I jerk myself out of a dream where I am trying to wash my dreadlocks in the neighbor’s scalding shower. (Combining NyQuil and alcohol is not recommended by the Surgeon General, not only because it gives you bizzare dreams, but also because it can kill you.)
Sunlight suffuses the moonroof, baking the interior of my car. My left eye is thick from the ointment the doctor gave me. My hair is not wet, but a nest that I can’t get out of my eyes, and I’m pricked by the nagging sensation that I’m neglecting something that needs care, the same sensation I get when my heart signals pain and I suppress it.
I rummage in my pack for a hat.
Beyond the windshield, an edge of Lake Superior glimmers under the sun. I open the door, falling out onto the wayside parking lot in mismatched socks and sweats.
That first intake of cold September air should be a spark, that flint on stone igniting my love of the adventure. It should be a breath of life, sending blood to my fingertips and oxygen to my heart, it should make my head spin with its richness.
But I have a sinus infection and can barely pull air through my nose.
Somehow, the glory of the morning is diminished by the struggle to get here.
And now the immediacy of the adventure is threatened by my restlessness. What should I do today? Wander the business district of Two Harbors? Find its sole coffee shop and hope they have Wifi? Suntan on the rocks?
I could buckle down in the front seat (no pun intended) and set to work reining the mane on my head. That strays dangerously close to attending to my grief…
Isn’t that what he’s after, though? Bringing me to the wild north to incorporate within myself the death of a dream, whether by writing or walking shorelines or ripping hair.
A couple days before I left on this trip, I told my friend Sydney that the greatest adventure takes place in her heart. Allowing the Spirit to teach her its rhythms is what will satisfy the craving she can’t explain, more than the next project, place, or person.
The doctor makes the worst patient, I guess. Here I am, sleeping in Pippin in waysides, looking for a champion cappuccino, for the savagest spot on the North Shore, the furthest distance I can get in four days, all the while scrounging the undersides of desire, murdering for motivation to write, wrestling back my loneliness. (Adventures weren’t meant to be had alone.)
Presently, the greatest adventure is the rhythm of sorrow. No one I know volunteers for that solo trip.
The fact remains that I am not yet halfway through this excursion, and intend to see it through, be it lonely and unprofitable. I suppose if I ask the Spirit, he will give me new eyes to see the glory.
In an attempt to feel less like a deadman, I wash my face and change into jeans.
With a paper cup of coffee, I go down to the waterline and sit on a rock, and, for as long as I can bear, let sorrow’s rhythm punctuate my awareness.
If this adventure will end at a healing junction, and this excursion is a waypoint in that adventure, then I will do what any good traveler does and acclimate.
Ok, Jesus, I say. Before this excursion is over, let me have one good cry, and then we’ll get on with the solo trip.