gila bend, az to willcox, az
10.03.2010 - 10.03.2010 72 °F
today started out much like the others; wake up, clean up, pack up and head out. instead of grabbing a protein bar and a cup of coffee for the road, i decided to treat myself to a real breakfast in a real restaurant. i pulled into the Outer Limits Café, a space-themed restaurant in the heart of Gila Bend, AZ. albeit a little run down, the food was exactly what i was craving: a traditional trucker breakfast. the eggs were fried in real butter, the bacon had real fat attached and the pancakes melted in my mouth. it was a little slice of heaven. it was also the place that i met my new grandparents.
i decided to adopt them when i realized it was they that belonged to the two motorcycles parked next to El Monsterito. pushing seventy (if not seventy-five), the two couples were dressed in full leathers, the men in chaps and the women in a traditional mom-jean cut. both of the ladies were sporting the cutest little hats, one with an animal print band and the other with jewel-tone sequin things that went perfectly with the space-age theme of the restaurant. i wanted to take them home immediately. they were even nice enough to let me take their picture so i could show my mom that she’s not too old to get back on the hog.
soon after getting back on the road, i noticed a strong fuel smell that was not going away. it seemed to intensify as i traveled down the road, to the point where my nostrils were burning and my stomach was turning. i pulled off the highway at a picnic area to check for leaks. finding nothing but a beautiful view, i returned to the road. unfortunately for me, the smell did not dissipate. i had to stop every half hour or so to get fresh air as the stench was so strong that even having the windows down did nothing to alleviate the suffering of sinuses.
the good thing about this was it forced me to slow down and take notice of my surroundings. during my longest break, at Picacho Peak, i walked along a desert path at half-speed, performing a meditation technique i read about in a book by Paulo Coehlo. i forced myself to slow down, not only in body but in mind as well. i took myself out of the frenetic place in my head that constantly worries about how many miles in how many hours and when i’m going to get where and how much time i’ve wasted doing god knows what and how much gas i’m going to need and where i’m going to sleep and eat and and and… and brought myself back to the moment i was actually in. i slowed even further, carefully placing first my heel, then arch, ball and toes; rolling slowly forward, noticing the way the rocks beneath my feet looked, sounded, felt. i noticed the tiny white buds on the groundcover, the exact texture of each cactus i passed, the tiny yellow flower all by itself in the rocky soil.
i was reminded that we are not alone in this world; that no matter how much we try to re-form this earth to suit our preferences and our conveniences and our comforts, we do not own it. i thought of all the people that had passed this way before, first on foot, then on horses or in wagons and now speeding along in vehicles. i realized that the faster we go, the more we miss along the way; the more focused on the outcome, the more we miss the process. it occurred to me that perhaps, all of those things that we surround ourselves with to make our lives easier instead entrap us in a false reality. we become so consumed with the desire to own, to do, to achieve, to accomplish, to succeed that we forget that life is happening right now. life does not lie in what might come tomorrow or what happened yesterday, but in this very moment. this is the most important moment of your life.
i also realized just how self-focused i have become over the past few years. i’ve been trying so hard to make sense of my life and all of the things that have happened that i’ve forgotten to stay connected to the rest of the world. i’ve neglected my family, my friends and even my larger commitment to the world. in trying to figure out the whys and hows of my past and future, i’ve forgotten to stay plugged into the people, places and things that really matter to me. i’ve become just as shallow and self-serving as the people i roll my inner eye at as i walk by and judge myself superior in every way (which is of course, ludicrous).
it’s such a slow, insidious process that i hardly noticed it happening. i had become the center of my own universe and began to separate myself from everyone else, turning my eye inward and warping reality so that it fit with the script i had written for my life. i re-cast the characters so that i was always the one in the right, the one who had been wronged, the one who would prevail.
being the leading woman in my own story, i started treating people as supporting actors.
of course, all i can do to change this is to remember the lessons of today: stay focused, stay present, stay attentive. live, now.