Honk as you drive by if you happen to see an old guy with a beard walking along the side of the road and you’re in too big a hurry to stop and offer him a ride.
It doesn’t matter, he’s on that road and many others anyway, maybe looking for the “last train to Dublin,” which was the last line of a book I read years ago, the title of which I can’t for the life of me remember.
But for some reason locked away in the deepest recesses of subconscious mystery that line has been engraved in my memory ever since I read it in a previous life. Not really; I take some poetic licence there, just for a little fun. But it struck a note, I guess, like that wonderful moment about three minutes into Prokoviev’s 9th piano sonata that surpasses all understanding. I could lose myself in it.
I’ve said I’ll never leave this place, this “little piece of paradise,” I’ve heard it called, including by that couple from India who got lost and drove down Cathedral Drive, saw me working in the garden, and asked for directions. “You have a beautiful place here,” she said. “A little piece of paradise.” The man at the wheel nodded in agreement and smiled.
“Yes,” I said.
I imagine Tolstoy might have said that too in response to a similar comment from visitors arriving at his estate in their carriages as he worked cutting grain alongside his peasants in a field near his house.
“Yes,” he would have said, keeping it simple, not wanting to break his rhythm, and most of all enjoying the moment as he watched his newly sharpened blade cutting wonderfully clean, the grain falling back nicely into a good pile for pick-up and swathing.
Yes, he would have said; and yes again.
I suppose anything can happen though. The balance of a man’s mind, heart, and soul is a delicate thing after all; and then age comes along one day out of the blue, people start calling you “sir,” and saying things like, “Can I help you with that, sir?”
No matter that you’re still a boy full of dreams at heart, and if need be you can still lift, well, half your weight anyway; but something is slipping away. And then strange things can happen, and maybe one day you feel a great need to go looking for . . .
And if your name, again, is Tolstoy, they find you sitting in a train station. “Were you waiting for a train?” someone asks.
I’m not sure, you say. Something.
So, yes, someday I may leave this “little piece of paradise” though the sign where Cathedral Drive begins still says, “No Exit.”
There is no train anywhere near, so you may see me walking along the side of the road, of many roads, in search of that eternal station, in hopes of catching “the last train to Dublin.”
Honk if you see me. Tell them later I smiled, and that I was okay, and not to worry.
Oh, and tell them I said, “Yes.”