On the Way to WorkRichard Soberpaintings

Walter Cronkite’s Tears

Disorientation follows euphoria driving in eastern Colorado. Sometimes, too many ideas contaminate the field. What is this place you cannot see that feels so much like driving through eastern Colorado in early May when snow falls on ground that wants to grow, so unfamiliar and vast like an ocean, just like people saw forever ago? No direction home, no direction anywhere. A vague, continuous fear never stops on the shoulder of the road. That’s what it felt like when my wife collapsed under a juniper not much higher than a sage, in the hot sun, dehydrated, out of breath, pained, perspiring, depleted of energy. The landscape was bathed in late afternoon summer light, gentle hills gradually descending into a canyon splitting a whole vast plateau in half. A country can suffocate you in a second, inject unexpected catastrophe, take you in a rush of unwanted possibilities, run backwards, lose you in an expansive sea of not knowing how much snow will fall, as temperatures drop and a steady wind blows down from the north though it is May. Experience tells you that what you see in front of your eyes can’t be real though it is and no matter how many times before, this moment arrives dressed like terror and loneliness, it is always the first time. It rises in your chest and arteries, it sends your body back to you with almost unrecognizable skin, with the utmost skill. Adjacent to this episode is a collective anxiety that carries everyone with it, determines our behavior, our decisions, our perceptions of what is or is not happening, a collective inability to know what exactly is happening or is going to happen, if what one hears and sees is real or only what we are anticipating because keeping score is almost impossible; an art form made for those who are no longer truly alive. Anger, masking fear, restlessness mistaken for living free, hallucinations mistaken for lifetimes of keen observation. Everything does not come to a stop. but turns a corner as if experience is bending the ability to adapt to different circumstances, bending lives to extreme limits. I would give almost anything around about now to retrieve Walter Cronkite’s tears, to find them as intact as the moment they slid down his face, to find them preserved like love and memory, inside imagination’s heart, to retrieve them from a place that is no place anymore, to remind myself that nothing ever remains as it was. Even when something appears to be as one first laid eyes upon it, everything is gone, even as we reach down into the night to find that special moment that almost wakes us up.