The Magic that was this Journey

Sunday, May 29, 2011

14 – 5/29/11: Love, Magic, Loss and the Journey

I’ve been home a month and, because I've often been asked for the “elevator speech” about my trip, I’ve had many opportunities to reflect upon the 12 weeks and 8,000 miles that was this odyssey of a journey (facilitated by an RV called Odyssey!). 

Like Ulysses (or Odysseus), this journey was part homecoming, part discovery, part ego, part identity and part grace.

Traveling around our country, having intimate knowledge of the places we call “home,” imprinted upon me images and stories of places and people, stories I couldn’t access before this trip.  In a way, this trip was coming home to my own county, “owning” both the darkness and light that is who we are, and coming home to the who that I am at this age, in this moment of time. 

As has been written about Odysseus’ journey: 

The theme of temptation as a psychological peril is portrayed by the sirens who lure sailors to their deaths by seduction. They represent the ideal audience—they sing about the most glorious moment of your life, thus tempting you to stay the hero or warrior they are portraying you as. Your own weakness makes you vulnerable, your greatest weakness comes from inside you.

While I’ve come home to who I am, I'm shedding those things that tempt me to hang on to the most glorious moments of my life, to learn to get ego out of the way of myself and others.

The gods disguised themselves on Odysseus’ journey because the only way they could interact with mortals was through disguise.  As I’ve told stories about my journey, I’ve talked about how the gods, disguised or not, were or were not on my side. The weather gods and the gods of synchronicity were on my side. The gods of not-backing-into-things?  Not so much.

We avoided, magically, the horrible weather this country experienced the last few months.  We were on the banks of the Mississippi before it reached flood stage (I imagine the park at which we overnighted in Natchez, MS is completely under water).  We were 60 miles west of the tornado that blew through a small town in Louisiana. While we encountered winter temperatures as we headed north, we only encountered snow on the mountain passes in Washington.  Magically, we were in northern Wisconsin the one week of spring-tease, before the snows returned.

And the gods of synchronicity smiled upon us.  For example, we pulled into Madison, Wisconsin the day the “Fab 14” (the 14 Democratic Senators who absented themselves to prevent a quorum) returned to the Wisconsin senate and the day before a mid-term election. I got to get a feeling for what happened in Madison earlier this year, only because I was there on that specific day.

In contrast, we pulled into Bismarck, North Dakota on the day a conservative, Republican senator gave a speech defending why North Dakota needed to spend money on infrastructure and its people.  

North Dakota is one of few states with a budget in the black because of the recent discovery of what may be the largest oil reserve in the world, The Bakken.  It is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska 's Prudhoe Bay and is said to have the potential to eliminate all American dependence on foreign oil.  Needless to say, it is a boon for state government.

This Senator was speaking to the protesters in Bismarck, a group very different from the protestors in Madison.  Bismarck protesters were “Tea Party” members and the like, protesting spending reserves for infrastructure and for programs to help those in need.  This Senator, as conservative as those to whom he was speaking, stood up and defended the need for public goods and the need to take care of ourselves and our neighbors.  Remarkable.

And, of course, we can’t forget that I pulled into Louisiana the Friday before Fat Tuesday (and had no idea what day it was!).

I could tell story after story from this journey about the gods of synchronicity being on my side.  That is the grace that was this trip. Thank you, gods of synchronicity.

And, then, there are the gods of not-backing-into-things, whom didn’t appear to be on my side.  As I told my parents who were quite concerned with my ability to safely drive the rig home, I backed up hundreds of times on the journey and only backed into things four or five times (who is counting?).  It’s too bad that each of those times damaged both the rig and the things I backed into (I apologize to the universe for the trees I marked).

As it turned out, backing into my parent’s tree was the best thing that I could have done. The Beast, she’s a lemon.  She is rotted, through and through (the walls are rotted, a side-effect of living in this damp climate).  It’s even a small miracle she made it 8,000 miles without falling apart.  So, the insurance company is sending her to salvage, I’m out more than a few grand and I’m working my way through my grief about the end of our relationship.  For, you see, I had a deep relationship with her.  I thought we were going to stay together for a while.  Alas, this is not the case.  As in all areas of life, everything is temporary.  Love while you can.

RIP, you lovely Beast: 1991-2011.

Finally, as many of you already know, my beloved younger dog, Lucy-Lou, suffered so much anxiety from the journey that her aggressive tendencies got the better of her.  She needs some tough, loving training (which she is getting) and to be re-homed to a single dog household.  Lucy has been a huge management challenge from the very beginning of our relationship (3 years) but, and maybe because of, I have big, big love for this girl.  Another loss. Again, love when you can.

Once I get through this grieving, I’ll turn my attention to what I am going to do with all that I’ve learned on this journey.  A book?  Perhaps, but that feels too dead.  Something alive needs to come from this amazing and magical Odyssey. 

Thanks to all of you for coming with me: through this blog;  those of you who gave me shelter and comfort along the way; and, those of you who inspire me to continue to ask the important questions about the connections (or lack of) between people and their governments.

Love when you can.