The Road Home
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Jun. 16th, 2010 | 01:07 am
The mountains themselves were capped with a heavy snowpack which had begun to melt rapidly due to the warmer temperatures of the past several days. As a result, the Walker River, which had flowed at a normal pace on the journey up, was now swelled to almost capacity, and was rushing wildly through the unparalleled beauty of the forest. Ah, but what no one else seemed to notice was that some of the whitecaps were wraiths, some of their faces twisted into watery grimaces, others blank as if possessing no awareness whatsoever. Faces in the water. Men. Women. Children. Forever caught in some macabre recreation of their deaths, I presumed. Ghosts of the river. Spirits of the water. Tumbling and pitching, but always with their faces pointed in the direction of the flow, to the north or the east, depending on the bend of the river... disappearing in shafts of sunlight, becoming visible again as the bank of the river bent underneath the shade of the tall pines. "Going nowhere forever," the voice of silent knowing whispered. "Caught in the finality of their own final moments, awareness trapped in the energetic fabric of the milieu itself, like a photograph embedded on the fabric of time."
But all too soon the river was gone, left behind as we continued along the lonesome road. A dead deer alongside the road stared upward, its lifeless brown eye reflecting the sky and the clouds, eternity caught in a mirror from which all awareness had departed. I wanted to weep, yet what would have been the point. So I smiled to myself instead. appreciating for a moment whatever life the young deer had lived. Brief, but hopefully sweet. Perhaps some fresh spring grass still in his mouth to go with the clouds in his eyes. That would be nice, though I rather doubt his last moments on Earth were in any way pleasant.
Further along the highway, a dragon lay sleeping in an open meadow. Yes, a real dragon. Or so it seemed. Perhaps 50 feet long, with golden wings and a scaly brown body. Sharply pointed ears, and a lovely tail that curled around the muscular hind legs, just so. Since Wendy was driving and didn't see it, I chose to keep it to myself, making no comment. No point arguing the "reality" of dragons, for then perhaps it would have become just another odd rock formation, just an array of sharp boulders with orange flowers growing nearby to give the illusion of wings. At that moment, I did not want the illusion shattered, so I simply let it go right on being a dragon. He winked as I made the decision, and it was a silence we shared out there in the nothing. Just me and the beastie. No consensus. No agreement. No argument. Dragons are good gentles, he told me in some universal language. Keep down the human hunters and escort the souls of road-slain deer to the Otherworld in their spare time. Yes, I decided dragons are much maligned, so I said nothing of his presence. And then he, too, was gone, just another odd memory from an odd journey down an odd road somewhere at the edge of time.
Further along, near the river but not close enough to see it, a run-down trailer park looking like something out of a Stephen King novel nestled up under the trees, and four little boys ranging in age from perhaps 3-8 had stripped down to their boxers and were spraying one another with the hose. The sight was incongruous but somehow perfectly preserved like a faded photograph in an old family album. As I watched, the boys grew up, exchanged their Buster Browns for business suits, one spending too much time in jail, one becoming a successful businessman, the other two living more or less uneventful lives... then in the rearview mirror, just old men sitting in front of an abandoned trailer somewhere in the dark forest at the edge of the River Lethe. Time chewed them up, spit them back out. They never saw it coming, never felt the cold brush of death until it was upon them, never stopped to wonder what might have been different had they turned left instead of right.
It wasn't a matter of judging them, just a matter of observing what was - not just in those 4 little boys with so much potential, but in the world at large. Live the programs long enough, buy into the dictates of the foreign installation too long... and life is over before it ever begins. Yesterday we were children, the voice of silent knowing reminded. Today we are warriors. And tomorrow we will die.
What we do in the interim determines our fate.
By the time we arrived home, the sun was low on the horizon, and descending into Yucca Valley was like a homecoming that was comfortrable and yet all too disturbing. The Joshua trees were dropping their seed pods, struggling to recreate themselves. Ravens perched atop the tall telephone poles, their mouths open to shed off the approach of summer, the desert heat. Standing in the driveway after Wendy had gone inside, the world was bright with all manner of bloom: acacia tree, oleander, ocotillo, and at least 4 different colors of cactus. Life asserting itself, dancing its colorful dance... then all too quickily losing its blossoms to the unrelenting wind.
The moon was barely a sliver, a faint whisper. Venus or Jupiter dangled from the crescent like a crystal reflecting the sun.
The crack between the worlds stood open in a way I had never quite seen it before. Like a doorway from one world to another, yet both worlds were the same world except in how they are perceived. Life. Death. Breath and awareness being the only dividing line.
I breathed. An exchange of energy between the observer and the observed.
The road is behind me now. And still and always ahead.
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