Enshrouded in mist and mystery, removed physically and temporally, the stone hut holds promise and my future. I have never been there, but I cannot unsee it. The cool touch of the walls sends shivers up my spine, the rustling wind blasts back my hair each time the vision comes. To visit my final resting place, I only need to tune into the rhythms of my heart, the waves of my brain, the inevitability of my journey.
For someone who believed that they knew their calling at a very young age, the subsequent decades failed mightily to connect me to the destiny of my seemingly preordained profession. Doubt, frustration, rage, boredom, anxiety, stress, a host of other emotions all conspired to place both boulders and pebbles in my path. Terrified of being swept up in the destructive flow of the legal system, I have done my best to swim against the current, to tire myself to the point that I am occasionally almost washed ashore or out to sea.
There were many moments when I would have chosen to do anything else with my life. Now, I am acutely aware that there is nothing else that I am supposed to be doing. There are easier jobs, there are vocations less stressful, there are more fun careers. But none of them are mine and there is peace in that knowledge, calm in the acceptance of my place in the world. To solve problems is more than my calling, it is the organizing principle of my existence.
Assuming that I keep my sanity and do not suffer any catastrophic head injuries, which are optimistic assumptions given my predilection toward wildness and danger, there is no reason that I cannot be rendering advice and dispensing wisdom until I take my last breath. Indeed, with each passing moment, the accumulated experience continues to build the efficacy of my service to others. Certainly, as the years truck onward, I enjoy the connection, the work, even the turmoil that much more.
Mine is a not an endeavor from which I feel that I could ever retire. I may choose to stop accepting payment, I may not devote all of my time to the cause, but I struggle to imagine not being at the intersection of a conflict, at the side of someone in trouble, speaking the perpetual voice of reason. The realization is both yoke and helium, the burden and lightness that forms my essential dichotomy.
There is a connection between my contemporary self and a wizened, wrinkled, white-bearded hermit domiciled in a rock structure high on a mountaintop. They are both me. The former is still accumulating psychological and intellectual resources; the latter is the apotheosis, the logical conclusion, the fortuitous fate. Thanks to Kodak, I know what I looked like at birth. Thanks to the pulsing vivacity of my imagination and the starkness of my purpose, I know what I will look like when the clock stops ticking.
Situated on a rocky promontory, my future abode is challenging to access. Yet, pulled by a deep need and guided by the vague whispers of those that have visited before, people will tread the uneven ground to my simple wooden door seeking answers to questions that are still half-formed. Offering them tea, rest from their exertion, and an equanimous smile, I will welcome their inquiries. With a patience that they will attribute to my advanced age, but is borne of a finally-achieved peace, I will provide answers, sometimes even to questions unasked. It is the fulfillment of a life’s work, an intangible legacy of aid and assistance that will outlast my corporeal form.
I look forward to seeing you at my final office, many moons hence. Until that rendezvous, I have much living and learning and failing to do before I can ascend to that exalted perch.