THE ENCLOSING OF THE FIRE
Day 38 Quemado to Pie Town
today: 22 miles cumulative: 748
Jeanne is letting me leave Cosmo and the blue comet with her so that Cosmo can have another day off, she will bring them to meet me in Pie Town tonight after sunset. But first thing is first. Breakfast. Reading the bulletin board while I wait for my food, fire wood for sale, will deliver, good hay for sale 5.50 a bale, western dance class and cake walk at the Fence Lake Community building, Dart League starting in Pie Town. Coffee cups of locals lined up above the coffee maker, pretty blonde waitress smokes in the corner where the high schoolers hang out, ceiling fan spins, bare light bulb, blue carpet, deer and elk trophies on the wall over the salad bar. The waitress does not want to be here, she is somewhere else in her mind, she is smoking and thinking about a boy.
Getting ready at the thrift shop a woman named Ariel comes in to ask me some questions. She takes off on many tangents and gets very excited and shouts out something about money and commercialism and hoping the water here will always stay bad to keep people away because she likes it the way it is here, and she doesnt like to go much further than 10 miles out of town in either direction, so she stays between mile markers 28 and 48. Not like she will explode or anything if she goes out of that space, not like some kind of impenetrable bubble, its just an atmosphere thing she tells me, like shes removed from America. She has a sixth sense for energy and this place is it she assures me. Cosmo will lay by the fire all day on her day off and I will go out into the wind that just tore a flag off the front of the building and blew a dust storm down the street.
I have said that there are days that are just work, just twenty five miles of one foot after the next (Mike, Savannah, Mike, Savannah, Mike, Savannah...). Today is work, punch the time clock. There are a few people out there who think I should stop this foolishness and get an honest job, Im not naming names but his name is Dave and he works in and elementary school in my home town, and that uncle who thinks Im a bum, and his name is Tom, well, today I worked from 9 to 5. Walking into the wind up hill with blisters all over my feet.
50 mile per hour winds from the North west, blowing across me and shifting to blow against me. It is a sunny day, like the end of summer, but I am freezing because of this wind, and I dont have my dog to talk to. Cars keep stopping to offer me rides. "What do you mean youre walking to the Atlantic ocean?" "I mean Im walking to the Atlantic Ocean." "Damn fools going to blow away." Stiff hands from the cold.
One chance for a break from the wind, a town called Omega, the end, and it does look like the end, a trailer and 2 old buildings and a lot of garbage and 5 barking dogs on chains. No rest here. I muster up the energy to dance for a few minutes as I walk because I remember the test is to dance when you feel like giving up, and it raises my spirits for a few minutes, but besides that the day is too long. At the top of the hill is the Continental Divide, the highest point of this journey, 7,800 feet, which is not so high, and it means nothing because I still dont believe the hills are over. Jeanne drives by with the comet in her truck and Cosmo in the passenger seat and pulls into the first Restaurant on the right. Logan berry pie and a huge Italian meal in this small cafe and talking to a man about Central Asian politics and conspiracy theories. Because I am doing this ridiculous physical feat I am usually allowed to stay after closing and today I get to hear the locals turn up the stereo and sing Amore. The day has not filled me up though and I want to be in someones home to talk and hear some stories but there are no offers so I will be in the park tonight.
But once I am there I am satisfied because there is a fire ring and I build a fire right away. A woman I met in the restaurant, Nita, has a theory on fire and I think she is right on. "The enclosing of the fire was the downfall of civilization," she said. Not in anyway that hindered the outward appearance of superficial "progress" but in a way that made us lose our civility, death to progress in the mind. Fire was the focal point of our musings, it allowed us to have our own thoughts, it offered no answers yet one could find answers by staring into it. "Everything now is giving you something, the fire let you have your own thoughts." The television has replaced the flame as our muse, the television provides all the answers, but no progress, it certainly does not let you think for your self. Thats the point of turning it off, you dont have to think. Thinking hurts. But here in this park I have returned to the muse and it fills me up by letting me fill myself. And I watch the coals until they are white from the heat and cracking apart and remember what the muse has helped me to find, and my muse has no commercials that sell Chevy Suburbans and Double Cheeseburgers and the newest Pentium 1,000 gigahertz hard drive. The muse of this fire takes me into the place that you can see in your dreams sometimes, the place you wake up in and know you are still dreaming but youre not because the movie just wrapped around your head and its not a movie anymore, you are lucid and then you understand. But its hard to stay lucid, because you have to keep getting fire wood, how do you stay lucid when you have to deal with the practicalities of life?
I keep putting wood on the fire until very late in the night until I realize that at some point it will go out and I will have to find my own fire. So I understand and I hope to be lucid tonight in my dreams, to light a forest fire in my mind.