Sacred House of the Human Spirit & the Meaning of Life

Shiprock, New Mexico, on the Navajo Reservation.



She drove him six hours into a small mining town in eastern Nevada, near the Utah border. During the drive he told her what had happened. She listened intently but did not speak. A green-colored half moon hung low in the sky, the horizon beneath it a band of xanthic light which glowed like something prehistoric.

They drove in silence for a long time, and then he said something to her that she thought very strange and poignant, something which afterward she’d think a lot about, and which she’d never forget:

“Work,” he said, “what you do, the movements of your body guided by your brain — that is the meaning of life.”

She looked at him quizzically.

He told her that there’s nothing more important in life than how you work — whatever that work may be. The motions and movement of your body, he said, as dictated by your brain. He said that human ability is rooted in the human brain, and that whatever else you are and whatever else you become, it grows from this foundation. He said that nothing more fundamental than work is required for the life you want for yourself, and that no matter what moral code anyone tries to force upon you, whether secular or non-secular, the final measure of value is in the work. He told her that everything else you’ll hear is a swindle, and that competence is the only ethical code you’ll ever need — that anyone will ever need.

She listened closely but did not reply to any of this.

A long silence ensued.

“In the sacred house of the human spirit, each of us dwells alone,” he said.

“Where did you hear that?” she said.

“Something I once read, long ago.”

“Is it true?”

“Yes, it is.”

She glanced over at him but said nothing, and after that they rode in silence the rest of the way, down the long lonely road, the moon above like a giant squeeze of lime among stars winking with a cold and icy light. At last they came to the outskirts of a town she’d never been to, and he got out of her car and stared at her through the open window but did not speak. Then he said goodbye.

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This is excerpted from my latest novel: Reservation Trash, which for the next five days is free on Kindle. Download it and I’m eternally grateful.

It’s the story of a young Navajo runaway named Kristy Reed, his monomanaical pursuit of life, happiness, and the sub-four-minute mile, which for him represents freedom and human ability. It’s my seventh published book?–?but it’s the one I’m most pleased with … by far.




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