My fingers dangle over the steering wheel of my ’65 mustang, melodically tapping to the beat of my favorite Rolling Stones jam. Cigarette smoke lingers in front of my lips. For a brief moment the smoke dances, bidding farewell as if it were the soul of a forsaken gypsy on its way out my window before alas it vanishes into the blistering summer air of the god-forsaken Mojave Desert. I’m driving straight into a fiery sun that sits atop the horizon. My eyes are squinted into hell-harrowing slits because I forgot my damned Ray Bans at some grimy Indian reservation gas station 300 miles back.
I’m tired and worn. I think of the road I’ve traveled and I look onward, into oblivion, because the road just keeps going. It never stops. I look at the course of human history and it seems to me that when people chased dreams they always went west, and thats why California is a such a diverse place, saturated with beautiful disasters, the rejects of the world, broken hearts, and the rich and famous. It’s exactly why Sunset Boulevard is also known as The Boulevard of Broken Dreams. So I admit, I have no destination. I’m just chasing sunsets.
I pass a rustic, wind-blown road sign that reads LA, 186 miles. Then I look at my road atlas, at the highlighted route that I rambled along to see all the bewitching sights of the God-blessed-US-of-A. I start to think to myself, “Mankind did it. We conquered the world.” Everywhere you go on this earth there is our footprint. We’ve crisscrossed the globe. We’ve connected train tracks from sea to shining sea, we’ve put roads all across the world to take us wherever our little hearts desire, like pulsing veins that carry the life blood throughout our bodies. We made spaceships that took us to the moon so that man could look back and marvel at the earth. We built an Internet that connects people from every corner of the world into one massive incomprehensible synchronistic machine. We’ve created all of these amazing things that have become… oh so ordinary.
I can’t chase the sun fast enough.
My mind begins to race. I leave my body and enter a parallel universe. One in which I am omniscient. A protagonist that sees the whole picture with lucid clarity. I’m watching myself speed down the I-10 in southeastern California but at the same time I am watching an elephant drink from a river in India, I’m watching my mother cook my favorite meal in the kitchen when I was 11 years old, a couple of newlyweds fishing from a dock in Maine, a caveman sharpening his spear, a painter striking his last brushstroke on a canvas in Buenos Aires, a baby being born in Nigeria, and an archaic woman steering a wobbly wheelbarrow full of rice in China.
In an instant I am back in my ’65 Mustang, Rolling Stones blaring through the speakers.
I pull over. Is it Deja vu? Are the menacing desert sands making me hallucinate? How can I be here yet see all things in the world at once? My brain continues to flash images. Beads of sweat are forming on my forehead as I step out of my mustang to get some fresh desert air. A hawk is watching me from across the road. Ominous.
The speed of light. My mind is racing, thinking, thinking, thinking about the endless possibilities. The whys, the hows, and the why nots. The questions that mankind has fought bloody battles over since antiquity’s inception. Religion, love, and power. I keep looking west. I can’t chase the sun fast enough. It’s disappeared, scorching the sky with its twilight tints of auburn, red and lavender. The moon will light the way soon; as soon as alarm clocks are beeping in Tokyo. As soon as coffee’s aroma pervades the gray and murky air of Moscow.
I can’t help but wonder how I got here. How and why I’m standing here on this lonesome desert highway. For a moment my thoughts shift back to the far east, the direction of nostalgia. I trace my bloodline back to medieval times. I’m convinced that in the year 1194 an ancestor of mine escaped death in the gallows of an ancient castle. Perhaps he was a peasant that coaxed his way out of being burned at the stake. Or maybe he was a knight that, in a decisive battle, eluded death by shifting his head back an extra half-inch, so that the tip of the sword barely brushed his throat rather than the brunt slicing through it. I think of the delicacy of the torch of life and wonder how many stars had to align to bring me to this very ground I occupy today. We all have an epic, untold story of how we got here. A story of which we could conjecture mysterious tales that are frozen in the past.
In the middle of the road I see a single white feather, a symbol that reminds me…
It is written.
The hand that writes the story of your life is the same hand that is attached to your wrist. So etch it in stone. Make it a lovely depiction.
I stop thinking. I let my eyes soak in the beauty around me. It is when I stop thinking that the ominous hawk flies away. I watch it disappear into the fading westward sky. I take a deep breath. A breath that fills my lungs with bliss because I realize we all have a purpose to serve in this world. And that we all have a sunset to chase.