Saturday, July 27, 2013

Travels to the Edge and to Joshua Tree, California

E. B. White, an essayist you've favored since you first discovered him in your teens, and had a lifetime of being able to understand and appreciate him, had a particular observation that has remained with you.

"Whoever sets pen to paper,"  White wrote, "writes of himself, whether knowingly or not."

The more you arrive at understanding of him, the more you appreciate and see the implications of this observation of his.  You frequently writer by setting pen to paper, later to transcribe it to computer, often even to these vagrant pages of your blog turf.

From time to time, reviewing your multifarious notebooks and these blog essays, you in fact learn things about yourself you'd not set out to learn, even though you've arrived at a state where you engage in writing in order to make sense of the events in your life, their meanings, their effects on you, and, of course, your dealings with others.

You say of course here because of your primary discovery that some of the things you set on paper have solipsistic tendencies, and secondary discoveries that portions of you are silly, even to you, while other parts represent you, showing off in general and in specific for you.  

This latter aspect is of a piece with you trying to impress yourself with such things as insight, erudition, and humor, all in mitigation of having found yourself lacking in these qualities to the point of being concerned about the lack.

Other aspects of your discovery journey have demonstrated how deliberate pursuit of such things as insight, erudition, and humor can lead to inanity and, worse yet, boredom.

The hero's journey begins in earnest when one sets forth with an honest curiosity in mind, fueled by a decent sixteen-ounce latte and the likes of a peanutbutter and jam sandwich, the latter two often being forgotten in the whirlwind attraction of the former, the honest curiosity, which envelops and informs with no regard for process, which is already quite able to cope with the incoming information on its own.

The hero's journey begins in solipsism when tries to learn things for effect as opposed to learning them for use.  In a real sense, you're traveling to discover tools and other useful parts of yourself with which to deal with the journey ahead, the books to be read and written, the losses to be experienced and weathered, the choices to come, such as which music to listen to now, which things to write now, which animals to adopt into this time of your life, which memories to dust off and polish, aware that they were a part of the toolkit that got you to this point.

At the moment, you are at an apparent edge, inside a funky motel in a small town called Joshua Tree, just above such splendid centers of society as Yucca Valley and Twenty-Nine Palms, all of these in the California high desert in the general vicinity of Palm Springs.

You are here on a whim, away from the ordinary, the recognizable, the familiar.  Given your personal assessment that a person would have to be deranged somehow to live here, there are significant numbers of deranged persons to support banks, a Starbucks, numerous restaurants, an all-night laundry, and dramatic desert vistas about which Joshua trees are strewn with a whisical abandon.  You've already seen a few places here where you gave fantasy to living for a time, ratifying your own membership in the deranged and lunatic fringe.

Part of the tools you seek for success, by which you mean peanutbutter and jam sandwich engagement, come from whim, travels to the edge, and its pursuit until you are deemed too lunatic to be issued a driver's license.

Meanwhile, you set pen to paper, digital word to blog.  You read books with no set pattern relating to subject matter or timeline plateau.  At about eight this evening, the temperature in this high desert landscape was ninety-five, the prospects for adventure shimmering in the purples and magentas and rose colors of the dying evening light, and you out for a few moments in the gravelly patio, looking at the lights speeding down from distant stars.

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