January 7, 2007

Total freedom

Today has been one of those days. Got my butt out of bed and moving at a decent time for a change. Weather forecast for partly sunny skies but a chance of rain later. So, I headed out to Shepherdstown to my favorite tea shop, Shaharazade's. I had a feeling as I got onto Route 340 at Frederick that things were gonna be good. Since it was still fairly early (8:30-9:00 am-ish), most everyone else was either still at home or at church, which left the roads nice and clear. I flew through the rolling piedmont hills of Maryland, Virginia, and then West Virginia on the way to Shep'town, with a new Chris Cornell mix cd playing at full volume and a mouthful of bubblegum. Pulled up in front of Sharazade's and went in to find my favorite table empty and waiting for me. Ordered the excellent fritatta and a pot of Keemun Imperial and slouched down to read some Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

After breakfast, I couldn't resist a stroll through Shep'town and headed through the historic district up to a little park that sits on a cliff next to the Potomac River. The highlight of the park, aside from the view, is a surprisingly impressive monument to James Rumsey, the inventor of the steamship. So there I ended up, sitting below the Rumsey Monument, overlooking a sweeping curve of the Potomac and feeling completely, totally at peace. I keep thinking about how the only times I ever feel this way are when I'm alone. It was that realization that led me to cut ties with my last group of friends a year or so ago. Sitting in a place like this, feeling this way and thinking deeply, a part of me wishes I had someone with whom to share it, savor it, and discuss it. The rest of me, though, knows from past experience that it rarely ever works out the way I imagine it. It's only when I'm alone that I can relax enough to drop the self-consciousness and really be myself. When I'm around other people, no matter how close the friendship, the persona switches on and I find myself re-playing things later and wondering how much was me and how much the act my persona puts on to be accepted. Also, there's the reality of other people. In any given scenario, no matter how well you know a person, you can't script what they're going to say or how they're going to act. You run the risk of them saying or doing something that can totally spoil the mood. I want to share the things and places that are special to me, but I don't want them to be demeaned if the person I'm sharing them with doesn't appreciate them in the way I do. I've found it better to just have these great moments on my own and get the most out of them. Kind of bittersweet that way, but so far the sweet outweighs the bitter.

Walking back from the park, I remembered a young girl who stood in line in front of me at an A Perfect Circle concert a few years ago. Waiting to get in for the show, I listened to her talking to her friend, going on and on about how she perceived of herself as being weird and alone and how she despaired of finding someone who would accept her and relate to her. She interspersed this personal stuff with various comments about how she thought Maynard James Keenan is God. I came so close to laughing out loud. Not at her. Well, not entirely at her. I had two thoughts that night, based on her ramblings:

1) The lyrics he writes indicate to me that MJK is way too aware of his own humanity to perceive of himself as any kind of a god.

- and -

2) That I would have loved the opportunity to have this little girl read some of the journals I wrote back when I was her age. Some of what she was spouting was almost verbatim what I wrote way back then. She wasn't so different and alone as she thought, she just wasn't well-read enough or experienced enough to know any better. And neither was I at that age. Hell, I'm still writing that kind of stuff.

Only a few things get to me like a beautiful ribbon of pavement rolling out in front of me, up and over hills and curling around curves... At one point on the drive back from Shep'town, I found myself singing along at the top of my lungs to Audioslave's "Wide Awake" with the biggest fool-ass grin on my face. Now, "Wide Awake" is not a happy song. Cornell wrote it in response to Dubya Bush and the Hurricane Katrina situation. But at that moment, the words weren't what was moving me. I was freaking high on fast speed and a good road, sunshine, and the fact that I was consistently able to stay on-key with Chris Cornell. While I've often considered experimenting with drugs, at moments like that I really wonder if any drug could top the euphoria I felt.

Unfortunately, being under the influence of that euphoria prompted me to stop at the bicycle shop on the way home and shell out $100 on new gear for my pony. Ah well, it's all good. The pony induces its own high.

1 comment:

birds fly said...

This was a beautiful post and nicely captured the spirit of many moments I've had on my own. For the most part I prefer to hike and bike alone, and have only rarely found regular companions for these activities who I've felt were on similar wavelengths.