Saturday, July 15, 2017

What's Past Is Prologue

This trip started in Vermont, took me into eastern New York around the western shores of Lake Champlain thru Ticonderoga and Plattsburgh to the Canadian border at Rouses Point then south. The original "plan" (ha!) was...stop me if you've heard the before...Maine. The last of the lower 48 I've yet to see.

Like most of my "date's" fathers as a teenager, Maine clearly hates me despite having never met me. I've aimed for it no fewer than three times with three failures. At the end of June I actually started in New England! At least this time I didn't end up in Idaho. Progress?

In Travels With Charley, Steinbeck wrote something to the effect that you're entitled to set expectations but regardless of them, every trip has it's own personality; it sets its own agenda independent of you. I'm a poster child for that idea.  This trip was no different. Plans=bait.

I've realized that this trip, and the aftermath, eerily resembled my very first trip in May, 2008. In fact, I noticed it the moment we left when I left my phone cord at home and Chris had to return for it! You'll see why when I add the posts but from the beginning to the weather-related encounters, to the resetting/tuning of purpose, all the way down to how the micro-trip unexpectedly ended. The scenery and cast were different but the texture was, and still is, bizarre in its similarities.

A few minutes ago I was reminiscing thru old posts on the archive blog and noticed something else that's perhaps even creepier: my writing immediately after that initial swing thru Colorado and Wyoming and how it seems to echo much of what I'm coughing up now.

While the ideas have evolved and become more sophisticated and nuanced as I've experienced more, the still unnamed "signal" (Voice) and Splinter in the Mind ideas are both here. So is the Ministry of Standards & Practices. I was even a technophobe! This was written several months before I ever logged onto Facebook for the first time but my recent enthusiastic return to (most of) these roots isn't lost on me.

My thoughts on "arrogance" seemed especially poignant. Especially the day after writing about it in the Dopamine Drip piece! The missing link to the related duality I explored (below) was only articulated recently (and in the Drip post) but I wrestled with reconciling what felt like an esteem-driven inconsistency as far back as 2008. In short, when I re-read this 9-year old post, what's obviously a psychological, philosophical, and even metaphysical reset struck me and is slightly unsettling.

It really feels like I've been chained in The Ogre's Cave for seven years. Campbell would agree, I think even if my starving ego prefers the Belly of the Whale!

Couchsurfing in Glenwood Springs, CO
May, 2008

Excerpt from "An Interlude"
June 2, 2008

Thoughts over the past few days:

Rules and expectations are a funny thing. Especially other people’s.

I resolved to have no rules; be beholden to no one’s expectations but my own. Did I expect to be back in Santa Fe after 11 days? Of course not, but if there are no expectations other than living and experiencing the freedom of the road; riding with fate; why question it? It would be easy to compare other people’s experiences and judge my actions accordingly, but I’m not trying to re-live anything or emulate anyone.

I’ve heard the ‘Into the Wild’ comparison a lot, and there are some similarities there when it comes to an innate disgust of a corporatist society, yet I’m not nearly as rigid in my personal expectations and methodology. I’ve been asked, ‘What are you running from?’ several million times and the answer is...expectation, servitude, and someone elses ‘program’. I want to find my own answers to life and where I see it going rather than simply accept the ‘answers’ I’ve been given. Indoctrinated with. I believe these ‘answers’ are bullshit, and I want to find the truth.

There is more to life than economic servitude. Working to attain material status. Produce, consume, repeat. That’s the point: escape from this Matrix of Materialism in search of the truth of existence. Pretty heady stuff, and I’m not kidding myself in believing I’ll ever find all of these answers. The truth of one’s existence has been sought after since Joe Caveman stumbled onto fire. Enter religion.

I simply believe it’s the one thing that each person should seek out independent of doctrine, ‘social norms’ and the expectations of the “Ministry of Standards & Practices”: family, friends, education, institution, and especially the media and it’s golden image of ‘success’ that’s portrayed in every single frame of every single broadcast.

Styx’s ‘Grand Illusion’: “They show you photographs of how your life should be-that’s just someone else's fantasy...”

Think about it next time you watch something. Your told what you should look like, how you should talk, and what & how much ‘stuff’ you should have to be ‘happy’, ‘comfortable’, and ‘successful’!

Who defines happy? Comfortable? Especially ‘successful’? What the hell IS 'Normal'? And who benefits when these are defined FOR you? Surely not the investment banker with four boats, a huge house, and an emptiness in his soul the size of Montana that he can’t fill with his Capitalist Achievement Badges.

