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Friday, August 25, 2006

"Subliminal Distances of the West"

this one came from our recent trip through 4 Western States and Yellowstone...

"Subliminal Distances of the West"

story by Avi Abrams - copyright 2006

Steering with one hand, holding espresso cup with the other... vaguely entertained by the rhythmic monotony of phone poles, he was glad to see the mountains finally become something of a destination. They were still hardly a blur over the horizon, shimmering in a haze over the interstate and not coming any closer for a long, long time.

Empty miles stretched like a tortured, immense "rubber soul" of the highway (too much "Beatles" music on this trip?). Prairie around him looked like a beige blanket spread over some mysterious and vast skeletal mechanism of rock and earth. Mountains surged up from it like a naked revelation, and miles and miles before them seemed to cower and shrink, propelling his car faster ahead.

A hundred and eighty miles to the Yellowstone area, according to the road map... Bugs perished by the thousands on the windshield; wind gusts nabbed his car in a slight but persistent manner, not unlike the kicks of an unseen baby in the womb. With no visible clouds, the sky glared down - dry like a washed-out canvas; trees crowded closer to the foothills in an unanimous green mass. Time seemed to lay suspended over the highway like a stretched hammock, swinging his Jeep higher and higher, almost to the mountain tops...

"Tourists do not realize when visiting this area that they walk in the crater of the most powerful volcano on Earth". A mosquito is pretty certain that the hand on which it lands cannot squash him... then it suddenly discovers a presence of another hand.

The Yellowstone Mountains spell doom (volcanic), encouragement (spiritual) and indifference (of a haughty and inaccessible kind). Hazy hieroglyphs of clouds appear on their jagged tops, as to further underline the message. Glacial waterfalls reach like fingers to the arid land, consumed and propagated by mighty rivers to the outlying enormity. Harsh distances of time and hard work lay barren beneath the ephemeral skyscape, a sky more alluring and interesting than the necessary foundation of prairie. Car beetles single-mindedly gnaw the bark of far-strewn highways, and human construction fluff blows away across space and time like a bleached rolling stone - the mountains look down on all that and only open their treasured caverns to the world's examination once in a thousand years.

"Somebody has to roll up the carpet, kill the distances", he thought, finishing his espresso, "Make time shrivel into a more dynamic knot. Then we will see the landscape come alive, just like God sees it." But such vistas were not meant for men, who like moles, are destined to burrow through time and space to reach a desired destination. Our short-lived works and hopes wash against the mountains in a tide of faint "o-oh"s and "a-ah"s, not leaving any impression.

Another eighty miles to the Crazy Mountains Range, ensured the sign.
After an hour, he stopped to fill up the car, and then drove up to a funny looking espresso booth. It was in the shape of a mushroom and promised a "Fusion" coffee mix, enhanced with some secret ingredients. "Shave off a chunk off your boredom and the remaining miles" proclaimed the poster. A guy in a bright orange mushroom hat handed him the black frothy cup with a sparkle in his eyes and a mysterious wink.

A few miles down the road he drank it and again wished that all distances be rolled up into a knot and thrown into the junkyard of time. Then suddenly he knew that his wish was granted:

... Without even a moment to be amazed, he (and his car) underwent a startling transformation. Apparently kicked out of standard space and time, his mind was divided into two entities: one pierced the ground under the highway, going deeper and... wider... becoming one with the hot (sentient?) body of magma under the Montana/Idaho border. The other half grew very insubstantial and on the wings of clouds covered the sky of all the four Western states.

Mountains became his teeth, geysers - his eyes, lava flows - his neurons, and time itself became the air he was breathing.
His being now disregarded distances completely. There was nothing to delay or obstruct the carrying out of orders - of a booming marvelous Voice, which resounded in his caves and echoed in his lakes. All emotion was stripped from him, all choice and consideration. The only thing left was to precisely follow the instructions of the Voice. He felt a grandiose sense of glory and belonging... He was opening up springs of pure water, shifting tectonic plates, drawing patterns with different colored rocks and mud, herding streams and rivers - and all the while brooding over the ominous thoughts in the flaming magma chamber of his mind. There was an urgency in these thoughts, the need to act...

But the moment of his action (that blessed moment of cataclysmic release of the accumulated tremendous pressure) was delayed... and delayed again. The Voice did not leave him any choice in this matter. In fact there is never a choice in this Kingdom... Never a journey, only a destination.

In a split moment, he came to his senses, staring dumbfoundedly into the empty espresso cup. "Some secret ingredient", he muttered, desperately trying to concentrate on his driving. The mountains were still thirty miles away.

"We are given Time and Distance as tools to shape our lives", he wrote later in his journal. "Just as we are given choice to determine our eternal destiny. We are entrusted with small things first, such as miles and minutes. What are we going to do with them?"
He finished writing, switched off the light and went soundly to sleep.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the idea that the Earth itself, choiceless, is contrasted sharply with the journey of the human soul.

4:19 PM  

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