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I stretched out my hand to a friend last Friday. "Good Luck out there," I said. He wouldn't say where he is going or why, but assured me it was nothing personal. He wanted to vanish, no trace or trail, out into the ether. No wonder I wished him well 'out there.' But he will be here, somewhere on this circular globe; but I will always ponder the rush to depart, to cut all ties, the need to erase all connections with the here and now. Most people struggle to form community, to meet new friends. We don't really need to be reminded that no man is an island. But my lost friend was different, preferring separation over connection. There is something naive about his longing to start anew. Sure, you can call it rugged American individualism, the striking out for the something new and promising over the hill, the new Zion if you will. But what is naive, I think, is the thought that we recreate our biography by solely switching our geography. My wife taught me long ago that wherever you go, you take yourself. But I increasingly believe that biography is as much about one's spirit as the specifics of here and now space and time. My friend is gone, but he really can't eviscerate his memory of his time in Salt Lake, unless he hides from his own memories. Then he becomes just another sad character in one of French existentialist Jean Paul Satre's plays, such as my favorite: "No Exit."


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Tom Callan


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