There are no hills where I write, or very few. This is farmland. We have tall trees, oak and sycamore, beech and birch, mostly with their casual droppings, ringed by pines, hordes of cedar, that have remained over the years surviving the winds. Unlike you, so calm, I often feel like running out into that forest and finding a place to hide—or perhaps hang myself—for my consistent failures, my growing failures as a writer. As life is drawing to a close, I am only losing faculties that I could have depended upon before: memory, sensitivities. Even, if one could define it so easily, care. A concern for doing the work, for seeing it done. “Life is too important to take seriously,” Oscar Wilde said. And what is our life but our writing?
Each morning and evening I walk out among the “critters” as the locals call the animals and as I have come to refer to them as well. “Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap...” I am no Christian, but there is much to that. Watching them as I spread seed and other “vittles” for their daily meals I wonder if there is any possibility they are “happier” for what I am doing? Do they “care” if I feed them? Every so often a bird will fly into a window and on occasion hit so badly it will ultimately die. Odds are these crashes increase because of my feeding. Should I stop, then? What of their lives? Too important to take seriously?
I stopped eating meat so long ago I cannot remember the taste of it although I still recall liking it, just as I recall liking cigarettes (which today make me choke if I am anywhere near them). Am I a better person for any of that? What have I accomplished? What have I added to the world? If I published another poem—another essay, another novel... If I wrote another word, would it change anything, affect anything. Not even in a meaningful way, but anything at all?
Even when you cannot, even when you feel you cannot, if it is your nature you must. Even if in the end, during your lifetime, it ends up meaning nothing to anyone, not even yourself, you must still do it. Like the birds of the heavens, like the lilies of the field, we have our nature. And even when we crash into windows, it is our nature to fly.