Monday, July 12, 2010
Confronting the Valley of Reality
Over the past 2 weeks I traveled 7575 kilometres (4700 miles) by motorcycle through 6 American states (Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, South Dakota and Wyoming). Most days were unplanned until planning became necessary, with only 2 motel reservations having been made in advance (July 4 weekend), one of which we did not use. I averaged 475 kilometers per day (300 miles), experiencing a lot of country and excitement every day. It was nothing short of exhilarating and yet, with the exception of some troublesome work problems creeping in, the days of riding left plenty of room for uninterrupted "helmet time". The necessity of focusing on the road, and whatever peripheral vision permitted, has a way of brushing from my mind all thoughts of "significance". Thinking is reduced to itinerant translations of relatively insignificant current events: "I wonder what kind of bird that is?"; "How fast should I take this 40 mile an hour corner?"; or "Is not life great!". These were times of mountaintop experiences. Peak to peak, summit to summit, picture-perfect panorama views from snowy places 5000 feet closer to heaven.
café in the Oregon outback? What do I say about the dozen shades of green evident in a single glance as I speed by a stand of trees bordering the creek in a shadowy valley? How do I accurately explain the warm and comfortable camaraderie of my fellow adventurers?
Confronting the valley of reality often leaves little satisfaction. There is a longing to return to thin, cold air of the mountain meadow where a doe and her faun nuzzle the long grass yet remain ever vigilant. There is a sadness because I cannot bring the mountaintop into the valley. But I must return to the valley a different person, which can change the valley.
Fear not the valley, for it exists to make the mountain what it is.