They’re on a low-lit off the beaten track.
Loud enough music drowns out a dishonest silence. The early evening stars pop and whizz over their heads without a sound.
Her singing deters up close conversation, but she only does it almost under her breath.
Audible enough to prevent interruption.
Quietly enough to avoid judgement
Her window is rolled down and the wind whips her hair around her face, making it even harder to see. She leaves it wide open despite or because of this.
His window is closed up tight
against the darkness of the night.
The dim road is not quite tarred. Still too barely used for it to be intentionally made into any kind of straight and narrow to get anywhere productively.
they curve and wind
through young, rolling hills
of no noticeable distinction
to relate to any point or position.
The further they get from the tacitly agreed on wrong turn, the more alive with possibility she becomes.
He’s becoming ever more edgy and nervous.
It’s been almost an hour now with nothing in sight, other than the same unending peaks and troughs.
Nothing more visible than countless stars expanding as the dark descends fully, making the horizon even more impossible to reach.
Only a clear as day fact in the outta city light that this isn’t the road they meant to choose.
She never did care as much as he
about the final destination
and this was a large part of the situation.
It makes it easier to get lost, you see
But sometimes plans don’t work out despite the best of intentions.
And more often than not because of the worst of them.
She always believes they’ll get there eventually.
She thinks this again, silently, as he thinks out loud of going back to find the Right Way. Not even any sign of tar now. Just a gravel road.
A rough road.
Spontaneously is her favourite way to travel. It’s prone to new experiences and randomly like-magic moments that make it all worthwhile.
But it’s also prone to mistakes and losing good time.
They’ve found this single lane of almost forgotten, barely uncovered not-even-on-the-map by accident.
But she’s never believed in accidents.
Or destiny either.
A road abandoned.
Private enough for some kind of break, without the threat of consequence, in the almost midnight now.
She looks up as she squats under the milky way and empties her bladder, gazing unblinking at the haze of infinity above her.
Feeling ever more wildness and relief. Carefree wonder.
They get back into the car.
A phone is procured and messages are sent to find correct co-ordinates for a less alternative route.
His fear abates with the decisive action.
Hers even more with the decisive abandoning of decision and responsibility.
She doesn’t even ask. Just waits for his direction.
They continue on their way with the music turned off, moving into comfortable silence.
She refuses to give up the wheel when he offers to take it, even though the three hour trip has unexpectedly been extended to five going on six.
Dirty windscreen, dusty path.
It’s hard to keep eyes on where the road even is, in the smeared darkness.
But she isn’t at all tired.
As the constraints of signs and lanes dissolve into easy onward momentum, she’s waking up again.
as they approach a moonlit rise in the road.
The force of the upward climb pushes her back into her seat.
She leans into the pressure instead.
As if she believes her body weight will help propel the car over the top with more ease.
There’s no seeing what’s over the other side of the rise and the uncertainty mounts with their ascent.
But she doesn’t slow down.
She tightens her grip on the wheel, hesitates for a moment brief enough to not be able to stop anyway, as they reach the crescent…
At the same time
he instinctively reaches both hands out in front of him to brace himself against the dashboard.
They shoot over the summit, sliding gracefully downwards and smooth flat out the other side.
A moment of stillness inside the moving car.
The shadowed purple landscape outside their vacuum continues to rush past without a sound.
He glances sideways at her then looks out the passenger window without saying a word.
A moment of discomfort ignored and discarded.
A barely conscious agreement
of the exchange of connection
for a permanent distance
and self imposed isolation.
This is what makes the moment uncomfortable.
It’s conscious but the reasoning is not.
Instead the experience hangs in the air, echoing the unspeakable for a another long minute.
Or is it two?
The value of time isn’t fixed or permanent the way we believe it is.
Or even agreed on.
They lived their part life like that.
Him prepared for worse case scenario. Her challenging worse case scenario to fuckin’ bring it.
You might think it would balance a relationship out.
You can try do this with words, but words are rarely honest enough to reveal any kind of mutual truth.
Maybe the truth is in the silences alone.
The truth is, their differences were always the same thing just played out in too different ways.
The truth is, nobody is ever right and worse case scenario can always be far worse than expected.
The irony of man’s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation, but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive. – Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death
We build character and culture in order to shield ourselves from the devastating awareness of our underlying helplessness and the terror of our inevitable death. – Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death
There will be no lasting peace either in the heart of individuals or in social customs until death is outlawed. – Albert Camus
“I am often asked whether there is life after death. Certainly, there is. There is also death after life, and life before death, and death after life. It goes on forever. There’s no stopping it. You will live forever and die forever. In fact, you already have.”
“As for heaven and hell, they are right here on Earth, and it is up to each of you in which one you choose to reside. To put it simply, heaven is living in your hopes and hell is living in your fears.
