Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ATX Redux II: The Ghost of St. Patrick

I'm nothing if not honest. Perhaps I've said this before. It's not to say I'm good, just that I admit what I've done wrong or poorly and there is plenty of that believe me. Often my honesty was probably the wrong thing and has gotten me into trouble. There was a time today when I was ready to abandon the walk altogether. At least for the time being. I'm not going to, but it was a fleeting thought.

Until now this walk has given me so much, it's hard when that tide turns on you. Now that I am slowing down when I want to be speeding up there is a cost associated with each day. If I am held up a week than there goes Hawaii or Buenos Aires or Honduras or Prague, one of the trips I felt I needed at the end of this vanishes in between the end of the walk and my time at Survival School. One of the many points of this walk for me was to let go of the silly things that become priorities so that I could really live life to it's fullest, what do I do now that that full life is being limited by this journey? I thought about putting the walk aside for a bit, taking a long break and returning to finish after the Summer when I might need it again. My head oscillates back and forth these days a lot, I find meaning and I lose it, it's not as present as before even though there is still something there. Right now, at this moment I am resolved to finish, I believe this side will always win the battle, the irony is, that if my knee continues to bother me than it may be a moot point anyway.

I would hate to have walked over 2500 miles and have it all end with such a whimper of a sore knee, but the reality is that the country I'm coming up against will need all of me. It's the hardest part of my journey in many ways and I need to be in good shape for it.

The day itself was what you would call wonderful, despite my interior monologue. I got to spend the day with my old friend from Philly, she's the singer whose amazing voice pulled me far more into the musical world than I had ever been before. She was also the start of the trend of banjos which have followed me across the country. I got to hear her perform at an open mic tonight for the first time and it was incredible, I wasn't the only one who thought so, person after person came up to tell her or I how good she was. Her band is called papertrees, check them out on myspace.

I can't say why her music effects me the way it does, I think that there are certain pitches or smells or tastes that just reach specific people in ways that they don't reach other people. For me it's Philly's voice or the scent of Vanilla, for someone else who knows, but it seems like I'm not the only one who likes Philly's voice. After the open mic she went outside and performed on the street for a bit, a young guy came up and after a while plugged his ears.

"If I hear this next part I'll fall in love with you," he said thinking of the note coming up. And with that he walked off, fingers still in his ears, homeless people dancing around in front of her. There was something very naked and brave about a street performance which i could see. No stage, no intended audience, just throwing yourself out there and hoping someone is listening and likes it enough to let you know. I've seen performers where this wasn't the case, where they were just stroking themselves by playing where people were, but that wasn't the case here and it is something to watch and empathize with.

When she went off I met up with my Irish friend who brought me to Austin, Colin, we went to a few bars in honor of the day and his nation and had a shot of whiskey each and a few beers before I headed off. He told me that he could definitely drop me off back in Sterling City next Tuesday and that sounded like an excellent plan to me.

Walking home I climbed the short fence into a playground where I sat on the swing set and looked up at the stars which weren't as bright as they were out on the edge of Sterling City. I was singing one of Philly's songs. The day was sweeping over me, through me, not just through my mind but through my body. I could feel the entire trip almost oozing through my body front to back, happiness pouring through my muscles and heartbreak making my bones brittle. It was like a whole life flashing through me but with none of the adrenalin of a near death experience to toughen you for the experience. Sometimes I wonder if I was meant to experience so much when the weigh of it all weighs me down so much I just want to collapse at times underneath it all, the good and the bad.

Call it fatigue, but it could be something else. Being confronted with the path behind me reminds me that in ways I am just a ghost passing through other peoples lives, no more permanent than a breeze and as grateful as you can sometimes be for a breeze, you just as quickly forget it until it comes through again. This is the thing about missing Honduras or Prague or wherever at the end of it all, the places will always be there, but it is friends I wanted to see as well. These places occupy the slot of permanence in my life that is so otherwise vacant, the things that were and if I take care of them, can always be. Permanence is something I miss on the road, a relationship, romantic or otherwise, is something that is natural to hunger for no matter how happy you may otherwise be.

Juxtaposed against the lack of permanence is also the newly felt lack of novelty. Although it is true that every place and person I meet is different and I take something from all of it, I felt incredibly alive yesterday moving at high speeds and doing the unexpected, going off course and tasting something that is really different from what I've had for the last six and a half months. With so short of a distance relatively speaking I have a hard time even logically drawing a line where I would want to take a break if I were to, and so I probably won't, but it seems like the desert that lies in front of me will act as a purgatory of sorts and that perhaps will hold within it many new challenges that perhaps I need to face but are not as exciting as the challenges from before. Maybe this is where I further my lessons in humility and the cost of dreams, maybe it will be a reality check or a realignment with societal thought, I can't say and honestly I feel tired a lot of the time even thinking about it. I've been rubber raw emotionally and it seems like the whole range of it is constantly flooding me, what keeps me going is the thought of seeing old, pre-walk friends along the way and feeling a moment of solid ground beneath me.

I've said to many people, "Everyone wants to find themselves but no one is willing to lose themselves first." I thought I had done this, but I suppose I could pull back another layer because amidst this wonderful day I felt like a lost bobbing buoy of a man.

As a special treat, here's some footage of Philly playing:


1 comment:

Dixxe Doodles said...

Seems that words of wisdom may be needed here...I wish I had some, maybe its not wisdom but encouragement--
I dont think one thing can be exchanged for another...if you abandon your walk could you enjoy that trip to Prague as much as you will with your walk secured in your memory banks--neatly tucked into your life experiences? Try not looking forward to what you will do when your trip is over & look forward to what lies just around the next curve. You have no idea what is waiting it could be the best thing that every came your way. The desert coming up is one of the most hostile and yet beautiful regions of this country. Live in the moment and allow tomorrow to wait for YOU! Now some wisdom:
The more I consider the condition of the white men, the more fixed becomes my opinion that, instead of gaining, they have lost much subjecting themselves to what they call the laws and regulations of civilized societies.

Tomochichi - Creek Chief