I like to step onto the trail with a question. As we hike, Micah and I consider every possible twist and turn until we land on something that feels like an answer, a way through. Recently, while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, we contemplated a possible creative venture for Micah. Should he or shouldn't he begin making and selling cigar box guitars?
We entered a valley at the foot of majestic mountain peaks and wondered whether or not his cigar box guitar idea was a realistic proposition. What tools would he need? Where would he make these guitars? Our garage is tight on space and frigid nine months out of the year. It's not exactly the ideal space for creating something that supposed to produce music to the ears. And he's not a carpenter, so there was the question of whether or not he's got the skills to transform scrap wood and used cigar boxes into bonafide guitars.
We wound our way up rocky switchbacks and then into a fairy-like forest. I half expected to see red-capped mushrooms and gnomes. There were Monarch butterflies and wispy yellow flowers that almost certainly transform into sprites by the light of the moon. The mountains are the perfect habitat for unearthing answers.
I recalled the last time we were in the park. A young woman came bounding toward us, exclaiming "Is that a moose? Is that a moose?" Her boyfriend trailed behind her. She was practically breathless as she told us how she's always wanted to see a moose. We followed her finger to see a large animal standing on the edge of a marshy pond in the distance. "Probably not. You usually don't see moose in the middle of the day. It looks like an elk," we said matter of factly. But as we moved closer we discovered, that why yes, it was a moose! The mountains are the perfect habitat for seeking. And finding.
Micah and I continued on. He confessed to me he's felt a growing desire to make something with his hands. And, like that, we knew he had to make cigar box guitars.
Desire is an improbable answer. It's just a feeling, after all. Tell someone you have an idea and they'll understand you, maybe even admire you as an enterprising individual. Say you have a desire and they'll assume you're the sort of person who turns over rocks hoping to find an elf or a troll (or mistake you for someone from Iceland, where they really do believe elves and trolls live in rocks). Who starts a new venture based on a desire? Who upends her life on a feeling?
Before desire went the way of sex, cast out as a devilish temptation that will surely lead us astray, it was understood as the language of the soul. From deep inside us come longings we cannot explain, need not explain. They call to us like a specter in the night. We hear them as whispers from within, spoken in a language we've forgotten we know. When the soul calls we don't comprehend it, we feel it. And that feeling is the answer itself.