Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We Are to Be Dead Birds, But Not Today

Look both ways before crossing the street Space Travelers.  This evening, while driving home, a squirrel darted into the road.  The car about 20 ft in front of me in the lane to my left prevented the squirrel from making it all the way across.  I made for a hasty retreat, but  Johnny Freedom Karr was headed right for it.  I could not stop, nor did I have the maneuvering room to turn.  I saw the squirrel flatten down just before its small frame disappeared behind the horizon of JFK's hood.  It was hard to tell if the squirrel would be clear of my wheels.  After passing over, I looked in my rear view mirror.  I saw nothing.  It vanished.  I was relieved.  Twice before, I've struck an animal...

...Both were birds.  

One instance stands out in my mind.  I was on my way into work one evening, and two birds swooped down.  One went too low and I struck it.  I heard the soft sound.  I'd swear I could feel it in my hands through the steering wheel.  I know that's very unlikely, but when it happened, I felt like it  struck my heart.  I was pierced.  

As I drove, I looked back in the mirror.  I saw it laying in the road.  One wing up in the air.  It was beating its raised wing with a terribly frantic rhythm.  That, or it was already dead, and it was the wind that simply moved the bird's lifeless wing.  As I slowed to the stoplight, I continued to look back in the mirror.  The second bird landed next to dead or dying bird.  It hopped around with its head down looking at the wounded bird.  I'm not one to anthropomorphize animal behavior*, but I couldn't help but try and put myself in the bird's head.  Did it know what had happened to the other bird?  Did it feel sad?  Did it hate me for killing the other bird?  I pondered things like if they were mates, and what our chance cosmic encounter could mean.  Did they have a nest?  Eggs?  How long would the bird stay there by the dead bird before it flew off?  Would it return to that spot later, or would it leave and never think of the spot or occasion again?

The light turned green.  I could not stay there.  I drove on, and as I left, I saw the bird still there bouncing around looking at the ground.  The scene faded from view, but not from mind. Thoughts of this bird would be in my head all day while I worked.  

This was life.  This was nature--It was not cruel, but indifferent.  In my life, I'll have to be the dead bird only once, but all have to be the surviving bird numerous times over.  I think the terror is that I realize I'm more prepared to die than to deal with death.  To mourn is agony.  It is not beautiful.  So while I'm not the bouncing bird, I'll still have to fly away; I'll still have to still go when the light turns green.  When death takes my friends and family, I'll have to keep moving.  I can't stay arrested on the side of the road trying to understand it, there may be no answer.  I can't just stay angry and blame something.  I can't simply regret this... regret that.  I'll be a dead bird one day, but until then, I can't use my life just staring at the earth.

*Space Traveler Fact:  Anthropomorphizing is reserved for electronics and vehicles.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chapter 33; Verse 1: The Autobahn Less Traveled

Guten Abend mine Space Travelers.  Ya!  We are having fun now! He he.

It's been a while since I've strapped myself into plane and ventured off.  I was investigating a trip to Europe for a while.  I needed to get out and meet people; have a cultural experience.  I needed to be put in a new context.  I find that when I travel, I see myself in the third person (sort of).  I think now is a good time for that.  I'm coming out of a huge period of change and some reflection on who I'm becoming would be good.

Hans Liberty Auto
The plan is to land in Berlin on August 31st, and fly out on September 13th.  I have a rental car reserved, and everything else (like lodging or figuring out how to order vegan food in other countries...) I'll improvise.  Not much of a plan, but I'm confident in my ability to make this work.  In many ways this trip has many similar elements to my 2007 road trip that started this blog.  I'm traveling alone, which in many ways seems like I'm missing out on the whole "sharing the experience."  I do like to have travel companions, but there is something incredibly satisfying about the independence and autonomy of single travel.  In 2007, I had not planned to hang a sharp turn and go off the planned route, but had I not, I would have missed Devil's Tower and (this detail stands out to me) the prairie dogs in the surrounding plain.  

So I have a general path sketched out, but nothing in concrete.  My goal is to hit Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Zurich, Frankfurt, and anything that catches my attention in transit between.

View Larger Map

Copyright 2007 ID Media Inc, All Right Reserved. Crafted by Nurudin Jauhari