Epilogue to the Saga of Supermule, or Confessions of a Teetotaler
Those who don’t know me well, sometimes accuse me of being a puritan. I rarely drink. I haven’t smoked a cigarette since I was twelve. I don’t use drugs or have any interest in them. Indeed, I’m leery of bandwagons and cults of any kind. Yet my physical needs are enormous; I need forests, mountains, running water (rivers of it), the sun, the moon, the wind and things like that. I enjoy simple living and find solace in solitude. I believe in harmony, understanding, kindness . . . not much else. If I am able in some way to help other people, I do so because I enjoy it and because I need and welcome the warmth of human response which so often returns.
I have no other desire in life than to live fully, and I have found that, for me, this means trying to relate as positively as I can to all which surrounds me and matters to me. There is nothing I enjoy more than trees, beetles, children and lovely things in general; and if I devote part of my life to caring for these, it is because I find gladness and fulfillment in so doing.
Heaven forbid that I be a puritan! A purist, perhaps, but not a puritan. A puritan is one who negates the joys of this life to prepare for living it up in the next. I look forward to no other life than this one and would drink it in, and its joys, to the dregs. I would miss nothing. This earth, this universe, contain such an infinitude of marvels to explore, to unravel, to embrace, that I often wish I were three persons at once, to do all I long to do before these bones go brittle and collapse.
This universe contains such an infinitude of marvels to explore, to unravel, to embrace, that I often wish I were three persons at once
Yes, I am a purist: I will take my life straight, thank you. I will not water it down with alcohol or any other drug. I will not coat my lungs with tobacco tar nor loose the scent of pine woods from my lips. I will keep my mind and senses as sharply tuned as I can to all tunes. I will keep this grossly imperfect body of mine as strong and nearly sound as I am able, as quick and supple as the years and fates permit . . not because I worship it . . . Heaven forbid . . . but because this meager body and the mind it sustains are the best tools I have to explore and delight in the vast, beautiful, physical world. I will run mountain trails, chop firewood, chase fireflies and keep my muscles and heart as hardy as I can.
Physically, I am unwhole, and I have reluctantly come to accept this. I have fairly well learned to compensate for the deteriorating muscles in my hands and lower legs and function tolerably well, if awkwardly, in most activities. Yet I envy, I marvel, at the youth who is complete—the command of his body and limbs, the grace and strength of his movements, the sculpture of his form, the soundness and uniqueness of his entirety. At their best, the human body and mind are magnificent. They are irreplaceable treasures. If I had my druthers, I would see the wits and senses of every man, woman and child kept as keen, clean and alert as possible, never dulled and insulted needlessly. To me it seems the bitterest shame, the most flagrant waste, that someone with a sound body and mind should squander this wealth. It wrings my soul to see young people I have fostered and loved, carelessly fall into patterns which weaken or neglect their physical and/or mental endowments. I marvel that so many good people find me strange for feeling what I feel as strongly as I do . but perhaps only one who is born defective can fully appreciate the glory of being whole.