Lessons from the Road

DSC_0228It’s been a year since our summer road trip. We’ve covered thousands of miles since then, punctuated by two frigid cross-country, storm-eluding, highway-closing for Wyoming wind, driving the snow-covered-dirt-road-detour for miles, turn-the-car-on-in-the-middle-of-the-night to warm our metal tent parked at countless rest areas, fast-red-road-country[1]  crisscrossing moves to the farm; all the while remembering, whom this land once nourished.

It’s almost as if it’s taken half the year to catch our breath! Soaking in our rural sanctuary for recovery; and perhaps, to also forget, for a short while, how long and large this beautiful country really is. But even with the hardships of the road, there has been a depth of value to traveling that has settled into our lives, a bit like muscle memory becoming stronger, turning micro trauma into awakened conviction.

We’re living in a socially constructed world of never-stopping and never-ending production. This supreme disconnection from our bodies is rooted in the belief that we are machines to be hammered by the ever-more-powerful extraction of our time, squeezing more-than-a- body-can-give into a predigested work week box. “I think; therefore I am, and I shall overcome this limitation of needs” becomes the mantra of the disposable; as if, Maslow’s wisdom can be erased; as if, even he didn’t go far enough when he appropriated much of his theory from First Peoples.[2] As if, in our pursuit of conquering nature, we have been turned against our own life needs, turned against the needs of all present and future life, ignoring in a great-profit-seeking-denial that we need to eat, sleep, love one another, and rest. And, we need to do all of this in a world overflowing with clean air, land, water and life.

Of course, that denial can easily be re-enacted on the road, like the time we drove from DSC_0014 Prescott, Arizona, to a campground on the coastal beach in one day to save money; the inhumane push through a 112 degree Mohave fraying my body and mind until right about the time we crossed the coastal range in the blackness of night with invisible ravines on her curvy roads. Thrown into an all-consuming panic, I forced Ron to slow to a snail’s pace. In my exhaustion, I could not keep from imagining falling into the abyss. Descartes might say he was right; my thoughts ruled over my imagination so powerfully that had I been the one driving they might have found us the next day at the bottom of a gorge but I would argue, of course, he was wrong.

He was dead wrong. The abyss was a metaphor for how wrong he has been for centuries, and how dangerously far we’ve fallen by following his lead. No one and no thought can control the sanctity of life, because contrary to the industrialized model, contrary to the miraculous advances in medical add-ons and interventions, contrary to the push to homogenize all-things-living into a one-size-fits-all-profit-seeking-DSC_0011commodity; life is not a machine. No matter how much we deny, no matter how many constructs we create; no matter how many wars are lost by someone, nor how many urban paradises spring up out of the desert, no matter how much cool technology Steve Jobs has created, nor how often bible pushers will tell us our bodies are evil; we are not machines.

[1] Fast Red Road is an amazing novel by indigenous writer Stephen Graham Jones. http://www.demontheory.net/

[2]  https://lincolnmichel.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/maslows-hierarchy-connected-to-blackfoot-beliefs/

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