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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Afternoon Reverie, July 29, 2008

Good morning, Netizens...

I was resigned to the fact living in a long-haul truck on the road would be my life until I graduated from college, or I died, whichever came first, for I was always as in love with the life on the road as I was with the ocean.

Like all good things, I knew driving long-haul truck for a living had to come to a close, and the difficulty of making that decision, of walking away from that which had supported me for most of my adult life, brought me through a circuitous route to the tiny town of Gorda, California, at the southernmost end of Big Sur Country. I had left my truck at a repair shop in Ventura, California and hitched a ride northbound, since my truck was going to be waylaid for at least two weeks after blowing a turbocharger and sucking the pieces of metal into the engine. One of the great mysteries of life is that truck had used less than half its life expectancy. Was that a message?

True, I more or less had already decided to quit the trucking business, but I could not, for the life of me, make that last run, fill out the last log book entry, and simply walk away. I knew I had a serious problem with alcohol addiction, although I hadn't touched the stuff in several years. I knew I had a drug addiction to those “little white pills” I munched like candy, which was more collateral damage from the road. I also knew I had a heady series of college degrees, not one of which seemed to interest me one bit at that point. I simply needed some peace and quiet. I needed to get away from The Road. I needed to decide. The Road was my life.

Without wheels nor a compass, I hitched-hiked North. It wouldn't be the first time I had thumbed a ride. I met some semi-crazy people who more or less took me in when I ran out of rides at the Gorda Store on the Pacific Coast Highway. I had a fair amount of disposable income on hand, and they told me of an abandoned shack up the road a piece where I could stay for low/no rent, and less than a quarter-mile away, was the Pacific Ocean, still calling to me. I admit my first few days above the Stone House were spent sitting on a rock, listening to the sea, and wandering along the spit of sand further down the cliff next to the water's edge. While I had always lived most of my life alone, this had meaning and I began to write for the first time in years, as I knew I eventually would.

The two weeks stretched out into two months, and several of the pieces I wrote were published here and there, and through that experience, I met the folks from Esalen, who invited me up to sit in one of their hot tubs, and sitting in a hot tub late one afternoon, I met several monks from Tassajara, who were not the least bit like I had ever envisioned Buddhist monks to be. Ironically, the monks seemed to be more interested in helping me find Inner Peace than they were converting me from the Protestant faith to Buddhism. What a novel approach to religion!

I suddenly found I could still remember how to pray, and each day, just before sunrise and sunset, I would go down to the ocean's edge and spent quiet time in solitary, for there was no other word nor phrase that could describe how I was changing. Of this time, I only remember selling my truck, and after retrieving my few personal possessions from the sleeper, I bought an ugly car, a Borgward Goliath, because it had a Blaupunkt radio that worked, which I drove from South Texas to the Stone House near Gorda. I remain convinced that was a Zen car, because it ran forever up and down incredibly bad roads of Big Sur and never hesitated, and thanks to the Blaupunkt radio, I could listen to classical music in Big Sur. Imagine that.

Of the ocean all I can say is that was where I rid myself of many demons and found instead, my belief. It played an valuable role in the beginning of an end, and the beginning of a new start. To this day, I can close my eyes and still hear the ocean calling me, and I answer, “I stand beside the shore where I found enlightenment.”

What does the ocean say to you?

For Jeanie, who I think understands.


Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.