March 1st, 2017 | John Chandler

I watched as smoke from my cigar ascended like Elijah and dissipated into dead space. So were my thoughts on that lonely night in Idaho – disembodied and estranged from myself.

I thought about my life that night — about my past experiences, my future ambitions. I thought about a God above and the ground below. I thought about the ash from my cigar — fragile, heather flakes reminding me of what I’d become.

I thought about how Time has a way of ridding us – it takes its finger and taps us away until we are dust on the earth. It gives itself to us then its gone. It smothers us into earth’s ash trays, tossing us upon heaps of what once was. I thought about how one day I’d simply be what once was.

As I thought I became anxious and as I became anxious, afraid. With each thought Time was working on me. The moment I felt I measured Time’s work I found I was short: as I stopped to mark it – for even the briefest moment — Time had continued its labor without me! Even as I sat in the void of Idaho — the empty vacuum of Idaho! — Time was burning my life and I couldn’t control it. As hard as I tried there wasn’t a thing I could do to stop it, to change it, to slow it down. With each moment, another little ash flake was falling off and floating down to earth. With every thought I was closer to being gone.

I tried to save hope that night. I thought about when Time would have its final say. Having no way to stop it, to slow it, to divert it or distract it and utterly no way to know how much of myself was left to burn, I wondered if there was anything at all worthy of hope. I wondered how I’d consider my life on my deathbed, should I ever get such a luxury. I wondered how my loved ones, how God would consider my life. I decided the hope of my life — the single hope — is that it would taste sweet upon its exhale in the moments before it vanishes and is forgotten.

And so it was in Idaho that night that I considered the age old saying “ash to ash, dust to dust.” And how is it that at such a thought I could ever see myself the same?