Time to process. Back from Texas and Louisiana early yesterday morning. I was gone exactly 2 weeks and an eventful packed two weeks it was. I was pretty good about writing while I was gone and wrote 12-pages in the travel journal yesterday alone, wrapping up the last weekend and the events that sent me back so soon. I won't rehash everything here, but I do need to get some ideas straight.
There are some great things that happened. I met some terrific people and more than my other trips, stuck things out and learned so much about who I have become. Perspective? Frame of reference? Call it what you want, but seeing how I am around these folks as a way of comparison to how I was -- is significant. I was a leader. Able to offer guidance and, most surprisingly, I seemed to attract people. At least certain types. Those who, like me, seem to be searching for something intangible. And the fiercely independent.
Obvious examples are Jimmy and Steve. They were two people who like me refused to just "accept" what was going on with the drug-culture in camp. Steve more so than Jimmy, although he too abhorred drugs. Steve was a guy who I really identified with; Jimmy too, but he initially seemed to come along for the ride -- an afterthought while in Odessa. I admired Steve's independence, and he reflected mine. I still regret what happened with him, although it may have been best. With all the drama in Louisiana -- he may have combusted. I've still not talked to him since we separated at the Dallas bus station, and have a nagging feeling I won't.
Jimmy turned out to be a bit of a Jekyll/Hyde. He had three distinct personalities. Wise, disconnected, drunk. The trip from Odessa to New Orleans was enjoyable, and the Easter Sunday we three spent next to the Mississippi was -- magical. Such peace, serenity -- authenticity. At that moment, I literally thought I was already on my trip! If I had chosen, I could have been. I was ready to leave that day, and I wanted the three of us to make our way out, hoping to repeat the feelings we had that day-- everyday. I'll never forget that. It's something that set a tone for me, and I'm afraid that I've let that fade a bit.
Yet, as special as that day was, it was its negativity that set the lasting metaphor for what was to come. Something beautiful and pure destroyed by its environment; the negativity. Tricia and I both noticed it when we left the levee, crossed the road, and reentered camp: the magic vanished. More than vanished. It was replaced in kind by something black. As good as it was by the river, it was equally as bad in camp. That, for the most part, never ended and I saw it to the extreme that last day with the kitten.
Tricia could never break free from it. She's used to it, and doesn't know how to exist outside of it.
James? It led him to just drink to try to figure it out. He was like me, though -- experiencing everything and trying to solve it.
Jimmy? I'm not sure. He wasn't the same after that Sunday -- although there were glimpses. He seemed to disengage. Maybe he felt what I did, and that was his way of protecting himself from it? But, from what I saw that last Monday, then heard on the phone from James last night, he's not dealing -- but drinking. I couldn't communicate with him before I left on Monday due to the whiskey, although I could tell he was upset I was leaving. It came on so quickly -- no advance warning -- even to myself. I hope he's okay and things go well for him, but I'm unconvinced that they will. He has demons I can't comprehend. Jimmy's a vast resource of wisdom, but also an obvious alcoholic. I could go no further with him, and hypocritical or not, couldn't deal with him drunk. That friendship could've gone a great deal further, but as it turned out, we were "like minds running parallel for a while." I gave him my number and hope I hear from him again. I'm pretty sure I won't. I wish him well.
Tricia was frustrating. But, I was naive. I found something beautiful in her on Easter, but never saw it on full display again. I'd see glimpses, as with Jimmy, but she'd always revert back to her comfortable perch. We would have long conversations and I would try to offer insights from my own experience, sincerely trying to help but eventually I came to a significant conclusion; one that's elementary and one that's plagued me:
***Taking your opportunities and doing something with them. Having a willingness to act; do a bit more than complaining. I equate it to a combination of following The Voice and freewill. The Voice only guides; it's up to you to do something with it. Waiting for passive enlightenment? You'll wait forever. Enlightenment is like wisdom v. knowledge (Thamus). You achieve enlightenment ONLY through action and experience; masturbation-- mental or otherwise-- conceives nothing. Enlightenment doesn't come via writing, talking, reading...these things offer tools to guide you to action, but without action they're nothing but nice ideas. Pretty, clever, contrived words. Words without action are like an owner's manual without a car. What are you supposed to do? Pretend you're driving? Action and experience are infinitely more important than idle words. My ideas served me well on this trip. Very well. Yet, without the action aspect of learning ? I'd still be sitting here...wondering.***
I saw this unwillingness to act in Tricia, and got to the point were I concluded it was hopeless. She didn't want to do what it took to live in that "energy" we found by the levee that day; she didn't believe she could. Maybe a seed was planted, and maybe someday she will. She's one of the few, yet still significant percentage who are...I'll no longer call it enlightened..."touched?" They just feel it, and can access it when the environment is right. I believe Steve is touched. Jimmy. James. I was gone for 14 days, and found four in the first four days! Any of which could have shared my experience; in fact they were.
These are the people I seek and keep finding, and what's more: they respond. To be honest, I wasn't exactly prepared for that! I thought that this may likely be a lonely journey. Finding as many as I did, coupled with some heightened sense of confidence, boldness, even courage...I felt like a pillar of strength for once, as arrogant as that sounds. Teflon. I was content to, even enjoyed, sitting alone rather than subjugating myself to those who either expected subjugation or I didn't respect.
