Wednesday, April 23


I finished a book today. You Shall Know Our Velocity! by Dave Eggars. It took me the entire semester to get through it. I love his books. I am not sure I quite grasp postmodern literature but I strongly, strongly identify with the themes. Sometimes too much, I think. The sentences are elegant in their simplicity and the way they evoke emotion, but are course at the same time. Since I can't accurately describe the themes, here is an excerpt:

"I decided at age twelve, after first getting the whole thing explained to me, that I would no longer express or be party to any human emotion. I watched the TV news and wanted to disassociate myself. I renounced my membership. I would be a better human by stripping myself of human weaknesses. I would be a better human by not raising my voice, by not crying, by not being angry, or sad, or annoyed, or excited. I was tired of staying up at nights waiting for dawn, wondering what would happen if I slept, who would come to kill me."

That's got me written all over it.

This weekend Crosspoint, er, Issac really, organized a men's retreat in the Ouachita National Forest. This was the first legitimate hiking I have ever done. We hiked in under a full moon and made our way up the mountain, carrying everything we needed with us. Water, food, sleeping bags, and a few tents that were never used. We slept on top of Buckeye Mnt, which was quite cold, and very windy. I woke up every 10 minutes to check for bears. I am now convinced there are no bears there. Nor deer. Nor anything really, besides ticks and ants. And a bunch birds that like to scream all night to each other without breathing. I have never slept on top of a mountain until now. It feels good. The lyrics of "hummingbird" by Wilco kept running through my head. "his goal in life was to be an echo, the type of sound that floats around and then back down, like a feather. But in the deep chrome canyons of the loudest manhattan no one could hear him, or anything. So he slept, on a mountain. On a sleeping bag stretched beneath the stars he'd lie awake and count them. And the great fountain spray of the great milky way would never let him die alone."

I recited these words to my friends in the midst of a pain induced hallucination from an intense headache the second night we were there. In a cloud of mysterious flies that appeared for no reason, after drinking creek water with Iodine tablets and feasting on carpenter ants. I swear I heard bad country music too, coming down from the mountains around us. I slept for maybe an hour that night before waking up to check for non existent bears again.

I think it was an excellent precursor for my trip. I learned that a mattress pad can make a big difference, as can a tent. But I think I understood why I was there a bit more, and what the transcendentalists keep blabbering on about. With one exception. I didn't want to stop for long periods of time. I wanted to cover ground, to be somewhere new. To be nomadic. I have never liked being tied to one place, which is why I travel so much. I think that the concept of place is kind of a lie that we buy into, we get it confused with home, or friends and family, or happiness. But there is a spirit of place. And I think I carry mine around with me. I always have. I collect experiences and friendships and whisk them away to my next stop. So while Half dome, or Seattle, or Cathedral Valley might not have any significance to me on their own, I still feel the need to go collect them. To experience them, and take them away with me. Not for bragging rights, even though I will brag about it, but so my perception of the world, or reality, or existence, whatever you want to call it, might be expanded, that I might grow as a person, as a human being because of it. And because of the journey, where I find friends, where I find beauty, and hopefully quiet. And space. Space and quiet to listen for that still small voice. I think, anyway. I am not quite sure yet if all of this is something I am chasing after, or running away from. If I had to choose, I would say both.


the photoSmith said...

Ron Burgundy : Everyone just relax, all right? Believe me, if there's one thing Ron Burgundy knows, it's women.

Brian Fantana : I don't know, Ron.

Ron Burgundy : Guess what, I do. I know that one day Veronica and I are gonna to get married on top of a mountain, and there's going to be flutes playing and trombones and flowers and garlands of fresh herbs. And we will dance till the sun rises. And then our children will form a family band. And we will tour the countryside and you won't be invited.

Elaine said...

you know where there ARE bears. Where you're going.

I distinctly remember stopping at a snowy campsite in Colorado and seeing a warning sign that it was dangerous to sleep there that month because they bears were coming out of hibernation. hungrily.

Teysha Faith said...

PAUL. this. was. amazing. i love what you said about places and collecting them. it blew my mind. and those wilco lyrics? i need that song.

great job! really.

..but you're not looking for compliments, i know. i just can't find better words.