Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bits o' Wisdom & Crumbs of 'Huh': part 2

Pathway (Mt Tremper, NY)

I left the woods and drove down the mountain. The monastery, of course, was right around the corner, about a quarter of a mile further on down the same road I'd driven at least twice. Looking at the sign felt like a tiny memory-injection of Japan, but it was so clear that I'd already done all the things I needed to do in Mt. Tremper that I kept driving. For a couple of days, I wandered through New York state, and at one point I did indeed go to Woodstock (though I remember it, so maybe I didn't really go there after all...). By the time I started the drive to Pennsylvania, I felt pretty good - reborn, in a way, and definitely refreshed.

My itinerary was pretty simple - visit with my friend Dee and her little daughter, find a decent mechanic (my car needed a checkup, but nothing that couldn't wait), and maybe explore some of the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside. In the meantime, the sun was out, the scenery was beautiful, the traffic was cruising along at a steady pace...and then I hit New Jersey.
I found out later that the traffic in that (very rural) part of New Jersey was backed up because of an overturned tractor trailer, but at the time I thought it was due to rush hour. So I settled in for a long, bumper-to-bumper wait, and had just decided to make some phone calls, when my hubcap -my new hubcap, the one I'd been casually looking for for since last November, and had just found in the woods the day before, at which point it had fit perfectly- started rattling.
Now, I should point out that I drive a Chevy Prizm. And as far as I can figure, this particular hubcap came from a Plymouth Seabreeze. But still. It fit. And I'd been trying to manifest a new hubcap for months, so I certainly wasn't about to turn this one down because it didn't match. Also, I'd found it in the woods, which practically counts as wildcrafting, and I have what amounts to a near-compulsion when it comes to wildcrafting anything, be it edible, medicinal, or transportational.
The point is, I'm quite pleased with my new hubcap. My hubcap and I are going to cover lots of ground together. There was no reason for it to start making noise as we crawled along the backed-up New Jersey highway. But it did, so I pulled over, kicked it back into place, and started driving again.
Have you ever had a loose hubcap? You know that noise, that gravelly, vibration-y sort of noise?
You know that noise.
So do I. Which is why when I heard it again, about 10 minutes -roughly 200 yards- later, I sighed and pulled over. Again.
I gave it a few well-aimed kicks (again) and once again, it stayed in place for approximately 10 minutes, or until the next exit, at which point I was pretty much itching to get off the highway and out of traffic. I'd also been eying the really pretty adjacent country road with all the farm stands, so getting off the highway was a no-brainer. Ditto pulling into the first service shop I came to (which was conveniently located across the street from the campground where -little did I know- I'd end up spending the night).

Now, I'm a friendly sort of critter, and I like to think I know the difference between when people are being friendly and when they're flirting. I've got no problem rolling into a strange mechanic's and asking if they've got a new hubcap. I admit to being a little surprised when I mumble something to myself in Japanese and the mechanic replies in the same tongue; even more so when he seems less interested in the practical issue of whether or not he's got a hubcap that fits and more invested in hearing why I'm driving around with one from a Seabreeze, what all the plants that are drying in the back of my car are called, and do I happen to have any herbs to make his beard grow faster?
Still, unexpected as this is, I can deal.

What I almost couldn't deal with (really. I had a little hissy fit right there in the parking lot.) is the fact that when the mechanic in question happened to check the oil, it turned out to be empty. Like, 4/5 empty. And the transmission fluid was basically black. And, ummm, I hadn't checked it in months and I am on a ROAD TRIP. How did this skip my attention!?

I'll tell you how: I was operating with full confidence that I was going to find the right service station, probably in Pennsylvania, and anything that needed tending would be taken care of in due time.

Like I said, I was convinced of this.
Absolutely certain - so certain, in fact, that before I left New Hampshire I blithely turned down any and all offers and reminders to get it serviced, wrote down a list of things that my uncle suggested I have checked, set aside some money to have it all done, and -as of this story- was literally planning on finding a service station the next day.
So everything happened more or less as expected, if not a little sooner.
Nevertheless, there's a fine line between having faith and abdicating responsibility, and somehow, in the midst of everything else - and this kind of makes me cringe when I think about it, though that may have more to do with the scolding I got from the mechanic than anything else - I had forgotten to check the oil. More than forgotten, actually: I had sort of blanked in that linear-time-has-no-meaning-in-my-world way that I do, and was truly convinced that I'd had it checked no more than a month ago.
Which is practically yesterday, right?
Try several months ago. Several, several months.

In my defense, I'd like to point out that a) linear timekeeping is an incredibly new sort of mental technology, b) I naturally dance to a far older sort of rhythm, and b) if we'd just go back to the cyclical, seasonal sense of time that virtually all of our ancestors followed, we'd be much more aligned with our environment, our bodies, and the world as a whole, everybody'd be happier and probably healthier, and starting now, I vote to ignore all clocks as a symbolic gesture of resistance against the capitalist, anti-nature patriarchy! Who's with me??
I'm obviously on my own on this one. Still, from now on I'm getting my car serviced every time the seasons change, as well as when the damn odometer says I have to. (And yes, I will also try to check the oil every other time I fill the tank, a practice I used to do when I bought my first car, and somehow got out of the habit of doing).

Anyway, the mechanic (who's given name is Gabriel: you know, the messenger? I'll give it a minute to sink in.) was on his way to yoga (thereby overturning the first of way too many stereotypes I'd been holding onto, and hallelujah for that, since they obviously needed changing even more than my oil), but he offered to come in early the next day to take care of all the stuff that needed doing. And invited me to lunch.
So I one-upped him and invited him to breakfast.

Now, I have to admit that I was thrilled at the idea of having someone else to cook for, but it didn't hurt that he keeps chickens and offered to bring some fresh eggs. Or that when he did come over to the campground the next morning, he brought me a dozen and a half (Dee and I are still working our way through them), fresh pears, and a bouquet of wild flowers. Talk about smooth...

Anyway, to make a long story short, my car is happy again, the hubcap hasn't whispered a word of discontent since he popped it back in place, and over a breakfast of coffee, pear pancakes with chocolate sauce, and scrambled eggs (that I sadly committed sacrilege against when I mixed them with canned milk) my curiously well-traveled and well-versed mechanic-cum-messenger gave me several good pointers regarding all of this reality/duality/back-to-the-land stuff I keep stumbling over.

My head is filled with thoughts of balance, and alignment, and the myriad ways the various mechanisms of existence fit together and overlap. Now to synthesize it all....

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