I doubt he would ask for help.
In fact, presented with this piece, I expect to hear from him, and I’m about half convinced he will be annoyed or embarrassed and ask me to take down the post.
(And then, crap, I will have to decide whether to honor his wishes in what really is a personal matter, or … you know, help him against his will.)
I have this friend. He’s a distant friend, an Internet friend, someone I’ve met in person only once. But he’s a Friend, with a capital-F, probably even a Brother with a capital-B, because the world is a better place for having him in it. And goddammit, we need the world to be a better place.
Mainly, it’s who he is, and what he does, which is a tireless advocate for deserts who fights the good fight on a daily basis.
But it’s also his writing.
And what the hell, take a look at this, and then buy his book.
You know what it takes to write stuff like that? Not just well-above-average intelligence, but sensitivity of a sort most of us can’t really understand.
If you’re an average person, your Sensitivity Dial is set at a good solid 5. You pick up on broad hints, the world looks the way it looks to you, and it’s all pretty cool, with the occasional exception of certain disorienting occurrences such as someone close to you dying.
People look like people, animals look like animals, and life is relatively rosy for the large part of your day.
But some of us have the Sensitivity Dial cranked up to 7, or 9, or maybe even 10. Out of that level of sensitivity comes truly great Art. Music that touches you in your deepest places, legendary performances by actors and actresses.
And writing that just about blows the lid off your mind. I’m talking about words that reach down into you and find stuff there you never knew was there, and light it up for you like fireworks and rainbows and sunsets, all at once. It could be touching. It could be sad. It could be hilarious. But it’s stuff that you read and walk away from … better.
But also out of that level of sensitivity comes a certain amount of anguish.
Hmm. How can I explain it? Ah:
Say I have abnormally good hearing (I don’t, by the way), but I live with my elderly grandparents. And anytime we watch TV, they have to have the volume turned all the way up so they can hear it. But to me that hammering blare is a constant pain, so much so that I often have to leave the room to get away with it.
Which means those people with the Sensitivity Dial naturally cranked up high are Out Of The Room much of the time. We never hear from them, gifted though they be, because they experience the depth and intensity of life in ways you and I can’t, and thus, most of the time, can’t stand to be in the same room with us goddam-noisy average people.
It’s only when you get someone with the Dial turned up high, but who also cultivates the ability to tolerate our crashing, thundering average selves for certain lengths of time, and who ALSO has the gift of communicating through some field of Art (or Science, come to think of it), that we hear from them. They become those legendary contributors to civilization. Or those silent, non-public bright sparks who illuminate the lives of the people in their immediate circle. Or maybe something in between.
But we all benefit from them being in the world with us. They carry the weight of seeing, and creating, and intensely feeling, and just everyday humane humanness, with rare strength and grace, in ways the rest of us might not even notice, but that MATTERS. Because most of us can’t do it, and because somebody has to.
Chris recently moved to Palm Springs, in the midst of his beloved desert, and … well, as he relates on Facebook:
RIP The Zheep, 1992-2012, stolen tonight for the second time in two weeks and totaled. True to the kind and generous nature it inherited from Sherwood and Diane, its last act was to save the life of the jerk that stole it, ran it into a lamppost while running away from cops, and rolled it. It was a noble machine and it deserved a better end …
After seeing what people were willing to do when I needed to get to the hospital bedside of my dying Dad, I wonder … can that lightning of human goodness strike one more time? For someone who probably deserves it more than me?
Anyway … Hey you!
Millionaire with an extra twenty grand or so lying around!
Give it to Chris. Seriously.
Billionaire with a spare Jeep in your collection!
Send it to Chris.
Lover of good writing, wilderness advocate who wishes he/she could do more and is willing to support someone who DOES, or just plain caring person who knows a quality human being when he/she sees one, and can spare a bit to help that person out …
Donate to Chris.
Do it via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org or click the button:
Chris, I’m sending you $50. Wish it was more.
NOTE: If you have any problems with the above button (it’s Chris’s account/button, by the way, and not mine; I got it from him — yes, I realized I HAD to talk to him at some point and tell him what I was doing — after my original attempt to direct readers to a donation link wasn’t working), go directly to his blog, Coyote Crossing, and you’ll see his “Tip Jar” box on the right column. Click that, and you’ll get the PayPal donation form.