RUNNIN’ DOWN A DREAM
If you are a fan of Tom Petty, you’ll know these lyrics:
“I’m runnin’ down a dream that never would have come to me,
Workin’ on a mystery that never would have come to me,
Runnin’ down a dream.”
Now, in the words of a would-be-writer . . .
The pavement calls to me, a language long-forgotten, coming back to me slowly, syllable by syllable the mystery unfolds. The highway has its own language, no lie, I can hear it at times, the wheels hugging the asphalt, the hum of rubber meeting the road, the road stretching out, leading people to and fro, a job it’s held for generations. How’s that possible, you ask, but the answer is so simple, a little history clarifies it all, highways laid where once railroads roamed, or wagon trails, and before that game trails where mountain men, Jeremiah Smith, anyone, following overland routes first established by tribes, so that I-5 and I-10 and I-80 are nothing more than face-lifts reflecting our history, and ain’t that just incredible when you think about it, cruising along the Interstate at sixty in a rainbow-colored shuttle bus, where once wagon trains and stagecoaches and Medicine men once traveled, and that sort of thing just gets my juices flowing.
Think about it, one minuscule example, lend me your ear, if I were to travel east tonight, pointed toward the Great Plains and beyond, I would cross over the same land my father and mother traveled over, coming west, back in 1948, and if I really calm myself, if I really allow myself to become part of the energy of the universe, I can feel them, their presence, just as I can feel the presence of Lewis and Clark along the Columbia River, or standing in the wagon ruts from the original Oregon Trail, wagon ruts which once served as the only overland route to the west, you can feel the energy, the spirit, of those braver-than-brave settlers who scraped and clawed and hollowed out new lives.
There is comfort in the shared history, at least it seems to me, a cohesiveness which unites us all, and I mean that sincerely, and I can’t understand why that commonality isn’t strong enough to bring more of us together, to stop the meaningless war of words, to bond where bonding is so needed.
Look closely on your next road trip. The history is there for you to marvel at, but it requires getting off the Interstates, ending your need for speed, and meander along the back roads. Abandoned railroad tracks, abandoned granges, abandoned barns, tilting precariously, weighted down by the years, chimneys standing sentinel where once grand homes stood, broken wagon axles, wagon tongues, fragments of chairs and beds and cabinets, all at one time owned by homesteaders, buried by decades of dust and the shifting Earth, dust to dust, if you will, and each one telling a story, individual chapters of a larger story, the American story, waiting for you to read, to absorb, to internalize, and to learn from.
SOME WILL SIMPLY NEVER UNDERSTAND
I had an online conversation with a casual friend tonight, the topic of which was the wildfires in the west, which eventually led to Bev’s trek, how was she, she must have been terrorized, the fear those hikers must experience, and ultimately why do they do it?
She simply does not understand.
I had a similar, albeit briefer conversation, with another casual friend, that one did not progress as nicely, the tone I was receiving was it is irresponsible for hikers to risk their lives, and to worry their loved ones so, just to follow a dream.
She simply does not understand.
Let’s look at each of those conversations.
I would not describe the wildfires in the west as particularly dangerous or threatening for hikers. I know of very few hikers who think that way, for most realize that the Trail is carefully and closely monitored, by the U.S. Forest Service, by the Bureau of Land Management, and by the Pacific Crest Trail Association. Trail closures are the norm. Trail detours are the norm. Hikers expect, at some point in the six-month journey, to be detoured or rerouted by wildfires. What they don’t expect, and what has almost a zero chance of happening, is to die in a wildfire while on the Trail.
I spent a great amount of time with thru hikers over the past six months, and I can tell you, almost with no exceptions, that thru hikers are not terrorized by anything they are going to face on the Trail. They are thrilled to be facing the challenges, which are considerable, and that is the part my casual friend does not understand and will never understand. Facing challenges, for that casual friend, consists of maneuvering through traffic on a drive downtown. Seriously. I don’t say that to be mean. It is simply the truth. She has rarely, if ever, pushed herself in a physically challenging activity, certainly not one consisting of months of discomfort and possible injury. It is beyond her scope of thinking, and always will be.
So why would a thru hiker take on such challenges? I think the best way to describe it is they are wired a bit differently than the average citizen. They desire to push their bodies and push their minds to discover answers to questions they are not even aware of, and that’s as close as I can come to aptly describing and explaining it.
