And the next day, you have to write all over again.
Thoughts had while walking in the woods:
Never ask for directions of any sort from a female. The feminine brain sees things differently, navigating not in terms of direction but in terms of landmarks. A different kind of orientation. Don't expect clarity in affairs of the heart, because they need direction. They may rant and rave, but they are properly passive to one with a sense of direction, otherwise a bit confused, even as they seem to manage perfectly well. Yes, that would explain a lot... Yes, I listened passively, thinking they had a sense of direction too, when all they had was landmarks. So indeed it takes self-confidence, to provide them direction, to not confuse yourself with the thought that you need to respect their sense of direction in matters when your sense of where north lies. It is simply better to establish yourself as an unambiguous landmark.
The Mongol hordes, with a new blood type and an adaptable scavenger diet, with the aggressive conquest and rape of all women they encountered fostered a new kind of way of being in the world that humanity had not known, the rise of aggression. The earliest bands of humanity, less populous, whose survival was more tenuous, cooperated in the hunt, saw helping each other out as supremely important, were extraordinarily resourceful and gifted, inventing the human creature themselves. Then came a more agrarian type, adapted to a more of a legume and grain diet, whose existence depended less on following the animals, who stayed put more and made a good go of it in settlements. And then came the hordes off the steppes, and by this time all had to compete, giving rise to an immediate selfishness really quite foreign to a good portion of people. Rape spoke volumes about the new attitude.
I am too tired to sit on the log and meditate, and head bowed I walk slowly home with the phrase, " a crown of thorns" running through my head. I pass people on the trails.
One week back, one full week of work survived, and to be honest the last three nights have not spoke well of self control toward the wine. To celebrate the first night off, a Thursday I went out late, near last call for a glass of wine at Barcelona on 14th Street. And I've been keeping it to Pinot Noir and Beaujolais, low in alcohol, easy on the system. I come across high school kids out on U Street after a rave, dressed in ways I would not approve of if I were a parent as I should be. I have an all beef Ben's Chili Bowl chili dog and then go off on a bike ride up through Ledroit Park, up on the other side of MacMillan Reservoir, past Washington Medical Center and Children's Hospital, looking for The Soldier's Home and Abraham Lincoln's cottage. The horseback ride up to this high mound of a hill would have been good exercise, a break, a change of direction, though surely the landscape has been changed with highways and construction. And somewhere, someone got a shot off at him on a moonlight night, maybe not unlike this one, the bullet going through his hat. (I encounter narrow sidewalks, chain link fence, construction entrances, pavement with broken glass, after I climb up above the city's maintenance facilities and lots with all its dump trucks, sketchy places far away from home for a bike rider and I have no spare tube on me in this no-man's land I know little about.) I've been to this campus once before, coming at it from the West, via Kenyon Street, but as I taxi along the sidewalk perimeter I do not realize how far East I am going, and wisely look at the iPhone map to find where I am located.
I head back south, avoiding the freeway ramps and cross westward below the wide bank of unlit woods that must be part of the Soldier's Home, and as I head northward, now on the other side of it, the road rises and rises and finally there is a gate. I speak to the guard, and no, you can't see Lincoln's cottage from the street and visiting hours, of course, are during the daylight hours, obvious, but something that I seem to need to be told. Then, above that there is the cemetery, actually two of them, and again I have to go back downhill, this time westward, then north again as the street rises to find the gates, which, of course, are locked. Rock Creek Cemetery, and then across the street the proper gate of the National Military Cemetery. It really is cooler, in temperature, up here, and one can see how indeed its airs would offer relief from the city's swamp below. You cannot even see nor have sense of the city from here. All you see is a quiet field, and trees, and perhaps Lincoln could have felt like he were back in the Illinois countryside, as a youth, as a circuit riding lawyer. The moon, at half, is up here, the view of the sky unobstructed. It is perfectly quiet, and you find your expectations have suddenly changed.
No wonder they build colleges on top of hills where there is enough of a plain to find yourself in a new world, undistracted.
But what have I done, as far as following a direction in life? Have I, like Kerouac, fell into some deeply misguided adventure based on the directions of other people, in his case Neal Cassidy, in mine the general crawling bodied anthill of a restaurant. And maybe going back further, the momma's boy, looking for direction from female figures, who offer sound advice about many things, things psychological, things bearing on egotism, things about being true to values, but who don't have to cope with that fundamental need for a quest and work in male life, the doing of something based on an inner vision and making it operative in the world. So leaving you to say, "but I thought..." Well, you thought wrong, and now what the hell do you do so many years later clinging to some cottage craft, really no solid plan.
And that's where the wine comes in again. The submergence of the inner plan, the postponement, the loss of self-control in its grant of feeling less pain. Leaving a man to drift in the wind.
To respond to that though, Kerouac worked quite hard at a job, a dangerous one at that, as a brakeman on the railroads, the same job that injured Cassidy such that he got a settlement. Kerouac worked hard at his Buddhist stuff too, and achieved a real grasp about it, such that you have to be decently read yourself to get what he's writing about, in Desolation Angel, really all through his long tale of autobiography (though that never seems a suitable term for his Dulouz Legend.) The Void is not an easy term, something you have to really ponder. He wrote a good little biography of Buddha, Wake Up, as well. His writing was his quest, and really the only thing is that he should have put all the bad influences aside--a lot of which interested his creative eye--and quit drinking, if only for the sake of his health. For he really had a problem, though it wasn't always that way for the poor old sensitive shy man that he was, deeply caring about a lot of people and the fate of the race in general, a big heart that may well have needed a healthier outlet.
Such as I would like to find myself, having been foolish enough for long enough.
Satisfied with my explorations, I consult the phone's map again and type in the address of home for directions. New Hampshire I ride, a fairly long way, at one point having to stop to put the chain back on the chainring, downhill, here and there elderly African American men sitting out on stoops, until finding Park Road, then Columbia Heights, downhill to Florida, then back across 18th and then finally Connecticut. I've crossed past many row houses and apartment buildings, many front porches with iron banisters and supports, many a brick.
I wake up in the morning light on the couch still, embarrassingly, in my clothes, still with my sneakers on, and feeling too fuzzy even to want to watch the Tour proceed into the Alps, feeling that familiar having lost control of myself with the wine, feeling very stupid, having gone off on a lone adventure that might strike most as madness. I put myself to bed for three more hours sleep. Was this the cumulative toll of the work week, and four nights enough to put me right back to my strange schedule, the equivalent of Happy Hour being midnight... How can I get out of this insanity...
The exhaustion of yesterday has cleared, though there is no desire for going out of any sort, this being a necessary day of recovery for the writer struggling with his job as barkeep and his self-inflicted wounds.
So where does a sense of direction come from? What is the vision that leads you? I think I know better now how to take things at my own pace, a necessary thing. By 7:30 in the evening I am ready for a bike ride, at very much my own pace, and maybe in the end there is respect between the sexes.