Thursday, February 27, 2014

Searching for El Dorado - Part VII

When I started writing about my travels I thought that three posts might be the right number.  Most stories are in three acts.  Then when I realized that I needed more posts I thought maybe five would be good.  Again, there are many stories told in five acts.  Well, now I'm on my seventh post (don't worry - it will be my last).  I decided to explore the number seven to see if there was any significance.  I won't bore you with the details - but seven is possibly the most interesting number - both mathematically and spiritually.  Not that I necessarily believe in numerology - but I thought it would be interesting to read what they think about the number seven

"The number 7 is the seeker, the thinker, the searcher of Truth (notice the capital "T"). The 7 doesn't take anything at face value -- it is always trying to understand the underlying, hidden truths. The 7 knows that nothing is exactly as it seems and that reality is often hidden behind illusions."

I'm not sure there is a better way to describe what my motivation was for my trip - or really what my perspective is on life in general.  With that in mind - here is my last post on my trip.

Nebraska gets a bad rap.  It's that boring state people drive through before they get to the splendor of the west.  It is like purgatory - a way station to heaven.  I've lived in a lot of places with bad raps.  I grew up near Detroit - I've lived in Baltimore.  I've found that these places usually have a bad reputation because they represent something that the average white American finds threatening.  Usually having to do with the fact there are a lot of people of color within a particular zip code.

With Nebraska the threat is the vastness of the prairie.  I was trying to find a quote from William Least Heat-Moon about how the vastness of the prairie is threatening - but I can't find it.  But looking for that quote reminded me what a great traveler and writer he is - so, I'm going to copy a quote of his I like and then find a picture on my computer (not even necessarily from my trip) that I think embodies that quote.  It will be an interesting way to wrap things up - I think.

“What you've done becomes the judge of what you're going to do - especially in other people's minds. When you're traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don't have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.”

“Instead of insight, maybe all a man gets is strength to wander for a while. Maybe the only gift is a chance to inquire, to know nothing for certain. An inheritance of wonder and nothing more.”

“A man who couldn't make things go right could at least go. He could quit trying to get out of the way of life. Chuck routine. Live the real jeopardy of circumstance. It was a question of dignity.”

“With a nearly desperate sense of isolation and a growing suspicion that I lived in an alien land, I took to the road in search of places where change did not mean ruin and where time and men and deeds connected.”

“The biggest hindrance to learning is fear of showing one's self a fool.”

“There are two kinds of adventurers: those who go truly hoping to find adventure and those who go secretly hoping they won't.”  

“All of those things - rock and men and river - resisted change, resisted the coming as they did the going. Hood warmed and rose slowly, breaking open the plain, and cooled slowly over the plain it buried. The nature of things is resistance to change, while the nature of process is resistance to stasis, yet things and process are one, and the line from inorganic to organic and back is uninterrupted and unbroken.”

"I thought how far I was from where and when this journey began, how I was so distant from that fellow passing for me twenty months ago, the one so eager to learn the secrets of river passage. Could he - the me of that moment - and I sit down together, he would want to know what I knew and absorb what I had experienced, and he would regard me enviously, just as I do those men who have returned from the moon. But there would be forever a difference between him and me: I went and he did not. He set the voyage in motion, but he could not take it. Just as I, who lay on the Dakota hill, could not know whether Nikawa would reach the Pacific, he could never see the outcome of his preparations, unless somewhere, on some far other side, time permits us to meet our past selves, all those we have been. Our physical components change every seven years, so our brains are continuously passing along memories to a stranger; who we have been is only a ghostly fellow traveler. As for me, what might I learn from him who laid out the voyage or from all those others I once was." . . .
"What a report I might deliver to them about where they have sent me! And how they could remind me of first kisses and death, the Haitian mountains at sunset and the Ozark hills at night. They could redraw the faded lines of the long map of my journey here, point out clearly where it was I took a road other than the one they intended, and they could tell me whether they liked that divagation or not, whether they found it a good one or rankly stupid. Were human memory total and perfect, perhaps I'd be only one person from start to finish, but forgetfulness cuts me off from who I've been so that hourly I am reborn. To twist Santyana's words, I who cannot fully remember my past am condemned to proceed without it."



The End

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