Archive for October 27th, 2009

Mind and Motion

The landscape began to get really interesting as I made my way through the Texas panhandle and into New Mexico.  That was where I started seeing things I had never seen before – a small canyon opening up in the middle of what looked to be a regular field; small at first, then larger mesas exposing stretches of intense, russet-hued earth on their sides; and the first inklings of the rock formations that would lie further west.  To be fair to Arkansas, I should mention that although the landscape was pretty flat, uninteresting, and indistinguishable from many other places, Arkansas was the first place I’d driven where the terrain allowed for broad, open skies in all directions, and it was there that I began to feel I just might be able to breathe.  While eastern Tennessee was beautiful, and driving between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Appalachians in Virginia was glorious, it wasn’t until I reached flat plain and wide open sky that I felt at last the possibility of fully inhaling and exhaling, and the clamps on my head seemed to consider eventually releasing.

In the forty-eight hours spent with friends in Dallas to rest, my body may have recuperated some from my bat-out-of-hell departure, but I came away with perhaps still more agitation and distress of both mind and soul.  In those two short days, I’d managed to have about a half-dozen memorable interactions with several friends.  Each exchange had its own character, and by no means were they all about me and this journey; but each somehow underscored another of the disturbing dimensions of the human condition, even as the very relating of each narrative or dialogue fostered its own connection.  Within my feelings of love and gratitude for my friends, and my joy at spending a little time with them, were intermingled feelings of alienation, despair, and sadness, cumulatively leaving me with even greater internal turbulence than I’d arrived with.

Somewhere back in Tennessee I had seen a billboard that startled and bemused me.  It said:

All I know is…Everything


Without launching into a discourse on religion or theism, I will say that I could only raise my left eyebrow (OK, cynically), and respond “Really now?  What’s that like?”  It seems to me that (to quote Don Henley) “the more I know, the less I understand.”  Re-experiencing the juxtaposition of loving connections with the more painful paradoxes of humanity was somehow even more bewildering than the existential agonies that had sent me on this walkabout in the first place.  Or maybe they were all one in the same.  Did I feel such turmoil because I was already so raw emotionally, or was this type of disquietude an everyday possibility that I or others routinely overrode?  This mind simply could not work it out.

As I drove westward on I-40 through the Cherokee country of Oklahoma, I experienced another “soundtrack moment.”  Something about being in that part of the country cried out for listening to the Eagles.  It really did seem requisite.  And as I listened to the Eagles’ Live album, the terrain began to change increasingly dramatically, and the song “Wasted Time” -– a hurts-so-good favorite since my divorce (click here for lyrics) — came on, followed by “Take It to the Limit:”

You know I’ve always been a dreamer
(spent my life running ’round)
And it’s so hard to change
(Can’t seem to settle down)
But the dreams I’ve seen lately
Keep on turning out and burning out
And turning out the same

So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time

I drove off in a state of distress that lasted most of the way through Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle, until gradually, as the weather front above gave way to sun, and the  landscape began yielding unfamiliar vistas, the interior weather front began to dissipate little by little as well.  By the time I got to Albuquerque two days’ driving later, I was feeling somewhat more balanced, more myself.  I was again staying with an old friend, one with whom I’ve shared many life trials.  After warm greetings by my human and a beloved Golden Retriever friend (to which latter I surrendered clean clothes and a dry face), I was further set aright.  As the evening light descended on the New Mexican Friday night, the Sandia Mountains glowed with their particular incandescence.  I knew I was officially in The West, and the heart of my journey was upon me.  And I breathed, deeply.

Song lyrics courtesy of: http://www.musicbabylon.com
©2009. All rights reserved.
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