Sixty five miles from Athens, I had a choice. I could spend the day racing to reach the city before nightfall, or I could take my time over every hill. I could stop and lay down in the grass. I could meander through the woods and ponder. It was an easy choice. So every few miles, I got off my bike and ran my hand across a wheat field. Transcendentalism. I remember being in junior high and obsessed with that idea. There was a two paragraph snippet about that philosophy in our social studies books. Instead of watching Mr. Lipton creepily hit on female classmates, I opted to read that excerpt over and over again wondering if I would one day attain such a wondrous state of mind. I did today. People tell me that they expect me to be all muscular and defined. A trip like this ideally would put me in that physical state. It really hasn’t. However, my brain has an oily, glistening 6-pack and it’s thanks to people like Emerson and Thoreau. In fact I rode past a street named Walden Pond so that tells me central Georgia is an ideal local for reaching a transcendental mindset.
So I rode on. The shackles of anxiety and woe were longing to reattach themselves to my ankles, but this rolling landscape denied any attempt. Free and easy. Concepts such as time, currency, and status are simply that. Concepts. They hold no reality or power out here. Each pedal further into the foliage canopy renders them obsolete. My mind even blocks the idea to compare this to any other place or feeling. I just feel. It’s such a difficult mindset to describe, it just is. And I am. Songs about walruses make more sense out here. I wonder if John Lennon has ever traveled this road.
Lexington pierced the horizon. There I ate and talked to a local shop owner. If there weren’t Toyotas zooming down the street, I’d have sworn I traveled back to 1890. He recommended I stop in Meson Park and relax. So I did. Not long after that I was approached be a woman walking her dog. The last person I encountered walking their dog called the police on me. But Donna was not that person. Rather Donna began questioning me with such pleasant and curious inquisition that I knew I was going to be safe. Her maternal company was a warm retreat for my tired bones. Her husband Ron soon walked over as they lived across the street. After about five minutes of conversation I was invited over for a shower and a place to spend the night. Much like the 19/98 Grill, I felt physically compelled to stop in Lexington. I don’t know what force is driving that. I’m not going to call it God. You can though. I don’t really have a name for it. Sometimes there is no term for occurrences like this one.
Donna and Ronnie sat me down with a beer and we talked. We talked all night about death, destruction, life, and reconstruction. She told me about her adventurous father and all his endeavors through Europe. I was thrilled to swap stories of pain and beauty with the Boggs. Amy and I talked about a willingness to communicate in Austin. Tonight that willingness was apparent. There was no hesitation to open up and express ourselves. There was no hesitation because we knew we were all safe and free of judgment. Instantaneous openness. It seems so unattainable with people I’ve known for years but so organic with people I’ve known for 20 minutes. I don’t question why that is. Rather I figure out methods to be more open and receptive to others, be it a stranger or an old friend. The willingness is there. It just needs to be communicated. I am so humbled by this trip. By these people. By this life.
To the gypsy that remains faces freedom with a little fear
I have no fear, I have only love
And if I was a child
And the child was enough
Enough for me to love
Enough to love
Total Ascent 1738