Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Mage of Terlingua


If you don't know about John Wells, you really ought to visit his web-page and watch his progress. John is a 50 year-old man, living alone (aside from friendly steer and frequent visitors) in the desert of Terlingua Ranch, Texas, and building, entirely by himself, The Southwest Texas Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living Field Laboratory, or The Field Lab. I subscribe to the Atom Feed in order to get his daily updates - usually brief, entirely charming, ever-optimistic, witty and pragmatic.

Here's a man, just ten years younger than me (sic, ±) who's doing something the rest of us only talk about: self-employed, using all his skills to make something that will outlast him and could be tremendously useful for the future. But more than that, it's obvious from the tone of his writing that he's doing exactly what he wants to be doing. He's a happy man who has the focus and training to be putting together something that works. He shares his enjoyment in making each piece just exactly right and keeping his body fit by climbing scaffolding and assembling it himself. It must feel good!

John doesn't talk a lot about himself and I confess I haven't combed his 2+ years of entries for biographical information. It seems to me he has mentioned a former life in New York City. But he appears to be living entirely in the moment and his blog is, from the beginning, in the form of a journal, recoding the events, sights, and inspirations of each day with just enough peripheral comment to provide context. I'm sure he'd laugh at my saying it, but for the reader there's something almost spiritual in its simple purity. He observes natural, atmospheric and meteorological phenomena alongside progress reports and tells tales of his visits to the local town and the characters who live there.

Even if you don't subscribe, The Field Lab is worth an occasional visit to watch the progress, feel the warmth of Texas winter, and stay in touch with a very interesting man.


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