Seated in the lounge car of my train. I am exhausted. I smell. My laptop is open to Google Maps with directions from the Jacksonville Amtrak station to a coffee roasters* I want to visit in the same neighborhood where I hope to stay. There is a bottle of water in front of me, my phone and a copy of Tropic of Cancer as well. The car smells of something baked, like a chocolate chip cookie or a pretzel log. An older, white-haired couple (the lady’s dyed blonde) play cards at a table. She looks bored. Resigned. Other people at other tables converse sincerely, earnestly. None of them were acquainted before sitting together. Fascinating how they’ve come from divergent places yet have been brought together at their respective tables in this car, opposite each other, like, through the window the leafless, spectral trees against a crepuscular sky reflected in glassy swamp water. This is a scene I’ve never seen before, yet I see it all the time and I will never see it again.
Yesterday was, as a friend put it, rather hellish, yet wonderful just the same. That feeling of freedom one gets when traveling by bicycle. It’s undeniable, even when the wind is gusting and fingers and toes are benumbed. I wonder if perhaps it didn’t bother me so much because it was a short day and I knew I’d be in a warm hostel and eating delicious food later that evening. Now I’m led to think about my bike in the luggage car. It doesn’t have a destination tag on it. Will it be there at my stop? Things that aren’t explained…. (it was probably noted in the email I only glanced at that I should get a tag at check-in (I didn’t check in)).
Sitting in this train car writing is also the feeling of freedom. Different though. Less physically exertive. Largely mental. It is the freedom to go into myself, to go into my perception, my truth. To observe and to interpret those observations (observations of the moment, and observations of my memories—observations of observations…) One of the older gentleman has just closed a connect-the-dots book. At first I thought he was drawing with a BIC ballpoint, and I thought “Well, that’s rather skillful!” But now I know he’s just a simpleton. No wonder. He doesn’t look like any artist I’ve ever met. Maybe an accountant or engineer, though wouldn’t engineering be the job of placing the dots so that others might connect them? Maybe a desk clerk of some sort, papers spread over his work space, bills of receiving that he need go over and stamp. Something that one could just as easily have a machine do, and likely will in a few years time, but not just yet. What is the satisfaction of connecting dots anyway? I mean for an adult, not a small child which I think I understand. To bring into relief a picture that someone else has created. I am now reminded of those magic eye pictures which were so popular in the ’90s. Those ones in which a three dimensional image seemed to jump straight out of if one had the perseverance or the vision. A connect-the-dots picture seems very much like that, just without the weird sort of mystery and vague psychedelic experience behind it. Ah well, simple pleasures I suppose.
Back to observing observations. How accurate are they, these memories of mine? How does one even measure accuracy in this case? Accurate in regard to what? To what really happened? But what REALLY happened? These observations, and further, my INTERPRETATIONS of them are peculiar to only me. In truth there can be no measure of accuracy because this is a subjective thing and there is nothing to measure against! This isn’t a court case attempting to ascertain certain facts. There, one lives within the rigid confines of a square—code and law. Here one swims in the ocean of one’s truth with the FREEDOM to move in any direction one wishes, even down beneath the surface (just be prepared to hold your breath).
So travel, no matter how I go abut it is freedom because at the very least it involves diving into myself and drawing what is out into the open in pen on paper. Travel by bicycle adds an additional dimension, that’s all. A wondrous one, but one which is by no means always easy. But too, like writing, one is compelled to drill down into hisself, to, sometimes, dig into ones’ very guts and splay oneself open on the dissecting table. There is no other way lest one go about blindfolded. And who but magicians, tricksters and zen masters *read Heregel’s Zen in the Art of Archery) goes about intentionally blindfolding himself?
Shit, I haven’t written anything but a single line of the previous day yet….
*Bold Bean – it is excellent