I’ve also been fighting a battle with self-doubt, ego and my own self-perceived arrogance for a while now. Quite a potpourri of traits! It’s sometimes hard for me to accept that I’m actually RIGHT, and the personal responsibility that comes with it. I have a tendency to seek out people who seem smarter, and are more accomplished and ‘educated’ than me in an effort to actually prove myself wrong.

Yet, with almost NO exception, these people always disappoint. I have to take them right back off that pedestal and every time it happens, it reinforces the conclusions I’ve already come to and I’m quite straightforward in saying so. If that makes me arrogant, so be it. I’ll be the first to let you know when someone enlightens me! Friar Chris tends to think I have a low opinion of myself, believe it or not, and thus battle arrogance AND self- doubt at the same time. Talk about duality!

I’ve come to the conclusion that’s because we’ve been engineered to believe that we ‘ordinary’ people are incapable of accomplishing anything of substance; that greatness is only attainable by the truly ‘great’. Those who have been deified by the culture as flawless: those who have been “Santa Clausified”! We’re led to believe that if you’re not perfect, you should just give up because we’re unable to change or offer anything, or to live an ideal.

Martin Luther King is a perfect example, and one I use a lot. Here’s a guy who probably accomplished more in the 20th Century than any other American, yet he was besieged by self-doubt and was a flawed human being! He cheated on his wife regularly! He wasn’t a saint in any sense of the word, but he progressed his people and offered hope and inspiration in a way that no one else could. It just astounds me that MLK was plagued with self- doubt and depression! How could he doubt his cause?

Lincoln: depressive. Jean Jacques Rousseau, an architect of the French Revolution: manic depressive. I can relate to this, and understand, to a degree, where it’s coming from. It’s that inner sense that ‘something’s wrong’ and either being unable to decipher what it is, and/or change it. An inner- struggle for singularity of mind and body: bringing the vision to reality.

I’m convinced that there are literally millions out there that just know instinctively that something’s amiss, but can’t explain it. They just ‘feel’ inner turmoil and the wounds of that battle manifest themselves in depression. These people may the truly ‘blessed’ ones because they are part of the evolution. Oftentimes, but not always, they are scorned as alcoholics, addicts, derelicts who refuse to conform for, apparently, no reason. Their minds receive a frequency that they can’t quite tune in and it causes a disquiet: White Noise of the Mind.

They’re all over.

They simply have this ‘feeling’ that they’re afraid to talk about. That ‘something’s coming’. Something devastating, but natural and inevitable. I’ve had that since I was a tiny kid, and I meet random people who after a brief conversation, their eyes light up in understanding when I mention it. It’s like “YES! I’m NOT crazy??”

I’ve heard a lot of mention of the year 2012, and the Mayan calendar. Christian society will poo poo the notion as utter foolishness; blasphemy!: that nature could POSSIBLY correct ITSELF! Yet, these same people clutch desperately to the idea that there’s an All-Powerful Manlike God, sitting on his throne in the sky, watching everything we do; keeping score so that he’ll know who’s ‘good enough’ to live in ‘Paradise’! Seems a bit shortsighted to me, and borderline hypocritical.

It seems to me that nature has a funny way of righting itself when things become unbalanced. If you doubt there’s a lack of balance in the world today try to find a clean river to drink from, or a spot that’s not been polluted either with chemicals or someone’s inconvenient trash.

It seems that with all the technological ‘progress’ we’ve lost many of the skills and most of the knowledge our ancestors had. And forgotten how to relate to each other. With every technological dependency comes a loss of skill. Try calling a friend without your cellphone in tow. Grow some food. Build your own shelter. Could you even build a little fire if the bundle of firewood wasn’t provided to you? We’re pretty much at the mercy of technology. Without it: prey.

A lot of thoughts and reflection this weekend. As I told Dennis on the ride to Glenwood Springs, I believe that all the answers begin within. It’s a cliche’, but a good one. Once you begin to listen to and BE HONEST with YOURSELF about who you are, what you think, and what you want, the answers will slowly begin to present themselves. It’s a mother being honest with yourself, because there’s no one there to challenge your clever, witty little rationalizations; YOU have to do it! Yet the only way out is brutal honesty: truth. If Gandhi swore by it, it’s good enough for me!

Yet, even trying it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But alas, waiting for Pink Floyd's 'someone or something to show you the way’ is an exercise in futility. No one has your answers but you; trust yourself.

Wayyyy too much idle time this weekend?!?!?!