I awoke in my St. Paul bed this morning for the first time in a while, having spent Tuesday through Saturday nights at the cabin with "the boys."
It took more stretching than normal just to achieve a somewhat teetering verticality. The deuce I dropped was more of a 2.75, a testament to far greater than normal consumptive activity over a period of days. As I biked to work on yet another gray, cool, misty day it was clear that I was carrying an extra spare tire. My legs felt fine, probably because my biking muscles hadn't been used much in the last week. But the Hemmingway (3 pounds) Short Story had cut my wind a bit.
And I felt great. Because I knew that the extra pounds and the slight physical ravages of overeating and being slightly "overserved" with beer, wine and even a cigar or two will wear off quickly. But the effect on my spirit of those spirited days in the woods will wear off only slowly, if at all.
It's quite a blessing to be regularly surrounded by such close friends. Kate calls us (affectionately) the "frat boys." And technically that is true. There is a common bond there, and the "frat" is clearly some small part of that. But the nine of us are anything but the homogenous and insular group that the phrase "frat boys" suggests to my ear. In fact, much of the strength of this group lies in its ability to disagree on issues while respecting one another. To enjoy the process. We have as much trouble resolving questions as any other group. But we have no trouble laughing or seeing the humor in things. And I think we listen to one another more than is obvious at the time.
I'm sure that is the reason that I was so taken with Rachel Remen's statement, "After all these years I have begun to wonder if the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company." For at our best that is what we do. True, we can make both U.S. energy policy and the rules of "two paulina bocce ball" into unanswerable questions. That too is some of the fun, at least for me.
Maybe it's that our times together are as close as I get to living in the moment. This is in no sense a reunion - reliving past glories, real and imagined. Nor is it a group focused on the future (though I do dream of someday regaining the coveted maroon jacket which I imagine is even now being ameliorated with a tasteful "Bag Daddy" over the lapel, and part of me is always looking forward to our next get together). It's a gathering of friends. Growing in those friendships. In the present. As the Buddhists and everyone in the daily sauna would say, "chopping wood, carrying water."