Monday, January 3, 2011
Song of the Open Road Redux
Henceforth I ask not for good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing.
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road....
I've set my sails for western shores. A few mornings ago, I was coming back into the house after putting bird seed out on the feeder, and as my hand reached for the door knob I knew: it was time to go.
I used to feel apologetic for being so susceptible to the song of the open road, but I have come to accept the drifter in me and have not only come to terms with her, but I feel very much at peace with her. It's who I've always been for as long as I can remember. "I yam what I yam," as Popeye would say, and I yam someone who loves the open road; it's a natural fit. It knows when I'm ready and leaves a trail for me to follow. We've been friends for a very long time.
Being on the road gives me an opportunity to let everything fall away as the miles stretch out before me, that ribbon of road singing under my wheels. I find my energy falling into a quieter movement and a greater awareness follows. It has a way of bringing things into clear focus. It clarifies, cleanses and purifies (damn face products have stolen all the good words) and yes, it even heals. As long as I can get behind the wheel I will probably be moving between Point A and Point B. Point A being Minnesota and Point B being somewhere else, most likely out west. I love the West and all it seems to represent. I Know it is my spiritual home. But, Minnesota is the land of my roots and having a piece of land there again gives me a true sense of place: a place to call my own, a place to return to at the end of the day, even when that day turns into a string of days spent under the blue New Mexico sky, or in the red-rock canyons of Utah. I wouldn't want it any other way.
I spent last night somewhere along I-90 in South Dakota. Mitchell. Corn Palace Country. I was there with Coleman once, en route to a camping trip in the Black Hills. It's an interesting place. I remember thinking it would be, uh, corny, but liking it more than I thought I would. Quite an accomplishment actually. But, today was a day of open prairie, broken only by the occasional rolling hills. Atop a solitary hill, lightly dusted with new snow, a small herd of pronghorn antelope stood silent, heads held high against a backdrop of blue sky, so quintessentially western.
As I'm driving, I have a strange sensation, as though every cell in my body is being replaced - out with the old, in with the new - with road tunes for company. And good company it is - "Guitar George, he knows all the chords." By tomorrow afternoon, I'll be in Moab, Utah. I can't wait to feel my feet firmly planted on red rock - Arches in the evening light. But, tonight I sleep nestled up against the Rockies, at the edge of this mountain village, here on the western slope.
You road I enter upon and look around! I believe you are not all that is here;
I believe that much unseen is also here.
~ Walt Whitman, "Song of the Open Road"
Photos taken somewhere outside of Moab, courtesy of my long-time friend and hiking pal, JB.
Song lyrics are courtesy of Dire Straits