I had the opportunity to visit a friend in Montana a few months back. It wasn’t as much of a planned visit as it was a desperate attempt by my friends to bring a sense of self back into my life. My friend and co-editor of Stoneboat Literary Journal simply said to me one day, “I’m taking you to see Jim.” Although I missed him terribly since he moved a few months earlier, I fully intended to not go. But friends can be very persuasive.
Within a few days I was packed inside of Signe’s ’96 Buick LeSabre headed west, scared out of my mind.
Traveling cross country was something I’d never done before. I recall leaving the boundaries of Wisconsin once or twice before, but never for a significant trip. And while the trip was incredible, this isn’t about that. This is about a night when I realized I couldn’t catch my thoughts.
While exploring my friend’s property located in a relatively remote area just outside of Missoula, I noticed a bat drop to flight from an opening in a clapboard. Then I saw another, and another. Dozens of these furry winged creatures emerged from the house, living just inches above the guest room where I slept. This was a problem in need of a solution.
Jim and I fashioned a mesh screen funnel the next day from which the bats could safely escape but be unable to reenter. We wouldn’t know if our engineering would succeed or fail until that evening.
At dusk we set up camp to await their emergence. We set up chairs, poured cocktails, and I strapped on my banjo–a little pre-show entertainment. One by one they began to crawl from attic entrance, at first impeded by the funnel, but gravity did its job and they dropped out harmlessly. We counted them–5, 10, 20, 50, 90, 100–128 in all.
We waited to see if they could get back to their squatters ground, but we were successful. Echolocation was their ultimate demise, unable to penetrate the precise point from which they nightly emerged. Jim and Signe returned to the house, but I remained, probably unable to right myself after one too many cocktails.
I sat upon an old redwood bench, bats swarming inches around my head, unable to find their home just feet away. They were close enough to touch, but I wasn’t able to. I couldn’t simply reach out and pluck one from flight. They were there, yet I couldn’t grasp one. I realized that was the way I felt about my thoughts.
I see thoughts and ideas flying around my head every day–all day, all night–yet I often can’t grasp them. It’s frustrating to say the least, and perhaps a reason for attempts at taking my own life. I not only need to snatch these metaphorical bats from my mind but figure out what to do with them once captured. I believe this to be an important step in my six month journey.
Perhaps these thoughts, these bats in my head are the answers I need to live. So I will slowly pluck and, as has been suggested, set goals on how to achieve Life with a capital “L” within my six month deadline.
Waiting for the bats