Open wide and say wow

IMG_9994

Bug Light from Long Beach, Christmas morning, 2013.

I’M WALKING HOME. TAKING A YEAR TO WALK ACROSS THE COUNTRY. BRINGING YOU WITH ME OR MEETING YOU ALONG THE WAY… I am not feeling too well this morning. Though I woke at five, something telling me it was time, in time to run, ¬†instead I sat down on the couch and looked at my phone in the dark. Outside, the distant rumble of thunder, and closer, raindrops on the leaves. I tweeted a poem of sorts. Reflection of the past weeks slightly greater awareness. Creatures that I dismissed with a wave of my hand I watched instead. Another world glimpsed. Are we, as a species, glimpsed, as fascinating, as colorful: do we come in as many flavors, colors, camouflaged against the forest floor? ¬†My instinct is to rush out and embrace the world. Though a thousand times I have been brushed away. Though a thousand times I have tumbled over and over in the turbulent wake of dismissive hands there is always that small glowing coal, that instinct to embrace, that if nurtured in the smallest way becomes a fire, a passion, a hunger…

Not as far as Pluto, but…

Pluto1I’M WALKING HOME. TAKING A YEAR TO WALK ACROSS THE COUNTRY. BRINGING YOU WITH ME OR MEETING YOU ALONG THE WAY. I’m walking almost as far, in a way. A light year. Nine years ago I consciously tried to forge a closer relationship with my younger son Patrick, by sharing the adventure of New Horizons. He was just seven then, and I tried to make him understand, or at least contemplate, how long it would take, how far it would be. For a while I took note of the communications from NASA, shared news of the mileposts New Horizon attained: the inner planets, the outer planets, the dark desert-like expanse after Uranus. But after a year or two I stopped telling him when I received the emails. On the wall between the kitchen and hallway, where we marked off his personal ascent – five feet tall, six feet tall, six feet three the last time – I should have sketched the planets that he and I were, in a way, passing. In fifth grade he passed Mars. In his sophomore year he dodged the ice and stone and emotional hazards of the Kuiper Belt. But on the day that New Horizons was expected to make its closest approach as I left the house, and he popped his head out over Marys in the doorway as I left for work, I offered him a tantalizing mystery. “This is a special day for you and I,” I told him, then asked: “Do you know why.” I drove off then, and did not return until late that evening. I found him on the couch, in a position that I would need physical therapy to recover from, a wad of tissue protruding from one nostril (he still suffers from frequent nosebleeds), his thick hair tousled into waves and horns and humps of brown, the TV on but his eyes fixed on the screen of his phone. He looked up sheepishly, smiling though, so I put it to him. “Did you figure it out?” I asked. “Do you know why this day is special for the two of us?” “Pluto?” he asked, without confidence. Yes. It was a failed experiment but, at least we tried.

If I start now, and I prepare for three years…

I’M WALKING HOME. TAKING A YEAR TO WALK ACROSS THE COUNTRY. BRINGING YOU WITH ME OR MEETING YOU ALONG THE WAY. My friend Sharl has advised me to start putting in the time it takes to prepare, to find sponsors, develop a specific route: there are a thousand things to do to prepare for this adventure. She thinks I need to get moving. But when I’m asked by those who have heard, but have only a vague idea of what I have in mind, as soon as I mention that the actual walk won’t begin for three years (2018-2019) they begin to nod their heads involuntarily, their eyes unable to remain focused. Unless its their adventure they have a hard time imagining it, believing in it. I understand. I’m guilty of that as well, that inability to imagine beyond a day or two: it’s something we have cultivated as a culture. But in doing so we are ruling out so much. Not all experience can be prepared for by a visit to an airline website and a month’s membership at the gym. I wonder if there is a special rule: If an adventure of a day requires three days preparation how long should I be preparing for a year-long adventure? So I guess I’m meeting Sharl halfway: working on the details (this site), ready to interject the ‘story’ whenever I see an opportunity, but not yet breathing faster, or worrying in any way about what lies ahead.