“Passion is my lighthouse, my Sherpa, my cave. Passion has guided my art and taught me how to appreciate a bath. I have been his captive. He blackmailed me and drug me ‘round the country by thumb. Passion directed me to her concubines, Belief and Steadfastness, to understand how a functional sedentary life can operate. At times, Passion has violently shaken me and at others he gently patted my back, always reassuring, over and over, that magic is real and divinity is in all things from thrombosis and thought to cheesecake and children. Passion has kept me relentlessly seeking through the jots and crosses of many pens, many pages, much drivel, to the next scene of my soul’s work. She has shown me the hiding spots for strangely-shaped keys to doors that open to rooms. In these rooms, full of color and shadow, I am most often shown how to connect deeply and gracefully wherever it is healthy. Not as often, it is unveiled how I will be served while I am serving there. And whether he is at my side or in the fore, it is never without Passion that I move.” – The Thousand Mile Thumb
“I’m certain that these prodigious entanglements are the genuine initiative in every quest of mine, for without human influence, the precious fuel that sustains and energizes my creative spirit becomes barren.” -LT, of California
“She said achieving a goal is like a flight from New York to LA. “The departure location is clear,” she nodded, “and I know where I’m going to land. Just like a flight plan, it is, technically, a straight line. But hardly EVER do planes follow that path. They must account for weather, more air traffic, and geography. 90% of the time the pilot is technically off the line, not on a notable flight plan. This does not mean the start and finish are altered, nor that the weather or people or situations at the start and finish will even feel “right”. It simply means you will be lifted up, and then you will land.”
The steps to a large goal inevitably unfold in an incongruous progression that at times will seem devastating in their lack of connection. The route to your destination might even seem monotonous, backwards, and stupid; these are confirmations unto themselves.
If it matters to you, then you will be tested. Remember, and only STRIVE to enact, that patience is saintly. Eat, drink, move, and celebrate as time passes; do whatever it takes to remember what you want is happening!”
-The Thousand Mile Thumb
His eyes were sunken. “Notice the immutability of the laws you have learned,” the dying man said to me, “and the impermanence of your life. Spirit has been here. You have not. Stones have been formed over millions of years; you, over 9 months. Animals, plants, the elements and this earth have assailed existence over what we only perceive to be time. Yet our walk here is hilariously, impossibly short. Although you are young, and believe yourself eternal, one day you will see that your hands have become grey, splotched, veiny. You will be bald. You will smell. Yes gradually, awfully, your body will fail you.” He cleared his throat.
I was studying his words like the patterns in his green eyes, trying to remember them, knowing I would forget inflection, punctuation.” I know because you are young you will forget this. But it is when your hands look like mine feel, it is then I hope you will remember this: do not be afraid. If there is no room for anything, at any age, in any situation, EVER, please, young ‘un, remember: there is NO ROOM FOR FEAR. Do not be afraid. I beg of you. As you move through the world with less terror and more solidity, you will find peace.”
I stood very still. I said nothing. He continued in this moment of lucidity. “When you begin to quell this irrationality of fear, I believe this: merely your existence will loosen and challenge those around you to do the same. To live freely. To be happy. Young ‘un, if you do this now, you will be full. You will be joy-full, even through your sorrows.”
-The Thousand Mile Thumb
An article I wrote for an E-Newsletter through The Gellar Center in Fort Collins, CO:
“What was that?” he asked. “Did you hear that?”
I shrugged. “That branch cracking?”
My friend Mahdi was visiting. We were sitting behind my secluded trailer home in the abundant northern mountains of Colorado. We faced a shaking aspen grove under an opal sky. The wind blew a melody. Small birds darted through branches unruffled. I had been bragging about all the animals I’d seen since moving here: coyote, bobcat, bald eagles, deer, and even a few humans. Mahdi wanted to see something wild too, so every noise would jettison our attention in the quiet hope it had been created by some leviathan of his dreams, or at least a vision of a National Geographic cover.
“I bet it’s an animal,” I said. We watched, squinting and fixating on the mass of trees in the general direction of the sound.
A lumbering, incorporeal moose emerged from the evergreen and headed straight towards us. We marveled and sat back, enraptured, landlocked, as this absurd creature sauntered nearer, a massive body and bobbing horse-like head, gaining momentum as it paced on baroque, knobby legs, moreso impossible paltry stilts than appendages. As it drew close, we saw how fluffy the hair on its lustrous brown body was, still mohawk’d from a rambling youth. Fledgling white spots of childhood were still strewn across it’s saddle. Two horns protruded from its brow, swinging in careless gait. It seemed almost to glide as it passed through the golden beams of a finishing day, and the dark grasses of looming night.
Earlier, I was talking with a long-time resident on the volunteer fire department. She’d been at the weekly meeting. The question was asked, “What is the most dangerous animal in the Colorado mountains in spring?” She frowned and grunted, then told me, “It’s actually the moose, you know! I guess they aren’t scared of anything. And don’t come between a mama and its child.” Her eyes grew wide. She whistled low. “Those things charge you, it’s a thousand pounds and you’re done, baby.”
I furrowed my brow at our pending situation and opened my mouth to say something, but Mahdi beat me to it. “Should we get up? We should get up, he’s getting close-“
“I think we’ll be alright,” I answered. I didn’t think that at all, nor did I know why I said that. “I mean, he probably wouldn’t just steamroll us, would he?” It slowed to a stop directly in front of us and swung it’s fat head in our direction. It was no less than five yards away. Had the breeze been blowing towards us, we would have smelled the brutish lunacy of its unhampered adolescence. It’s eyes drooped, exposing the gumball pink below russet-colored pupils. Its look seemed, to me, utterly vacant, an undetectable mood that prompted immediate discomfort.
