else that feels more unique to myself.
I’m watching the world change. I’ve just left a work situation that lasted for a little less than ten months — one of the longer commitments I’ve held since leaving home at the end of high school. I’m preparing to be away from my good friend and significant other Talia Sheets, who by now has shared many wonderful meals, road trips, and momentous thoughts with me. I’m preparing to leave the world I’ve known for the first time to experience another I’ve never witnessed — and this last is perhaps the most significant. The world is growing dark around me, and the morning is coming.
I am terribly excited and terribly afraid to get on the airplane tonight. I have no idea what is to come. I’ve never left the country and I can feel in my gut the lack of knowledge, the blindness of what is ahead. And it is a beautiful blindness. I am so excited to open my eyes in Asunción and be confronted with impossible novelty. Twilight; morning comin’.
I’ve written here about the beginning of this venture, as though it hasn’t already begun for me — that would be misleading. Abe, Michael, Levi and I will be riding out of Asunción next Wednesday (fingers crossed!) prepared to fall freely into the arms of a stranger — hoping desparately to fall into the arms of a stranger, really. Our whole attempt is predicated on the generosity of others, and our ability to see it, receive it well, and acknowledge in our hearts our vulnerability and the complete impossibility of reciprocity.
To that end I give my thanks to those who have already helped me along the way. Jeff and Jean Gilmore, residents of the Green Springs in Ashland, Oregon, have been unbelievable helpers in my preparations for this journey, and have become my friends. Thanks! The residents of Lincoln, too, have been wonderfully supportive — in particular Talia and I are indebted to Phil Kling for his generous lending/donation of a car-top carrier in which we put our blasphemous amount of stuff for the drive to San Diego. I couldn’t have gotten to this point without gainful employment, and for that I’m grateful to Dave Willis, director of Wild Hope and Soda Mountain Wilderness Council. And, of course, I’m grateful to my family who, through their initial (and sustained) disbelief have encouraged me in my efforts to get to Asunción — I’m particularly thankful to my mother Tonia for her thoughtful sending of materials that will be very helpful on our journey. Thanks to Talia’s parents Robbin and Rachel for an excellent American send-off: they took us to the Old Spaghetti Factory and a Padres baseball game last night. Finally many thanks to Talia for putting up with me and being super-stoked about the trip with me.