– Edwin Arlington Robinson
One of my favorite photobloggers, Dalo 2013, wrote a post titled “Don’t Die Wondering.” Reminiscing about a luggage sticker from days past, he suggested that too many of us are Walter Mittys and Miniver Cheevys, cursing our luck instead of making it. To this sage piece of advice, I would now add my own:
In my imagination, I am a knight errant of the back road, astride my trusty steed, the Dustmobile. At my side, the fair maiden Tammy (my wife in real life). Every time we pull onto the highway, another chapter is written in my personal Grail quest: the perfect view, the ultimate vista, the true meaning of life captured in the freeze frame of my windshield. In the words of the world’s greatest fantasy writer, “the road goes ever, ever on.” There is no destination; only journey.
The road is where I live, and it is where I hope to die. Which is why, if I sit still too long, my hindquarters begin to itch, and my heart adamantly beats out a Morse code of its own: Get up! Get UP! GET UP! and GO!
Somewhere out there, the truth awaits. A moment of pure clarity, glimpsed even for a split second, and reality is forever altered. I am added unto. I am made more. I become Who I Am.
Sunset over northern Arkansas: the sun a giant, crimson disc, half-shrouded by a looming bank of clouds, throwing the world into a patchwork of shadow and light. I’m torn between the urge to spur the Dustmobile into a gallop, embracing the convergence of gravity and inertia as we speed out of one curve and into another, and the desire to stop in my tracks and live the perfection of the instant for the rest of time.
Low tide off Holy Island: the sands stretching across the causeway, divided by the receding waters into rivulets of purest silver. Across these very sands wandered the unshod feet of ancient holy men, and their ghosts call me to follow suit. I wander through the grassy dunes, lost in the multitude of pathways, and for a moment I don’t care whether I ever find my way back.
Thunderstorm on the Blue Ridge Parkway: Visibility at zero, knowing the road ahead by instinct only. The rain beating against the vehicle becomes Nature’s heartbeat, and my own matches its rhythm, thump for thump. I do not know where I’m going; I do not care. I just want to keep going, and never stop. I am one with the elements. I am Nature embodied in human form. We are twin forces, the storm and I.
This is the love of my life: fair maiden, trusty steed, and the quest ever before me. I will not die wondering.
I will die wandering.