She said I had a “distinct lack of vision for the future.” Maybe I had imagined “distinct,” channeling some ancient jargon on my elementary school report card, a long-lasting impression of shame I’d applied to myself as a functional adult. This was my friend who told me this, my best friend—who suffers from no lack of vision for the future—and it’s telling that I took her words and turned them motherly, matronly, the words of a disciplinarian.
There’s been a lack of discipline in my life, too, and a lack of authority figures—in the end, though, the blame falls on me. Self-sufficiency has taken on a new form in our generation, or maybe just a new form here: barely self-sufficient, barely getting by. But people seem to know to leave well enough alone. The real adults keep an arm’s length because they can see too closely the melancholy of their recent past, and the bums like me stay in their barely functional places: aloof from society, skating by. It could be because of my lack of initiative; because I am an automaton, a toy train to be placed on a track and chug along. It’s my worst fault: dependability.
It’s winter time in the mountains, and I am sick. I had looked forward to this time forever; my first real winter, my first snow. I had visions of myself raging with a fire combusting within, sitting in pools of icy water for fortification, cheeks frosty red because I was flushed with life. But my body and my mind seem to be at odds; the things that I’ve fancied good for myself, those things beckoning towards a type of “vision,” are destroying me. Though I cling to an ideal of inner strength, any action arising from that space will inevitably shut me down. All the days I’ve spent fulfilling myself in the mountains bring me reeling to the ground the next day, frail from overexertion and incapable of recovery. I work and I work because it is the ostensible right thing to do, but the soullessness of it all and the persistent symptoms of my sickness constitute almost an outright rejection. The best step toward the future, at times, seems to be to just quit—all the reasons why I came here in the first place totally dropped; all the things that make me happy, all the noble work, just gone.
The body and the mind, that thing which analyzes the faint impressions of the soul, at odds. Since a contradiction can’t be the basis of a decision, I’ll keep chugging, locked into my void of a track, until something more convincing comes along. When she says I have a lack of vision for the future, she’s right. Nothing makes sense; only the contradictions, which say that the best thing for my future is to abolish it.
There are two mountains that I look at every day. Mt. Tom is enormous, prominent, dominating the mountain range in which it sits. Basin is also enormous, but it sits next to and behind Mt. Tom, second fiddle. My eye, from the very first time I visited the boulderfields splayed out at its feet, was immediately drawn to Basin. My gaze traced the jagged ridgeline; it meandered up the immense glacial plain and found its home in the vast hollow from which the mountain draws its name. Basin is completely covered in snow, now. Its character lies in its empty space, and it is very, very cold.
My ultimate survival depends on warmth and substance, but in this season—compared to the paragons of vision and character that I admire—I am hollow, and inside I am cold. Visions of the future, movement and motivation, are for fiery animals made of flesh and blood. But the beauty of natural phenomena is that their final shape is a reflection of nature; the forces and processes that have created them comprise the entirety of their substance. Eventually, I will return to clarity and warmth. But for now, I will persist and I will endure the storms of winter; my final form will be dictated by the wind and rain.