Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Final Countdown...

Of all virtues I choose to exhibit, patience is the least of these. That is not to say I want to be patient; conversely, I find that those who are faithful and make peace with time are to be the wisest and most admirable individuals I have ever encountered. The act of patience is not a desirable activity. My desires need to be satiated immediately, otherwise they become troublesome and taunting artifacts in a museum of things not meant for me. I do not desire patience; however, patience has desired me.

Leading up to this trip, I've turned my ears to life's lessons and the virtue of patience has been omnipresent. For a few weeks, I was asked by Eric Severson to sit in on his "Ethics and Film" class and help out with discussions/lessons/pressing play on the DVD player. In spite of my worthless IMDB-esque ability to pull out asinine facts about directors, cinematographers, film theory, etc., I found myself astute to philosophies and lessons being portrayed on the screen and in Severson's words. The most profound of which came from the 1969 Dennis Hopper film entitled "Easy Rider." Now, I have seen this film numerous times, mostly in the context of an introduction by a sedated friend saying: "Hey man, you know.. man... we should totally watch that motorcycle movie... man." I had not seen the film as an existential work, a meditation on patience, and the urgent call for the appreciation of the HERE! and NOW!

Stephen Mapes said it more eloquently than I ever could:

"The very layout of the film ("Easy Rider") seems to reflect what Sartre and Camus (especially Camus) are trying to explain. If we look at the film from a teleological way, hoping for some meaningful end to approach, we are let down. While the goal of the film is to reach New Orleans, the result is not what we had intended ("We blew it," says Fonda's character). What did they blow? Is it because they wasted their time with the drugs they had taken?

I think they blew it because they were so focused on the final goal that they missed the beautiful absurdity of the journey there. The beauty of "Easy Rider" is in the experience of the journey, just as Camus would argue for life. The wisest man, says Camus, does nothing for the future, for in the end, the future is nothing but death. Taken from this existentialist viewpoint, Easy Rider makes perfect sense. For those seeking an end goal, however, it appears to be nothing but a strange and pointless string of events."

This film haunts me, much like the "Diving Bell & The Butterfly" does with portraying the frailty of life. It envelops me with the sobering awareness of my tendency to look forward to final goals.. the finish line, the end of the work day, the weekend, etc.. The impatience of the moment only blindfolds me of the beauty in every moment I have graciously been given. My awareness became only more attuned with the introduction of a very important friend in my life.

My interactions with this individual shall be unwritten save for one moment, for the likelihood of trying to recreate such experiences is an almost impossible task in the restrictive medium of writing, specifically within the confines of an internet blog. Only Richard Linklater and a Steadicam could ever come close. The one interaction I speak of involves the blatant disregard for a "No Trespassing" sign, a winding road, a hill, an empty mansion, and a tree. As I sat in this moment, I was filled with a sense of melancholy... fully knowing that this moment, like all moments, shall soon pass. I was completely oblivious to the beauty that surrounded us. I felt as if I were an observer, not fully aware of my senses and clouded in ambiguity. I then began to speak of this acknowledgment and my friend, on the contrary, exhibited the wisdom to kick off her shoes and physically run down the hill and away from the "reality" I was trying to create. I then joined her. It was a moment of profound importance to me. Someone with wisdom, well beyond her years, reinforced in me what could very well blind me of the beauty of the journey I am to embark upon. For that, and to her, I am forever grateful.

This trip could very well be nothing more than marks on a map, miles put behind me, looking forward to the next campsite or motel that lies ahead. This trip could be nothing more than an accomplishment. Bragging rights. This trip could be nothing more than a mental and physical challenge that I always find myself looking for. -- I do not want any of these things. I want to experience the beauty of every moment. I do not want to bike with my head down, only focusing on that 10 to 20 yards that lie ahead of me. I want complete awareness of my surroundings, a three hundred and sixty degree vision and appreciation for the landscapes, faces, stray dogs, encroaching storm clouds, abandoned vehicles, weathered fences, church towers, corn fields, honks and waves, and all that dances in between these things... If I can do this... I can keep myself in tune with the precious moment... everything else will fall into place. I want to fall in love with every moment... from the beautiful mountainside climbs, to the torrential downpours in the middle of nowhere. Let me not forsake these gifts.

These past few weeks have unearthed a sense of rebirth within me. A time of loss and mourning, of joy and love. I will take these experiences with me as unencumbered baggage... calling forth on these experiences and lessons to greater adore and appreciate the life we've been given.

I'll end this blog entry with the brilliant and prophetic words of Kahlil Gibran:

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall."


Nicole Kendra Mazzeo said...

You used a lot of words that drove me to for definitions. Of course, thesauri are more useful than dictionaries in all circumstances, so I asked the thesaurus what words are synonymous with unencumbered. He said, "free; free as a bird."

Philip Oliver said...

Hope you find the time to post while you're on the road... I look forward to it. And I'll leave comments! No worries, its important to know your work that exists in the oblivion of "the internet," is being noticed. I'm getting my own blog and photography website up and running soon, so hopefully you'll see it before you reach Kansas City!

I'll be by the store before you leave.

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