July 19 (1976, 1982, 1985)
Life's Tragic Aspects ~ And Wrens

7/19/76 ~ early morning in canyonland… i have been noticing bewicks wrens around the rock outcrops and yesterday heard a rock wren singing. or canyon wren?”

[Russell Towle's journal]

7/19/82   Just before dawn. Today Michael Onewing and I have a date to hike to Green Valley. [...] Perhaps we'll go to Giant Gap, to the great cliff-bound pools of Giant Gap.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Dear Diary:

Life is tragic by its very nature. I discovered that a long time ago; it does not preclude the enjoyment of life, or the attainment of substantial happiness, but it does ensure that any given person will eventually lose and/or be lost to the ones he or she loves. Today has been a day when life's tragic aspects have weighed more heavily upon me than usual, and I feel the pinch of loneliness all too sharply.

Now it is the sunset hour. Beautiful clouds grace the sky, and I am fixing quesadillas for my dinner. I have no one to talk to, no one to touch or hold or be touched or held by, and I am consumed with thoughts about the loss of our natural and recreational resources here in California. The great god, Profit, has held sway in this state since it was founded, and only by the most rigorous and determined efforts has any of it been saved from the wrath of that horrid god.

Yesterday evening I stopped at Doc Almond's place to borrow a book he'd recommended. My first time there. If I have troubles, there is a man who has many more. he is in his sixties, a bachelor, and lives in the most decrepit pigsty I have ever seen. He has two dogs for company; cigarette butts and every imaginable kind of trash litter the floor; the walls have holes; it stinks unbelievably; and testifies to a depression so deeply entrenched that I shudder to contemplate it. He is a nice man, an intelligent man, but oh so very lonely and depressed. It is almost too horrible a situation to allow; I am tempted to inform the health and welfare authorities; but it is his choice to live in that manner. Two of his closest friends died this year, and he is sure that he will not live much longer. If that were true, he would soon be relieved of his pain and sorrow. But he well may survive for another decade. If I believed in God I'd pray. As it is, I don't know what to do except clean his house for him, which would take quite a while, and in fact would be a task without boundaries; one might as well tear the shack down and build another.

I was depressed all day. However in recent years I have learned to shrug off my moods of depression, a valuable lesson. Life goes by too quickly to indulge overmuch in such moods. I do feel that I need to make more friends, and find a lover. How and when is not clear. I am as usual in a state of severe economic deprivation; half of my income over the past year has gone into my ratty old Toyota; I can't even afford insurance; there is no money for travel, for movies, for anything except gas and quesadillas—or so it seems. The work at McClung's will not last long; I have nothing planned or lined up to keep me going from there; and so things stand on this day, the 19th of July, 1985.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

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