I HARBOR A DARK TWIN INSIDE. He’s a sun-starved, ropy bastard and he lives somewhere north of my heart. Every day he gets a little stronger. He’s a weed, he’s a creeper; he’s a series of thickening wires inside my skull.
Call him Z. I like weather; Z survives in spite of it. I like skiing; Z likes surfing the web. I like looking at trees; Z likes reading news feeds. I pull weeds in the garden; Z whispers in my ear about climate change, nuclear proliferation, ballooning health-insurance premiums.
How well Doerr captures what I’ve been struggling with over the last few days: how to pursue passions for gathering information and writing without losing myself in them; how to walk away from the seduction of the computer and internet to tune into health, joy, wildness, and beauty.
Today, even before reading his essay, I did better than usual. Snow helped; it beckoned me out of my ordinary routine. It fell all morning. Knowing I might face slush later, I didn’t dither. I told my work-obsessed twin to stuff it, pulled on my boots, grabbed some plastic bags for dog poop, and followed Django up to Mt. Tabor Park. I caught snowflakes on my tongue and watched chickadees and juncos. Django chased squirrels, an act that reminds me in these dark days of winter and a tanking economy what optimism looks like.
At some point, though, I’m going to have to spend more time on Mr. Doerr’s website. Writer in residence of the State of Idaho (who knew Idaho or any state had such a thing?), he has links to more articles and several books. I’m hungry for them all. He also has lovely line drawings and descriptions of various species. Perusing his rich site will probably eat up several hours some day. Sorry Django.