Wandering

My daughter got her truck back from Hawaii this week and was anxious to take it camping in northern Santa Barbara County. I had told her of a remote beach there, some 18 miles from the main highway, that reminded me of some of the remote, secluded beaches in Hawaii where we had gone camping last winter. The truck came into the Oakland, California shipping terminal on Tuesday, and by Thursday morning she had it all packed with food, sleeping bag, tent, pots & pans, firewood, propane stove, and cooler. This girl grew up with parents who liked to wander the back roads of California in their VW bus in the 60s and 70s. I don’t think that curiosity about what might appear around the next corner in the road will easily depart from her psyche.

The bumper sticker seems so apt that reads “Not all who wander are lost”. I still wander, maybe even more in my mind and in my dreams, than I do on the asphalt paths of America. On the asphalt I need to drive quite some distance to see much new, as I have covered my own home stomping grounds. I know many of the back-road county lanes within a hundred miles of here. But then I forget much too, and need to go back and have another survey of the land from time to time. Even the landscapes I have visited and forgotten, when I return to them to view them once again, have a dream-like quality to them that they did not have before. Maybe the passing of time, the approach to my understanding of the limits, makes physical reality less necessary, less meaningful.

The terrain of thought and emotion seems to continue building inside of me, as if my unconscious life is busy crawling over the maps of new worlds, so that I may one day settle among them. The invisible life gets deeper and wider, and the interest in living within it seems to intensify. Dreams, as well as shadows that dwell between the dreams, and the waking life, take on a new form of greater reality, the longer I live. It’s as if I will just outgrow the physical universe. I imagine waking up one day and never going back to sleep again, but staying awake forever in the land that I used to visit and enjoy in sleeping hours.

The uneven and bumpy terrain that would keep me alert and engaged with the road in my days of earth wandering, might one day become smooth and less consequential if I should miss a turn or go the wrong way at an intersection. So strange that the inward journey would give me so much freedom when compared to the earthly, which demanded attention to particularities. Many of the intuitions I had when growing I had to lay aside in order to engage with this modern abstract construction we call living, but now time allows me to go back and reinvigorate the important things I had put aside. Invisible things I thought I had lost now seem close to me. Sleep lets me come very close to them, while wakefulness removes them from immediacy.

Time seems to have filtered out much of my youthful egoism. A quick turn in the road and I can see that everything coloring my existence for many years has lost its intense color. My life is still within my cognizance, behind me for many miles. It once had such an artificial array of appeal to my senses. It’s rather like a rainbow mist hovering over a spray of water. It hangs above the water and continues to shimmer, and yet seems fragile and dependent on the strong flow of water. Cut off the source of water and the rainbow slips away. What has been close to me and so mesmerizing for all these years seems so ridiculously artificial and contingent on my acknowledging its presence. As I grow older it seems that I might one day be able to disengage the physical phenomena around me altogether and see a greater, more permanent reality underneath this one in which I now wander.

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