“We should go inside. We should move, you think?” Mahdi said. His voice was an octave higher than usual. Whose heartbeat was I hearing increase in rapidity?
A bizarre, terrific fear began to bloat inside me as well. “Yeah… but… what would he do if we moved suddenly?” I scratched my chin. The pendulous flap which hung from the young buck’s jaw swung as the moose watched us watching it. I said, “I’m not sure what to do.”
It struck me this moment was nothing shy of moronic. We should have been inside; yet it was just a young moose. This burgeoning dread was based on the volatility of an uncouth wilderness.
Fear is essential. It resides only in questions. It is one way bewilderment enters the daily life. Bewilderment exists when a cacophonous break in the life-pattern is so incapacitating and unusual that it can elicit only panic, founded in the unfamiliar. Bewilderment is integral for the most important endeavors in life, like adventure, love, and spirituality. It is a sign of being TRULY alive, by being aggressed out of the tedium that routine can manifest. Unfortunately, many believe the idea (in largess, too!) that bewilderment, and fear, are BAD. The blithe and amiable know this is not the case, and that bewilderment is integral to living with a violin sensitivity. As the poet Rilke said, “…learn to love the questions themselves.” When you do this, it becomes clear the EXPERIENCE is the goal, and one of note will contain some level of bewilderment. Because it is obligatory, it can be simultaneously glorious and incapacitating.
The moose presented us with a refulgent moment of bewilderment. Finding us lackluster, it continued on its path north, and we returned to the susurrus of our mindlessness. What a grand life it is, that we can be reminded of our hearts beating in the face of unpredictable beauty.
“The noise was outrageous, palpable; talking was impossible. I watched Teatime as we sat on the deck of the grainer, barelling along. I could tell he’d been altered since our meeting a year prior. Both of us had been moving since then. His worldly selflessness was gone, to be been replaced with a gravelly, meat-grinding crunch in his voice. It wasn’t a smoker’s throat; rather it was that of a terrific, depressed alcoholic, living a metal-on-asphalt life. He’d long surpassed his days of youthful dabbling in travel; his evolution into this new persona was nearing completion. His tone was different and strange, as though he was a child impersonating an adult; it was desperate, like a Lost Boy.
When he spoke, though, him drunk for ten hours now, I only saw his cherubic, hyperactive side. He was rolling himself another cigarette and leaned over. “I LOVE NEW ORLEANS, I LOVE IT!” he yelled to me over the din of the freight on the tracks. “Watch for all these bayou’s and marshes, they’ll only get thicker all over the place, man, oh JESUS, HOO!” His long hair and beard whipped in the wind. He pointed to the passing landscape, either a million swamps and bogs or one gigantic, soupy mass poured over gnarled elder trees. Southern Mississippi was waking up with us in this moronic AM adventure, tipped and mossy, hanging and wet, a cruel landscape in the charcoal mist. We were flying, the freight car coupled to ours screeching, scenery a blur of green, brown, blue…
We blasted out of the bogs and over Lake Pontchartrain. It was just us and water. Seabirds were diving and swooping over grey frilly waves moving and long, battling to nowhere, as though the whole world had been flooded and drawn out. Teatime leapt up and climbed the ladder to the top of the train. I could hear him mindlessly hollering, bellowing to announce his arrival to a city still miles away. I stayed in my same spot so damned cold and exhausted, I was immobilized in my fury. I looked up to see he was clinging to the ladder, in his wet socks, quiet, staring down at me. He was wild-eyed and lucid with a grin years wide. He raised his eyebrows at me, the lake sneering well below us on this rickety wooden bridge. The train stomped. I watched him disappear over the edge of the top once more.
I realized then what I would NOT be anymore, or pretend I COULD be, or even thought reasonable to pursue: the stupid fruitless gluttony and excess that Teatime, once Peter, an old road friend, had crafted his new identity under. While I felt torn between a responsibility as his roaddog and my own selfishness, I already knew our time together was over. There was more to life than just moving; there was living. I couldn’t see a sliver of meaning in the pursuit of more drink! More! He was a hoarder of vices, a self-destructive magician, and a total madman. It must, I justified to myself, be a psychosis, him so spiraling, mindless. The romance seemed to drain from the paisley of our time as I realized the folly’s of our jaunt.
I’d failed. I couldn’t make it to Florida this way. I couldn’t keep up with him. Finally, someone from my past had gone deeper into the rabbit hole of The Road than I had, and become nothing less than the extremes of the lifestyle itself. Worse, perhaps, was an uncertain realization that it didn’t matter whether I joined him or not. He’d continue with another fifth, another kid, another train. New Orleans would be another ending, another beginning.” – February 2011, The Thousand Mile Thumb
“How many times had I reluctantly shied away from a feeling? Perhaps concealed an unrealized muse? Curiosity of the unknown exploded like fireworks in a darkened sky and chaos ensued as a heightened sense of self grew uncomfortably loud. Time came and went and in turn went all flawed reasoning. I managed to get out of my own head and welcomed the impulse as a natural reaction to the unvarnished gravity that had moved me towards you.”
– April, 2012, A penpal