We are torn between anxiety and hope, wondering what that is precious today will have value tomorrow. It’s a bad time. But I am reminded of something Rilke once said: no poet would really mind going to jail, since he would at last be in a position to plunder the treasure-house of his memories unhindered. In that spirit, I think it’s time for a parlor game with a difference. Let’s plunder our memories together, and string together our favorite anecdotes like pearls.
I get to start.
While walking in the woods one day, in the hills behind his monastery, my friend and I came upon a single volume of an encyclopedia lying neatly closed on the ground. I opened the front cover and found a map of the United States. As always when I look at maps, I sought and found the tiny spot in Northern California where two rivers join and a small cabin stands among the Douglas firs. I placed my finger on it. “If I could be anywhere in the whole world right now,” I said, “I would be there.”
He took the book from my hands and peered at the map. “If I could be anywhere,” he replied, “I would be right here.” And he placed his finger on the spot where the woods grew thick behind his monastery, on just the sort of hillside where a person might leave a neatly closed encyclopedia.
Tell me a story about monasteries, hiking, encyclopedias, maps, or cabins, or any other matter touched on above.