On the Road vs. Here by Simeon Griffin
Here is my view as I write this:
On the road, a week ago, this was my view:
Here, I am sitting on the balcony of my apartment looking at other balconies on other apartments. A girl walks by on the grass below. Her head is down looking at the grass or thinking about where she is going. I can hear birds. I can see trees. And I can see a blue sky littered with white clouds, but mostly I spend my time thinking about where I’m going, what I need to do, and if I will have time to do such and such thing after that other much needed thing.
On the road, I was outside on the road, it felt like every single day was being seized, even when Big Sur was closed and we spent four hours making an hour and a half drive from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. We stopped here because it was sunset and we wanted one more glimpse of the west coast before heading home.
Here, back in Oklahoma I am fighting against returning to the so called “inside” life. A life contained by computer screens, things to do, people to please, and very, very little time to listen to birds share stories.
On the road, I was outside and even with hours spent in the car I could just roll down a window and catch the breeze and look out the window to see the oceans or mountains or miles of grasslands.
Here, I’m inside and I’m growing tired and every day feels like there is something I need to be doing so I rush about and do things, but still feel as though I am missing what I am needing to be doing.
On the road, I would write or I wouldn’t, mostly wouldn’t and I felt fine about that. In fact, I felt so fine about not writing, that I almost (but not quite) started feeling worried that I felt so fine about not writing.
Here, it feels like I can’t do enough writing, can’t finish all my school, can’t be present or mindful while I am at work, can’t keep my head above water. There seems to be a million things that need to be done, twenty things that I am forgetting, and thirty-four-thousand things I am being asked to do.
On the road, there is this temptation to say that I could and got to do whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted, but that is not the case. The agenda was our agenda, not my agenda and we split it between seeing friends (although we wish we could have seen so many more), seeing monuments and works of art made by Nature’s very hands, and driving, lots of driving, lots of farting, of laughing, of joking, of talking theory, justice, love and spinning our head in circles as we dealt with the massive amounts of contradictions within ourselves and the world we live in. There was picture taking and smiling and beer drinking, sleeping (deeply) in Wal-Mart parking lots, and being struck silent by the beauty held within this little blue sphere.
Here, there is perhaps a disconnect, a discontent. There are routines that I don’t want to adhere to and demands that don’t produce the obvious beauty I saw on the road and yes, I don’t have to stay. I could go, but there are reasons I want to stay and I think I should. Big reasons like school and family and her school and family and smaller reasons like my lease, my job, and probably some other things I’d imagine. However, I do think there is an important lesson to learn while I am here and that is to learn how to live, freely, like I did on the road.
On the road, there was an awareness that beauty was around the bend, within grasp, or right before our eyes. There was a connectedness with the earth, the sky, with humanity, with love. There was a grace with myself that I did not need to achieve something to be good enough to witness beauty, because here I was witnessing beauty. I did not need to be a NYT bestseller to be able to afford to travel. I’ve always admired van living and here I was improvising in the best of ways. The Redwoods did not ask for my college diploma or check my job history in order for me to gain entry. They simply let me in, respecting me and trusting that I would respect them.
Here, yes, there are demands. There are more apartments and barred balconies that block my view. But I live in the fucking Heartland man! The mountains are a drive away, the ocean—a drive away, the desert within distance, not to mention every park I can bike to, every tree I can climb, every wild breath of fresh air that I can take deep and hold within these lungs. There are still an infinite amount of stars to gaze upon and a moon that is just as bright and if I walk twenty feet out of my apartment complex I can see the sunset. And the people—oh the people. They are just as beautiful here as anywhere.
On the road, as well as, here I can choose to step outside, choose to engage, choose to see and be present. There is only one stark difference. On the road, I do not question nature or its power to liberate me, free me, and put me at rest. Here though, I wonder what good going to the same damn park I went to, as a kid will do for me. I question what the trees, rocks, grass, water, and dirt will help me accomplish. What the fuck can dirt do for me?