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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Time to Get Away

A vision quest is a native American ritual. A spiritual journey into the wilderness to find your spirit animal. It was a sacred right of passage, I think. I don’t really know all that much about it. But I believe in the value of getting away from the metal and concrete, the electric wires, the cell phone towers, the overwhelming, overpowering crush of humanity crammed into the city. All the wires and exhaust fumes electrical emissions interfere with our ability to find reason. All of the money and science put into transportation and communication and we can’t find each other or ourselves. If we do manage to stumble into someone we want to see we have nothing of value to say.
Last night I went to the hardware superstore to buy some modern electrical contraption, plastic, disposable, and filled with all sorts of little soldered circuits and bad karma. I decided to walk across the street to the grocery supermarket. It was a death race, me against the world. Cars zipped everywhere, unconcerned with the pedestrians, barely aware of other cars. It was madness. Angry horns honking, warning, “get out of my way.”
Mechanical madness, it was easy to believe the cars were in control, people were only a byproduct of the iron age, we stopped using the machines and started serving them. And the people were everywhere. The store was packed, shopping carts careening down crowded aisles, it has become impossible to escape wheeled monsters bent on collision.
In the short time I was in the store, just long enough to buy a bottle of bourbon, strictly for medicinal purposes, three cars had decided to settle their differences the old-fashioned way. They ran into each other, shattered plastic, glass and all sorts of fluids spilled all over the intersection. There were fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, lights flashing, chasing away the gloom of the evening. A light rain had begun to fall. The wet pavement reflected everything. Light echoed off everything. It looked sinister and supernatural.
Trekking back toward my car I fell in line between a young woman pushing a shopping cart. In the cart were two small children, a third walked beside the cart holding onto the cage. Walking the other way was a man and woman pushing a shopping cart with a baby strapped into a car seat which was hooked into the seat part of the cart. The baby was crying, loud, a high-pitched sustained wailing, unchanging, constant. They were going into one of the loudest places I had ever been with a noisemaker. I shuddered just thinking about it.
The lady in front of me turned and looked at the couple walking past and saw me.
“Somebody isn’t happy.” She said, smiling.
“No, somebody isn’t.” I replied, thinking ‘everybody isn’t happy.’ But, I didn’t want to show my despair.
After making my way around the accident I fell into traffic and got behind a Mercury Montego. There must have been a short in the electrical system. Every time they pressed on the brake pedal the bright red brake lights would flash several times before lighting solid. It grated on my senses, it burned into my eyes, seared onto the surface of my brain. Flash. Flash, Blink. Since it was rainy and rush-hour they tapped the brakes a lot. I thought about crashing into the back of their car to help fix the problem. But, I love my car, a Toyota Tacoma, and it seemed a little excessive.
Eventually a car pulled in between us and I thought I had it made. Since my car is a pickup I sit up a little higher and I could still see the flashing lights through the windshield of the car between us. Now, it was further compounded by the windshield wipers. It was Morse Code from the abyss, “Don’t worry, take your time, we will wait here for you.” Lights, noise, insanity, all artificial, all manmade, all grating and terrible.
 Last time we made a weekend escape we participated in an “Owl Prowl.” After dark we walked down a dark road with the naturalist. She used a smart phone to call owls. Silence is important. The chill of night teased our ears and tweaked our noses. Out of nowhere an owl answered the call, it was amazing. She called and he answered several times. In the distance a coyote called in the distance to our right and was answered by one somewhere behind us. We were aliens in their world and the sounds were beautiful.
It might be time for another weekend away. Hiking trails, fire pits, steaks sizzling over a charcoal grill. Maybe a bottle of wine and the kindness and gentleness of my wife’s smile. It is where I can recharge, refurbish, renew.  Albert Einstein said, “Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.” I need a few minutes to look into nature.


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