So….I made it back to work from Many Gods West, thinking I had zero vacation days left before September 1st. What I found, instead, was that I had another 24 hours of vacation left. If I didn’t take it before the 1st….I’d lose it. So, with an upcoming eclipse nearby….off I went. I’ve been here, up in Kansas….watching the cloudy skies, the thunderstorm this morning….and wondering if I got up here to just watch the sky darken in the middle of the day. But its been an interesting trek up here….driving delays, construction, and another thunderstorm – yes, there was a thunderstorm blocking the way on the lower half of the Kansas turnpike…. What should have been a seven to eight hour trip turned into a twelve hour melee.
Probably more along the lines of an adventure, if you will. But it certainly got me to wondering….when was the last time that I had ever decided to do something like this? And I don’t mean anything like trips to England or Ireland, which were planned well in advance. Or even trips to San Jose or Olympia for a convention….again, those being planned. I mean completely unplanned – just a wild hair up my ass – kind of trips. And for that, I can say that those moments don’t come around nearly as often as I would like.
Most of my unplanned trips are day-long driving trips – such as the occasional trip to Amarillo, or even an occasional jaunt down to Austin to interview Chris Godwin. Or back when Dublin Dr. Pepper Bottling Works was doing their take on the Dr. Pepper formula before the folks who make Dr. Pepper remembered that they were a commercial corporation and crushed the poor folks in Dublin as a reminder to what can happen to the little guy. And each of those trips has a final destination, but its really not the destination that makes those trips so awesome for me (apologies to Chris, the folks at Dublin and the folks at Amarillo – among many others). No its not the destination, its the journey.
In one of my favorite TV shows, Firefly, Shepherd Book approaches the ships’ mechanic to book passage on the ship. And the conversation goes something like this:
Kaylee: How come you don’t care where you’re going?
Book: ‘Cause how you get there is the worthier part.
Yes, I have destination in mind nearly ever time I step out the door, but to be honest – what I see through the windscreen of the car on those long drives is the stuff that really gets me alive. Even on the shorter trips too. I drive a total of eleven miles to work, and most of that is down a farm road between several pastures. I see all kinds of wildlife from rabbits, foxes, crows (naturally) to barnyard critters such as cows, goats, the occasional donkey, dogs, and cats. There’s a lot of plant life to look at as well – trees, prairie grasses, weeds, and wild flowers. And that’s all in an eleven mile stretch of roads. When I drive to long distance locations, there is all of this and so much more to see. Texas provides wonderful views out in the prairie land and in the hill country to the south of me of incoming thunderstorms, and tear-causing sunrises and sunsets. And all of that just makes the moments come alive for me.
Plus, there’s always the chance locations of where to stop and enjoy the feeling of the land outside of the vehicle as well. I have stopped on the edge of a rainstorm, just to get out and smell the humidity in the air, and feel the dropping temperatures associated with such a phenomenon. And moments like that are just sheer magick!! And for me, all of that is part of the journey of getting from here to there.
It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to. —Bilbo Baggins
And that’s so much what this trip has become. Just getting in the car – driving towards an area where the eclipse would potentially be happening, when I had no plans whatsoever to be here. Why? Because I had an unexpected chance of it occurring. And so here I am. In an area where the eclipse will happen – with a chance that a thunderstorm may spoil the whole thing. And if that happens?? I’m not about to be upset. I’m here. And I am experiencing this here and now. Well, not exactly here and now yet….but when it takes place, I am going to be here.
Lately, I have been speaking about a lot of things associated with my Spirituality – my connection with my Gods – what my Paganism means to me. And while all of that is nice and fine, its not all of who I am. Its not all of what I am about. Its a big chunk of it. But its not all of it. In truth, I have been so narrowly focused on the Spirituality of my Life, as well as the changes at my mundane job; that I have forgotten about the thrilling feeling of cold rain splashing on my face, feeling the wind pulling through my clothes, and smelling the cleansing scent of rain in the air.
So, yes….sometimes, it brings me back to remembering who I am and what I am and where I am in this world by just going somewhere….and experiencing. What makes me a Pagan is my experiences. And sometimes, I completely forget about having those as well. Getting swept up by the tidal aspect of a journey just waiting outside the door is sometimes just the start…but really, just going on the journey is not enough. I do have to see and experience what’s out there while I am getting washed down the road….