Friday, August 30, 2013

Shifting Gears

Things have changed.  My thoughts of late have been more in tune with John Denver than Jack Kerouac, who was the original inspiration for these writings.  I seem to be drawn more these days to "...seeking grace in every step he takes."
 instead of
"...we gotta go and never stop going 'till we get there.'
'Where we going, man?'
'I don't know but we gotta go.” 
So it is that I have slowed down a little, and have taken to wearing a hat.

It's not  cap, like a baseball cap, but a real hat.  It's a good hat.  It suits me.  I bought it at the arts festival earlier this summer from an interesting little man who makes the hats himself. He also gave me an amazingly clear crystal for free that he said he dug out of a cave in Alabama. Or it might have been Arkansas.  Anyway, he told me to put it under my pillow and see what dreams may come.  So I did, and had a pretty cool dream.  Someone who is likely to read this was in that dream, but dreams are private things so I can't go into details.  I will just say it was a simple dream, nothing very exciting or wild. Just sort of a partly truth and partly fiction recollection of my younger days.  The next morning I took it out from under my pillow and put it away.  Once was enough, for now.  Don't want to use it up.  I may need it later.

A lot more of my time this year has been spent hiking and bicycling in the Black Hills , rather than on motorcycle road trips.  After so many years I'm still finding new points of interest and re-discovering locations right around here ... places that I've been to before but not fully explored.  I always seem to find something new and fresh in even the most familiar places.  One I keep going back to is 11th Hour Gulch.  It's always an adventure there.  The sign on the side of the highway is gone and the entrance is completely covered with vegetation, so if you don't know about this place you would just drive on by without realizing it was even there.

In winter the side of the sheer rock wall becomes a sheet of ice, thick enough for ice climbers to test their skills.  In summer the trickling water down the side interacting with the minerals creates a kaleidoscope of color on the rock.

I love these little treks into nature.  And, although it's great to have company,  sometimes I like to be alone.  No offense intended to my fellow travelers and occasional companions, family or otherwise, but sometimes I prefer quiet solitude to companionship. 

After writing that last paragraph, I stopped for the night and resumed the next morning, which happens to be this morning.  And, after some thoughtful reflection and a good night's sleep, I have realized that the spirit of Jack Kerouac is still in me.  The following passage from On The Road comes to mind -
“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” 
For me it's not only the mad ones.  It's also the fun ones, unusual ones, outcasts, misfits, and some that are just so unlike me that I'm inexplicably drawn to them ...

So, I guess things really haven't changed all that much.  Perhaps it's just that as time passes thoughts begin to creep in about how physical changes on the outside of oneself must inevitably lead to changes on the inside, too.  Changes in the way you think and act.   But I realize that this doesn't have to be true.  I can still seek grace in every step I take, whether those steps are are on a trail beside a clear cool mountain stream or on a busy city sidewalk.
And I can wear a hat if I want to.  I don't care if it makes me look old.  I am kind of old, and don't have a problem with that.  So if you see me coming your way wearing my new hat, tell me you like it.  Even if you don't.  It's not really a lie.  It's just being kind.  We need more kindness these days.