As for the second conversation, I am fighting myself to be kind in my response. Irresponsible to follow a dream? My best response to that is this:
Nonsense! I think it’s a crying shame that more people do not follow dreams, quite frankly, but rather choose to waste away their time on Earth living a sequestered life afraid to take a chance. Having said that, I need to step back, take a deep breath, and realize that my casual friend lives that type of hermit lifestyle for a reason. I am not privy to that reason, and therein lies the reason why I need to be understanding. And she says things which could be misconstrued as insensitive and abrasive for a reason; again, I am not aware of that reason, and so it goes. If her comments bother me, there is an easy online solution.
BREATHE DEEP THE GATHERING GLOOM
I have the Moody Blues stuck on my brain today.
The reason for that section heading is I just looked outside, at 7:30 pm, and the rapidly approaching darkness surprised me. Cars are passing by with their headlights on. Where the hell did summer go?
I love the nighttime inside of Puddle Walker. I think I’ve mentioned it before, so forgive me, but I absolutely adore closing the curtains and being enveloped by my fiberglass womb. I have my colored lights flickering different colors right now, like some after hours disco party, and it makes me happy. Maggie is snoring beside me, lights are turning on inside of single-family homes around me, the noise of the day has faded, and the deep sigh of evening is upon me.
I leave in three days, September 1st to be exact, provided my buddy gets a clean bill of health on Thursday. The assumption, by me, is that he will.
I will head back down to the Columbia River then, spend about a week there, allow the temperatures to cool off in Eastern Washington, and then follow the Columbia east and then north into the Scablands for some time there. I haven’t been in that particular part of the state in a few years, so I’m looking forward to tumbleweeds and pines and wide-open spaces and very, very small towns.
P.S. I decided not to leave until the 4th. I failed to account for Labor Day Weekend and the hordes on the road and in all camping areas.
Double P.S. I am returning to Olympia on the 11th; change of plans, big change coming on the 22nd, stay tuned.
Allowing life to come to me . . . I’ve mentioned it before . . . an example for your contemplation and consideration.
If I were to begin a search, today, for a kindred spirit, I suspect I would be sorely disappointed, frustrated, and grasping at the straws of my efforts, for how does one do that? Do you poll random people on the street? Take out an ad? Walk around wearing a sign asking people if they are kindred?
However, if I wake up, go about my daily randomness, have someone offer to paint some words on Puddle Walker, and greet that person when they arrive AND . . . important AND here . . . engage that person in real conversation, well, I’ll be damned if the seemingly impossible doesn’t become possible.
Her name is Tay and I find her to be thoroughly enjoyable and so like me as to be almost scary.
My first thought, after a half hour of conversation, is how can a thirty-year-old be so damned wise? Continue the conversation and add on how can a thirty-year-old be so talented, so engaging, so insightful, and so human?
My apologies to those reading this who are thirty or younger. It’s just that I rarely encounter someone so young who has a spirit so old, or who is so in touch with the energy of life, or who seems to really get it, you know?
Tay is an artist. I asked for her permission so I could use her real name, one reason being she has a website where her art, and her many other talents, are on display. If you feel a desire to see her work, please go to www.taylotus.com and check it all out. This will appear in the 53rd or 54th chapter of this journal, and I don’t believe I have shared anyone’s website until this moment . . . obviously, I feel strongly about this young woman who, also, hold onto your asses, loves animals and donates money from her works to animal organizations.
Tay Lotus is her name.
She is real human, and I am honored that she painted on Puddle Walker, leaving some of herself in the process. The words “Meeting America One Handshake At A Time” will forever adorn Puddle Walker and remind me of a vibrant person unveiling.
It is now the day after I met Tay. It’s raining, which as everyone knows, fosters deep contemplation. And the direction of this afternoon’s contemplation is how many times, in my life, have I felt as comfortable and willing to open up about myself as I did yesterday with a 30-year-old woman I did not know?
Easily less than ten; I don’t even have to stop and think about that fact. In fact, ten seems high, and isn’t that a remarkable thing, seventy-four years and less than ten times feeling totally comfortable with another human being upon first meeting them? I’m not sure what that says about me, other than reaffirming the fact that I am a devout introvert, and also very reserved when it comes to trusting people . . . neither of which are bad things, by the way. Perhaps I am more open to the possibility now, showing growth if that is the case; perhaps Tay transmitted energy I found inviting and yes, I do believe in the power of personal energy. And, perhaps, a combination of several factors. Whatever the case may be, it was refreshing and makes me feel hopeful as I continue out on the road, inviting people to meet me, to share with me, and to form a bond with a fellow human being.
Tay Lotus, ladies and gentlemen. Check out her website and her art.