Hello all.

We are back in Huntington, as you may know. One the way back east, Chris and I learned that our limit for grueling travel is seven days. At that point we need, not want, to sit in one place for two or three days before we can go back to the travel. Not a bad limit, really. So, we cut our trip short, and promised Mesa Verde and Great Sand Dunes National Parks that we’d visit another time.

The culture shock has been far more severe than I had anticipated. I think Chris has it a little worse than I do. He’d never lived outside of West Virginia, and it seems that the difference is hitting him kind of hard. It’s bad, and I don’t say most of it to anyone ever. But, that isn’t even the whole story.

I’m sitting in on two classes at Marshall right now. First is Nature of Religion, which I’ve already had. Partly I’m taking it because the teacher is using very different texts than when I took it. I’m also taking it to learn a bit more about how to teach.

The other class is about style and how it relates to asking ultimate questions and the answers you’ll get. As my teacher said, If you start with the tool ‘a hammer’ you will not get the answer, ‘pancakes’. It’s a team-taught seminar by two of my favorite, most dearly beloved teachers, and like all their classes that I’ve taken, it is deep and hard as hell and utterly more rewarding. Than what, you ask? Yes, I answer. It’s the kind of difficult that makes me actually feel proud of myself, because I can do that work.

So, I am utterly overjoyed in general. I have friends around me again, I have good, difficult intellectual work, and I have goals. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy, but what it takes is fairly specific.

All of this “news” avoids nearly everything of substance that I’ve thought or felt over the past 3 weeks, specifically regarding the trip.

The trip consisted of several living examples of Taoist and Zen teachings. For instance, when confronted by an enormous, unthinkable Utah landscape of hoodoos, arches, buttes and mesas, my impulse was to throw my camera into a ravine. I believe that were I sitting in a Zen monastery with a master, undergoing my interview concerning my answer to the koan, I believe that impulse would have been regarded as a correct answer.

I haven’t foisted my pictures on anyone, although they are available. I haven’t cornered friends and family and forced them listen to the sacred litany of Things I Have Seen. The only conceivable answer to the trip is silence. Now, I am a writer, and so I think that there is silence and there’s silence. I can keep my divine visitations to myself and be silent in the that way, but I can also talk about how unspeakable those things are. I can be a finger pointing, but the moon is always yours and ours alone.

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