Monday, September 15, 2008


The city is left behind. I am traveling at something approaching twice my normal high speed, and yet through the elongating effect of distance it seems as if I have slowed down. Buildings give way to corn and soybean fields, cement gray and slatted brown to a thousand vibrant gradations of green. The scents of gas and oil and the battling odors of a million restaurants give over to the more earthy aromas of manure and rain and hay. Soon forests grow up where there were crops and the ground begins to rise. A rhythm develops. Not so much a rhythm of duration as of direction. Up and down, up and down - a sensation you don't often get in the city. It almost feels as if the earth itself is breathing, as if out here it can breathe. And eventually, finally, I begin to feel as if I can breathe again too. As if that movement of the earth has kickstarted some long dormant and forgotten physical faculty. Not just breath but deep, cleansing breath.

Over time, as I cycle between hilly forest and flat plain, between town and city and open land, I begin to get a sense of the similarities that connect different parts of the nation. Despite differences in accent and culture and sometimes values, there is a sense in which we all belong to the same place, the same aggregate idea. Even separated by hundreds or thousands of miles, you can still see the same restaurants, some of the same companies, the same cars. Two states over from my own I begin passing signs for cities with the same names as ones back home, and I get the eerie sense that after driving for several hours I've never really left.

Just leaving behind the ordinary for a little bit gives me a greater appreciation for the routine that has so recently felt constricting, and whole new opportunities seem to expand before me. Sometimes it is a simple matter of perspective. To realize that there are other and larger horizons beyond the petty problems of my everyday life. There is beauty to be explored and taken in, made a part of who I am. The mundane and everyday will wait, they will return, but for just a moment the possibilities are endless, and the eternal is imminent, and I am awed into silence.