In the image, he is on the Inca Trail, alone, a floppy hat and sunglasses, his hands resting on the top of his walking stick as he waits for me to reach him. I am wheezing from altitude dizziness as we ascend.
After all, I was maybe 15 years old, skinny and pale as pasta, my “Lord of Chaos” badge hanging crookedly from a fading Dragonslayer t-shirt. And there was Gandalf, a 280 pound beer-stinking sasquatch of a man …
I have seen years and scores of students succumb to the allure of Beavis and Butthead and Seattle grunge, Instagram and “What Does the Fox Say?”, never suspecting that Descartes’ dualism or Conrad’s “The horror” could be significant moments for true reflection.
I’ve always found power in creating story; it’s my way of creating the space I wish to inhabit.
I suppose accepting the importance of internal conflict is difficult for any American boy. After all, I was taught to be strong. To write “reflectively” about “feelings” was, in 1978, a girlie thing to do.
Fortunately, as I have found in most places I’ve visited, people are forgiving. At least they were more forgiving than myself, who could not–for years–believe he had made such a mistake.