“I could say that we are released, but I don’t know, in our private night when our souls explode into a billion fragments then calmly regather in a black pool in the forest, far from the cage of flesh, the unremitting “I.” This was a dream and in dreams we are forever alone walking the ghost road beyond our lives.”
Today I learned of Jim Harrison’s death 2 days ago. Reports say he was at his desk at his small adobe home in southern Arizona, writing, and conjecture has it, had a heart attack and keeled over. If true, he will share a death like my father’s. I was not there, but my family said he was likely dead when he hit the floor in the living room of the small house in Eastpointe, Michigan he shared with mom. They were both large men, especially around the middle, and smoked heavily. My dad was 72, Mr. Harrison, 78.
I used to smoke, and used to be overweight, though not by as much as they were, and I am taller. I have gotten rid of most of the excess, and I quit smoking 12 years ago. I am now heading towards the age of 66, and I do not believe a heart attack is how I will go. But that is not what I wanted to reflect on today.
Rather I find it of some interest that for the last week or so I have been thinking of him. I left a collection of his books behind for others to read when I left Granada. I have been traveling with them in a duffle bag as part of my stuff in my Jeep as I drove around the U.S. into Mexico and out, and then back again thru Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica. I have always had lot’s of books around, and I carried them for the comfort they gave. But 6 weeks ago, I decided it was time to say goodbye to all but one, his 2002 memoir “Off To The Side”. I have also in recent weeks introduced several old and new friends to his work, posted on my FB page about him, read several recent interviews, and placed his newest works on my Kindle.
I always claim that I believe in it all. All philosophy, all science, all religion (not the act, the idea). Today I was struck by the fact that he had been so close to me in his last days. I like the feeling, though like most, I am deeply sad that there will be no more coming to us from him. But that is just being selfish. Some will say he is with his recently deceased and much loved wife, or other such things. Myself I would not say no, but neither could I say yes. And I believe that is the lesson he helped to teach me.
I thought the best way I could honor the memory of JH would be to simply go sit outside and look around. This is not hard for me, though to do it for an hour at a time is not usually what I do, and I thought at least that much for him would be appropriate. Maybe I will split it up into 15 minute segments. Or I could just put it into my daily routine forever. Yes. That sounds like a good idea.