Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
~ William Ernest Henley ~ "Invictus"
Hard on the keyboard this early morning, my lid suddenly blew off and the power of any thoughts towards more editing our book vanished while the ribbons of road emerged as true images unraveling. It did not need to be just a dream, a desire or even a wish. We are indeed both, Spirit and I, the captains of our own souls. That is all what was needed as the laptop shut down, helmet and gloves in hand, the ignition key turned, the engine light came on followed by the crisps sound of a well tuned exhaust and on we rolled.
Spirit knows the drill too well. Words are not even necessary. He watches me, observes and when he realizes it is that time, his composure changes from a tourist like sun bather, to this serious executive with his walk becoming firmer and eyebrows a bit tighter to sharpen his vision and probably his mind. He, on his own, jumps into his sidecar. All I need to do is clamp his harness, put his goggles on and snap the chin strap of his helmet. He takes on and will keep this serious look. He is all set. With some extra water, food, SAT phone and all the paraphernalia one hangs on to these days, we are both all set.
That Sunday was a hot day. I knew the day because since October 11th I have had a calendar staring at me daily. And a clock. It is also the day my Mother and I would talk longer. I don’t know why it had to always be that day, but it was special and comfort always filled the both of us while sitting back, listening to each other, together solving all the questions life would demand. We thought we did. I talked to her that day from inside my helmet. For those who have never ridden, I cannot explain or express the presence and closeness riding brings to one’s soul.
The relief emerged from the first mile on. It had been a few days since our last ride as I have been going through double shifts of editing. March 10th is the deadline for the start of the publishing steps. It is just a book I keep telling myself, but deep down I am pulling up from this ledge which only one more arm is needed to reach the peak. Terlingua, Big Bend Park, Marathon, Alpine and back here to The Oasis. A loop we have done so many times. Same old and all new as always.
So much thinking goes on when the miles unravel on those more or less straight roads of this region. It is truly astonishing. I often have to force myself remembering those thoughts, or simply pull over to write them down while waving at the rare vehicle passing by letting them know we are alright and not broken down. They see me using a phone in an area where there is no cell service and probably think this poor guy, this tourist and his dog, needs some help! Sometimes the thoughts are deep and serious, sometimes silly, other times, fantasies triggered by a certain reality as an excerpt I wrote a while back…
“A squirrel froze in its steps, up he looked, right he went, stopped, changed his mind, one more look, indecision and I lost vision of him. I did not feel a thump nor did I see him in my rear view mirrors. One saved life. Half a mile later, probably one of his long lost cousins, now a bloody mass adorned the pavement ahead of me awaiting the buzzards probably on their way for breakfast. This time indecision seemed to have taken his own life. I looked up and amid the clouds playing, a jet is being followed by his own white trail disturbing the present canvas. Lightning fast he is from here to there, gone so quick. I thought of its 300 or so passengers. Each in their own tight seat with their little fold down tables in front of them, volume of sound knobs tucked into their armrests, more knobs above for light and artificial air. They were probably having breakfast. One of a different kind zapped by the microwaves the attendants were using. They did not have to wait for the squirrel’s indecision to be served. Was the Captain awake? Or maybe dreaming about a limo with a driver wearing a blue cap picking him up from the airport?”
The thoughts do have meaning. Fortunately or unfortunately!
So we chatted in Terlingua, we did the same in Panther Junction, again in Marathon where we stopped at the papercrete dwellings and Alpine. I missed that. It was not only the ride but an unobstructed momentum of the day from time while only following the sun’s height in the sky. I missed that abandonment of one self when only wandering with no set destination. We did not have to make that loop, the idea was to get a morsel of a freedom from the road, an aspect I have left behind these past months while undertaking this book project.
I also thought about something I had written a while back. I read it the other day, it jumped at me shrinking that space of time between then and now, proving me so much has remained the same. We might think we are broken and need some fixing, but we are not. It is just plain life often not understandable, even bizarre if one starts looking around, life which keeps us going until our own time comes. Graciously I might add.
“I read another comment one day “Ara, your photography is simply awesome. However my friend, your commentary is a bit too abstract, too deep and is contradictory to the beauty of your photos. Neither do justice to each other…”. I grimaced when I read those words. I knew they had a certain reality to their meaning and represented the opinion of many who would prefer brighter spoken words on my pages, a better entertainment value, maybe even an in-depth ride report which is the fashion and a dime a dozen. Such were never my goals. I felt that my awareness has a particular brightness to it and not a numbness. Of course there are peaks and valleys as in everyone’s lives. My pages written, my life lived so freely, none are meant to hide in those valleys and peek out only when on the summits. Reality encompasses the complete array of life, the eternal balance and without one scale, such balance would always be tipped. I had always let it all out and I still do, as I write for myself so often reading back my own words discovering over and over where that day’s mile marker was. In the words of Dr Seuss ‘Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind’.”
It was a fine ride and so was the day. I felt "me" again and I have no doubt Spirit did also, even though he did he asked me one more time when we were getting a dog like everyone else so he would have someone to play with while I played with this keyboard.
Ara and Spirit