This is the first installment of a new series. The Mountain Dude, some readers may recall, made a few enigmatic appearances in JJ in the 21st Century. Let’s pick up his story…
After I left that troubled man, I resumed my walking. First to the food store for a big bag of almonds and apricots. That’s my walking food.
The girl behind the counter needed a little nudge. “It’s okay,” I told her. “To want things.”
“But it feels so shallow,” she said, tearing up a little.
“It’s only shallow if you make the things you want too precious.”
She sniffled and looked into my eyes. “Thank you,” she said.
It’s a gift and a curse, this knowing what people need, this sensitivity. I’m not always nice about it either. I told a guy last week that his loud obnoxious muscle truck couldn’t compensate for his lack of, ahem, physical intimacy. “You’re really lonely,” I said. “You need to connect.”
“Fuck you,” he said.
People call me the Mountain Dude and I’ve started to think of myself that way too. I do a lot of walking, but not just in the mountains. I walk on the streets, on the highways, through fields and over hills. I walk in the city and the country. I try to avoid the suburbs. I walk in the wilderness and sometimes I walk on water.
Just kidding. I’m not that kind of walker.
A therapist once called me a “holy fool” saying I’m a type of person who has a lofty set of principles that are out of step with those of the regular culture. The therapist said, “the holy fool is usually naïve about the ways of the real world.”
I am not naïve about the ways of the real world. Have you looked around? The level of self-centeredness, self-promotion, self-congratulation? We are infected with multiple terminal cancers and we call that normal.
Don’t get me going.
All I try to do is break the endless cycle of rumination that infects most people in our country. That’s the level of involvement that works for me. I can’t stay in one place because I will hate or love, or hate AND love everyone nearby.
And I can’t keep my mouth shut. So I keep moving.
Sometimes though I encounter a person over and over again, in different places, at different stages of their own journey. “Are you real?” they ask.
Yes, I’m real.
Take that tortured bastard I just left in the park. I saw him in New England several times. A big ruminator, that guy. Then I saw him in a bar here in Colorado, about to get his ass kicked. I ushered him out and sat with him until he came to.
I think he’s going to be all right, but you never know. I may see him again someday.
I may see you someday, too.