And the honesty! Timmy was a great example. I told him, bluntly, that I neither liked nor wanted to hang out with him. I did so on his prompting and in front of his people. I walked it. He had no clue what to say, do, or how to handle me because I wasn't to be "handled." I haven't quite put it all together, but I've found something. Tapped into it. I need to build on it; be unafraid to blaze that trail, alone if necessary.That's what I really gained from this. Knowing my ideas or solid, they apply to masses; the experience as a whole gave me this. Not philosophizing. Experience: McCandless's "essence of life." I wonder what this experience would've been in a positive environment? One in which the beauty in life wasn't squashed by overwhelming negativity.The insights would have been skewed. Likely, it all happened as it should.
I became overwhelmed when the trailer dropped on the kitten. That devastated me. I had known for a few days that my time there was ending, but had resolved to try to last through Baton Rouge. I was thrilled to find that kitten scampering around, and got lost playing with her. She was a very sweet cat that loved people and brought in the first real, pure joy and beauty since the river. I was happy, tuned in and reminded of home and my own cats.
Then out of nowhere, the Kraken strikes. Suddenly I saw her pinned beneath the trailer, crying horrifically, then running as though her back was broken. I still can't describe what I felt. Horror. I couldn't cope with that. In some odd way, it was like seeing Gage hit by the truck in Pet Semetery. When I heard the others running-fugitive rather than helping, and worrying more about how Dave would react rather than trying to help his pet survive, I became sickened, disgusted, and had to get away from there. When Chris said, "It's time to snap its neck" I wanted to snap his. I was literally frightened of myself. Are these fucking people human? My conclusion: no.
Once I announced I was leaving, Jimmy said, if I left. I'd be "in danger." Of course, he was lit up. Tricia also said she had a "bad feeling" too, but couldn't explain it. I think they were feeling their own premonitions. James called last night and told me that Jimmy has been drunk since I left and was "pissing people off." I felt a bit uneasy about the decision until we are on the way to Greyhound and it occurred that the cat was a powerful metaphor. It may not have been just that, but it brought home the vision of everything pure, and beautiful being crushed. Tricia, The River, Jimmy, James... I tried to convey the thought but failed miserably.
With this, I knew I was making the right choice. I was touched by the fact that Tricia, James, Toby, Chris, and Gabby all rode with me to Greyhound. The ride was a bit odd, and departure anti-climatic. Tricia was upset that I didn't give her my number, but something told me not to. I really do not want her drama following me, especially when she refuses to handle it herself.
The bus home was a mixed bag. Of course, the vision and feelings about the cat were there, but also some good feelings about my personal revelations. The strongest feelings, and they still linger today, were about the cat. I see her happy eyes, hear her purr, see her playing...jumping at that damn stick. Then I see that trailer crushing her. I see her running cockeyed. I see her lying beneath that trailer. I cursed any "God" who would let something like that happen. I still can't reconcile it. I know it was an accident; a terrible one, but I hate it to my core. I don't even remember anything affecting me like that on 9/11! What does that say?!? It's because of the cat's innocence; its joy. It's since become obvious that perhaps I should consider getting involved rescuing... cats? Duh! I love the things for whatever reason, and always have.
I can also say that after Texas & Louisiana, I appreciate the tranquility here much more. "He wants his home and security... he wants to live like a sailor and sea." Since returning, I've been questioning the hiking trip--that's not good. It's going to rear its head again sooner or later. I feel as though I'm a short step from being able to settle down a bit and I hate what leaving does to Laina, even though I can't help it: the alternative is no option. I'm not in a place to parse-then-expand that thought just yet, but rest assured the next few pages should be good readin'. I feel at ease here, and know things are about to change for the better -- one way or another.
I'm supposed to know something from Michigan [job] in the next week or so, and the weather is warming up nicely. I don't know exactly what's going to happen, but this year's adventures have probably only just begun. [there's an understatement!] The bus trip, other than the image-induced mental torture, was pretty uneventful. I met an interesting guy from Texas named Dan. He's 57 and spent 20 years as a cop. He reminded me of Clint Hurdle. Dan seems to be a typical Texas conservative; voted Bush twice! Yet -- amazingly our views were similar. We spent the two or three hours from Dallas to Wichita Falls chatting about life, politics, and the coming economic disaster. My "impending doom." I really enjoyed the conversation; it solidified to me that truth owes no ideology. Is bound by no doctrine. I was glad to have had that talk, and again felt better about my experience and my ideas.
Yet again -- an example of testing ideas through experience. Maybe I have indeed finally turned that page? Idea v. Experience. Is it knowledge to wisdom? Or, simply data to knowledge?
This was far different from my other little expeditions. I'm now not exactly sure how to approach the next phase, but considering I've written almost 7-pages on this, and have come out of this feeling much better, it would seem silly to stop now. The job in Michigan won't last long. Long enough to take care of things: gear up, and depart.
I must do this. If I don't, I'll never find peace. It may indeed kill me, but if it does rest assured it's better than living with the turmoil and sense of dissatisfaction. If I come out the other side, and do it right, I may indeed be able to focus on a family. If I don't do this? I don't believe, even despite this current state of calm, that anyone will ever be able to rely on me. I can't help that, therefore I refuse to beat myself up for it. It simply must happen.
I'm seeking that "peace of the river." Calm. The inner tranquility that comes from acceptance of myself and my life. The beauty and purity of the cat. I have all of these elements in this house, and I know it. Yet -- I need inner peace to be able to be that kind of entity myself. I'm getting closer, and may have just taken a nice jump in the right direction.