Day 46 Wednesday, August 24 Delta, UT to Border Inn, NV 90 miles
I am not sure exactly what to say about today. Have you ever had the feeling that you know something has happened to you, but you can’t quite put your finger on it? The feeling is there, but the words haven’t quite yet formed yet. That is how I am feeling about today. There is a reason they call this the “Loneliest Road in America”. I was struck by two things about that description. The first is that I thought it probably was just referring to the lack of services, homes and ranches along the way. I am sure that is part of it. The road was also very lightly traveled. I often went five or ten minutes without seeing another vehicle, semi, or RV pass me by. Vehicles are often separated by many, many miles.
The second thing that struck me is that distance is very deceptive out here. I haven’t had this experience anywhere else before. There were times when I could see the road stretch far out ahead of me thinking that the next bend is, oh, three or four miles out. It was often at least double that. At other times I would watch a vehicle travel down the road to see if the road was going up the hill or down the valley (anticipating what is next). A couple of times I would watch as a semi would melt into the road as I could see the outline of the road miles out, but the vehicles would shrink until there was nothing left to them.
I found this vast openness to be almost comforting and soothing. Yes, it is a little unnerving at the same time to be out where there is little support, no drinkable water, and heat that just wrings the moisture out of one’s body. I had prepared well, in fact, probably over-prepared with regard to water and hydration. This allowed me to ease into the experience and enjoy the emptiness, the broad sweeping landscapes, and the invitation to reflection.
This is where I am not sure exactly what to say about the day except that one word seems to be at the center of what is percolating up for me—acceptance. Something about where I am in the trip at this point is bringing me into a place of acceptance. I needed to do something that I knew would take me to my limits. If I had chosen something easy and enjoyable I would have still had this unsettled feeling that I needed to go out and push myself and really see what I am capable of. I am definitely getting that on this pilgrimage. I am strong. I know that. But, this pilgrimage is helping me to also acknowledge my limits. I have often felt limited by my circumstances rather than my abilities. This pilgrimage has been a reality check highlighting both my strengths and my limitations.
I am coming face to face with the fact that I can’t simply will something into existence by the sheer force of my determination or personality. I have often lived by the philosophy that you can be and do anything you want if you put your mind to it. In recent years I have been discovering that are some things in life, in fact, most things, that are bigger than me and beyond my ability to control them or shape them. Things like mountain passes and deserts. Things like losses, deaths, disappointments, recessions, and the general shape of the world.
I am sitting in a comfortable sadness tonight. It is a sadness for the way life sometimes turns out. Yet, it is not a sadness that I want to chase away or medicate. It’s a rich, deep sadness that seems to blossom out of a place of acceptance. Acceptance of the way life is.
I am not sure what it is about this landscape that gives permission to just let go. There are no trees at all anywhere. There is nothing to distract the eyes and ears. There were many moments today when I dismounted my bike and understood what a “deafening silence” is. With the road that stretches as far as the eyes can see and a landscape that is deceptively much more vast than your senses will accept, it really is you and God out here. There are no games and tricks that can help you dance around the reality of your life and life itself. There is no running away, no running to. There is only what is right before you at that moment.
Forget the Greyhound. I am just where I need to be.