Day 9, June 6, 2005
Many of you asked how I was going to occupy my thoughts as I was cycling across country. The assumption being that I would have lots of time to think, or that I would have huge amounts of boring time as I cycled. Some of you wanted to make sure I thought about something. Andy and Julie gave me the book “Being Perfect” by Anna Quindlen. I read the book on the plane ride to Oregon and highly recommend the book.
The book discusses all the wasted time we spend pursuing perfection. Toward the end of the book, Quindlen writes, “And sitting there, you will fall into the center of yourself. You will look for some core to sustain you. And if you have been perfect all your life and have managed to meet all the expectations of your family, your friends, your community, your society, chances are excellent that there will be a black hole where that core ought to be.”
That’s worth thinking about. When I read it, my first reaction was that Anna Quindlen had definitely read “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville. I read “Moby Dick” twice. The first time did not stick at all. The second time was eye opening. I have this passage from the “Chapter 35 – The Mast-Head” highlighted in my copy:
“But lulled into such an opium-like listlessness of vacant, unconscious reverie is this absent-minded youth by the blending cadence of waves with thoughts, that at last he loses his identity; takes the mystic ocean at his feet for the visible image of that deep, blue, bottomless soul, pervading mankind and nature; and every strange, half-seen, gliding, beautiful thing that eludes him; every dimly discovered, uprising fin of some indiscernible form, seems to him the soul by continually flitting through it. In this enchanted mood, thy spirit ebbs away to whence it came; becomes diffused through time and space; like Cranmer’s sprinkled Pantheistic ashes, forming at last a part of
ever shore the round globe over.
There is no life in thee, now, except that rocking life imparted by a gently rolling ship; by her, borrowed from the sea; by the sea, from the inscrutable tides of God. But while this sleep, this dream is on ye, move your foot or hand an inch; slip your hold at all; and your
identity comes back in horror. Over Descartian vortices you hover. And perhaps, at mid-day, in the fairest weather, with one half-throttled shriek you drop through that transparent air into the summer sea, no more to rise for ever. Heed it well, ye Pantheists!”
Now all of that seems very lofty, so here is a condensed version of what I actually thought about today:
“Good-bye Montana, there is highway 95, now I’m heading south and I still can’t find the information station so I’ll stop at that Chevron station and buy some maps and study them over a coffee and donut when a woman sits down across from me striking up a conversation about her two stints in the Peace Corp in the 60’s, how she is a trust fund girl hitchhiking across the country studying history and confounding the social service establishment who all think she is homeless and how motorists devise strategies to harass her which gets me back on the road to engage in my own interaction with motorists heading south on highway 95 swinging west on 3rd avenue and south on Elmore Road full of swoosh, coast, and grunts past Echo Avenue which turns out to be the turn to take as Elmore Road becomes gravel, then a paved cow-path, then gravel before heading east into Pearl Road almost wiping out in some of the soft gravel and wrenching the 90 pounds of bike and gear back up just in time to say “Howdy” to the guy sitting in the pickup watching me as Pearl becomes paved in time to turn south on Apple Valley Road until I stop in Parma for lunch then backtrack to Wamstad, south to highway 18 to Rodeo Lane to Dixie Road to Batt Corner Road (isn’t – or wasn’t Phil Batt the governor of Idaho) but gravel looms again so turn west on Red Top Road to Highway 95 (wasn’t I on this road) and south to Market Road east, south, east, south, too far, north, east, south on North Edison to Bruneau highway and wondering which way the rain clouds are heading as I wait in Marsing before crossing the Snake River and heading east on Marsing Road – oh no, road construction – so south on Perch Road and west on Lewis Lane where a tractor pulling some device has just pulled out motoring along at 14 miles per hour allowing me to catch him on the first downhill while deciding safety is paramount and do not pass waiting patiently for three miles before he finally turns off shortly before reaching Highway 45 and another Chevron station to ask directions finding out the nearest motel is 4 miles north in Nampa where I find the Desert Inn motel.”
Yep – that’s my deep thinking for the day.