"Every time I did there was a beaver stick in the water at my feet. And they're of course, they're workers. So I imagined the beaver were saying 'What the hell's wrong with you? You get back in there and do your work.'" Up in his studio, he had a collection of sticks, and he showed me how they bore the marks of little teeth. It was a lesson for Lopez. "Every day I saw the signs of: don't lose faith in yourself," he told me. [NPR Obituary of Writer Barry Lopez]
I am progressing through a first draft of my first novel commenced about 2013. The path has lacuna of months and years, but returning to it gives coherence to my creative and physical being. When I discovered today that Lopez died December 25, 2020 at age 75 after from aggressive prostate cancer diagnosed six years ago, the ticking of the clock became louder. I will be 70 in a few weeks, and ask myself daily, “is this what I really want and need to be doing now?” It took Lopez 30 years to complete “Horizons” not long before his death. He wife said she could see both a figurative and physical lifting from his shoulders. I sense what that means. But he also said the final work required his aging. The way he saw the world shifted. He was less judgmental, more appreciative of the persistent inner life force of all living things. He was more open to seeing stories in small wonders too often unnoticed.