From the Lip of the Cave

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I wrote this song at a worn kitchen in a cramped little apartment in Anderson where my brother and sister Aaron and Lauren Wells put me up for three or four weary weeks between Midwestern shows. I slept in on an air mattress while they went to work and school around me, and I spent summer afternoons out looking for trails I didn’t know of, or hammocking trees in which to make my roost and commune with Berry and Kerouac and Burroughs (the lattermost of whom scared me to psychedelic death.)

Evenings, the Wells and I would cook dinner for each other and invariably stay up late, talking over the hum of the wall unit air conditioner. Lauren would cash in and Aaron and I would drink beers on the stoop of 7th St as he tried to win me over on this or that country song. It was a refreshment of spirit for me as I geared up for my isolated month in Appalachia where I would spend a lot of time writing and practicing the arts of building fires, writing letters, and not speaking. But that month with my Indiana family was silence all afternoon and laughter all evening.

The Cave of Clouds is a spelunking expedition somewhere outside of Denver that some friends and I went out looking for and could never find. The hippie theologian Richard Foster writes about loneliness versus solitude, the dark night of the soul, and the silence in which we can hear God if we’re still enough. Stillness comes naturally to us introverted folk, but my soul has certainly seen its string of dark nights, and I’m on intimate terms with the Lonely One from Bradbury’s vernal bildungsroman novels.

Loneliness and solitude are nose to nose on a line thinner than razors, and I don’t know if I’ll ever find the zen in between. I never found the Cave of Clouds.