“One problem with the notion of Heaven and Hell,” Robbins continued, “is that although they are exact opposites, an astonishing number of people seem to be confused about which is which. For example, all over the United States on this very evening, commencement speakers are standing before audiences not greatly unlike yourselves describing hell as if they were talking about heaven.
“Their speakers are saying things such as, ‘Graduating seniors, you have reached the golden age of maturity; it is time now to go out into the world and take up the challenge of life, time to face your hallowed responsibility.’
“And if that isn’t one hell of a note, it’s certainly one note of hell.
“When I hear the word maturity spoken with such solemn awe, I don’t know whether to laugh or get sick. There circulates a common myth that once one becomes an adult, one suddenly and magically gets it all together. And, if I may use the vernacular, discovers where it’s at. Ha ha. The sad funny truth is adults are nothing but tall children who have forgotten how to play.
“When people tell you to grow up, they mean approximately the same thing they mean when they tell you to shut up. By shut up they mean stop talking. By grow up, they mean stop growing.
“Because as long as you keep growing, you keep changing, and the person who is changing is unpredictable, impossible to pigeonhole and difficult to control. The growing person is not an easy target for those guys in slick suits who want you to turn over your soul to Christ, your heart to America, your butt to Seattle First National Bank and your armpits to the new extra crispy Right Guard.
“No, the growing person is not an ideal consumer, which means, in more realistic terms, he or she is not an easy slave. Worse yet, if he or she continues to grow, grows far enough and long enough, he or she may get too close to the universal mysteries, the nature of which the Navy and the Dutch Reformed Church do not encourage us to ponder. The growing person is an uncomfortable reminder of the greater human potential that each of us might realize if we had the guts.
“So, society wants you to grow up to reach a safe, predictable plateau and root there. To muzzle your throb. To lower the volume on the singing in your blood. Capers all cut, sky finally larked, surprises known: SETTLE DOWN — settle like the sand in the bottom of an hourglass, like a coffin six months in the ground. Act your age, which means act their age, and that has, from the moment they stopped growing, always been old.”
“Growing up is a trap.
“As for responsibility, I am forced to ask, responsibility to what? To our fellow man? Two weeks ago, the newspapers reported that a federal court had ruled that when a person’s brain stops functioning, that person is legally dead, even though his or her heart may continue to beat. That means that 80% of the population of the Earth is legally dead. Must we be responsible to corpses?
“No, you have no responsibility except to be yourself to the fullest limit of yourself. And to find out who you are. Or perhaps I should say to remember who you are. Because deep down in the secret velvet of your heart, far beyond your name and address, each of you knows who you really are. And that being who is true cannot help but behave graciously to all other beings – because it is all other beings.
“Ah, but we must be responsible, and if we are, then we are rewarded with the white man’s legal equivalent of looting: a steady job, a secure income, easy credit, free access to all the local emporiums and a home of your own to pile the merchandise in. And so what if there is no magic in your life, no wonder, no amazement, no playfulness, no peace of mind, no sense of unity with the universe, no giggling joy, no burning passion, no deep understanding, no overwhelming love? At least your ego has the satisfaction of knowing you are a responsible citizen.
“The only advice I have for you tonight is not to actively resist or fight the system, because active protest and resistance merely entangles you in the system. Instead, ignore it, walk away from it. Turn your backs on it, laugh at it.
Don’t be outraged, be outrageous! Never be stupid enough to respect authority unless that authority proves itself respectable.
“So be your own authority, lead yourselves. Learn the ways and means of the ancient yogi masters, pied pipers, cloud walkers and medicine men. Get in harmony with nature. Listen to the loony rhythms of your blood. Look for beauty and poetry in everything in life. Let there be no moon that does not know you, no spring that does not lick you with its tongues. Refuse to play it safe, for it is from the wavering edge of risk that the sweetest honey of freedom drips and drips. Live dangerously, live lovingly. Believe in magic. Nourish your imagination. Use your head, even if it means going out of your mind. Learn, like the lemon and the tomato learned, the laws of the sun. Become aware, like the jungle became aware, of your own perfume. Remember that life is much too serious to take seriously – so never forget how to play.
“Let me wrap this up with a few short questions I am often asked.
1. Will we be eaten by bugs and worms? We ought to be. We have eaten and we ought to be eaten. This is Justice and there is no stopping it. If you have your body burned, starving the earth to glorify a memory, you are asking for trouble. I have no idea what form the trouble might take, but I do know that if you are too good to be eaten by bugs and worms, you are asking for trouble.
2. Does your soul fly out of your body at the moment you die? No. This is a foolish superstition. Your soul is constantly flying out of your body in just the same way that energy is constantly flying out of the sun. At the moment your body dies, the soul stops flying out.
3. Is Jesus coming back? Yes, all the time. And so are you. All souls echo forever throughout the universe.
I hope you have a wonderful trip.”
Tom Robbins, The Lost Commencement Address original source here
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