Sunday, June 26, 2011

Drive Time

            Friday morning I’m on the road by eight am, driving out of Klamath Falls, headed for Willamette Pass, and the quirky little town I call home.  It’s been a long week, living out of a hotel room, working long hours.
            The long, blue span of Klamath Lake recedes on my left, and I am in the desert hills working my way north.  As I drive, there is only the hum of tires on pavement to keep me company.  The events of the week slip away.  I put on some music, turn it off after only a couple of minutes.  The silence is more soothing.
            Belatedly, I realize I am in a mindful state.  I am alert and aware, tracking the hazards on the road, but my mind is free of discursive thought.  I watch each mile tick by, one about every minute.  It’s almost like watching the breath come and go.  The highway is flanked on both sides by rolling hills covered in sagebrush.  Momentarily, I am startled by a deer standing on the side of the road, and I slow, my attention completely focused for just a moment.  When I’m past, the cruise control set back at 65, the mind state returns instantly, naturally.  This is where healing happens.
            I stop in a little town called Chemult and get a bottle of water, make a phone call.  And then, back to my two-lane, blacktop guru.  Up on the pass, there is a brief moment when the trees are mixed, Douglas Fir and Ponderosa pine.  And then, suddenly, they are all Douglas Fir, and the underbrush thickens steadily.  At about three thousand feet of elevation, I sight the first bracken fern by the roadside.  Internally, I cheer.
            I’m home.  The desert has its own beauty, but the ferns and high underbrush of the western valley are my home.  The air is pouring into my little world inside the car, and smells richly of wet earth.
            Now I’m counting down the miles from Oakridge, now the short stretch of I-5, and there is exit 192, Downtown Eugene.  For thirty minutes, I can’t make myself go inside.  I wander the streets, people watching, feeling the aura of my hometown, putting it back on.  And then, suddenly, I’m so tired I can hardly stand.  I go home, nap for a couple of hours, and return to town.
            And have a beer with my lovely friend, Brittney, who regales me with tales of a summer festival here last weekend.  What a beautiful way to return to discursive thought.  If I must.

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