Archive for January, 2009

Creativity Divides The Species

January 31, 2009
boat railing fog

When I Look Up From My Writing Table, I See Only Products Of Creativity—This Boat And All Its Contents

The Canadian Side Of Lake Huron

Aug. 15, ‘82

I’m somewhere in the suburbs of Niagara Falls, Canada, sitting in a restaurant, watching the sunset out the window while drinking a Labbats Blue. Last night I camped in a corn field forty miles from here. By ten in the morning I was enjoying the falls. I spent most of the afternoon walking up and down the sidewalk on the Canadian side of the falls enjoying the view of both the American and Canadian Falls.

As I look at the map, I am noticing that I will arrive home a couple days early. Home sounds good, but my original plan was to bicycle the Georgian Bay area of Ontario, and come back into Michigan through Sault St. Marie. I guess I’m back on track now.

Aug. 18

Dad died one year ago today. The firmament is a better place now that all his good energy has merged with it.

I’m sitting on the ferry, on my way to Manitoulin Island. Even though I began biking at 6:30 this morning, this is my first cup of coffee. I had to pedal 45 miles in four and a half hours to catch the ferry’s 11:20 departure time. I was lucky to make it. The last couple of days I have been heading into a 25 to 30 mile per hour wind. All that pushing has taken a painful toll on my knees. Biking out of Niagara Falls was something of a headache, also. I could tell that finding a camping spot in Canada’s more densely populated areas was not going to be easy.

While waiting at a bridge that was drawn up to let a freighter pass, I noticed some campers down by the canal. I still had some biking time left, but I wanted to avoid camping hassles, so I went down and asked the guy if I could set up my tent. He told me to ask the man running the bridge. He, the man running the bridge, did one better. He offered me his backyard to camp in, which was only a stone’s throw from the bridge. After I set up camp, I went back to visit the old guy. By the time I left to go back to my tent I could run the bridge, and I knew a whole lot more about navigation.

The scenery along the Georgian Bay is very beautiful. I almost hate to be writing, but I’m too tired to get up and walk. I will let the big picture window in front of me suffice for now. The water is very, very blue.

My decision to go north instead of west was a good one, but it should have been accompanied with enough time to enjoy the area. I am, however, trying hard to enjoy what little time I have. Here are a few supplemental notes on this trip:

A. The weather has been exceptional. Almost every day I have enjoyed looking out at beautiful clouds. If this trip needed a label, it would be called: The Trip Of The Clouds.

B. A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a grocery store, but nothing looked good. I settled for some cheese and crackers. I had just come from a bar so my thirst had been quenched. The bar was definitely called for because I had just pedaled 90 miles on extremely busy highways. The cheese and crackers were more than just something to eat. They were memorable bits of nostalgia because twelve years ago, when I was hitchhiking around California, those pocket size packages served as my staple food.

C. Finally, a few notes are in order concerning freedom as it relates to my ideas of the past couple of years. I might add, however, that I have already forgotten most of the important ones. My ideas come and go almost like free association. I’ll be thinking of something almost totally irrelevant, and all of a sudden something clicks, and I see it new, as if for the first time. Anyway, many people disagree that a whole new dimension separates the animal world from Homo sapiens. However, when I look up from my writing table, I see only the products of creativity. This boat and everything in it is a product of human creativity, and it is this creativity that divides the species. All too often we take for granted our environment of creative communication, but it is this environment– this act of understanding and agreement– that separates us from other primates. It is a matter of kind, not degree. Indeed, this possibility– this act of understanding and agreement– liberates, through technological progress, not just the human body, but also, by generating a more inclusive social consciousness, the human soul as well.

D. That’s it for now. The captain says it’s time to depart, so I have to guzzle this beer, and it’s off to see more of the Georgian Bay area of Canada. It is true that I have forgotten many of the things that I should have remembered, but they will come back; that is, as long as I keep thinking.

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The Earth Is My Home And It Feels Really, Really, Good

January 24, 2009
pic'07

New York State Is Not Only Beautiful It Is Full Of Surprises

Coffee At McDonalds Is Getting To Be A Habit-And A Good Place To Write

Aug. 11, ‘82

Woosh! I’ve been tested, and it’s not fun. In Glenn Falls, New York I finally found a bank that would honor my card, but as I was getting down to business the guy behind the counter told me the bank was under a new name and I had to go elsewhere. “Another 50 miles down the road,” he said. I could get my money there. That was another 60 miles south, not to mention the city traffic that I had to fight while bicycling.

Well, it’s 8 pm, and I’m sitting in my tent drinking genuine Pennsylvania Dutch birch beer–root beer–and eating Oreo cookies. Wow, what a day, in fact what a couple of days! I have been so wound up over this money thing that I have not had time to enjoy myself — not even a little. I’m headed to Syracuse, New York; that is, if my twenty bucks will keep me alive that long.

My money is waiting for me in Syracuse. How do I know that–because after talking to the Prestige people over the phone, I called the bank and they confirmed it. I spent the whole day trying to figure out the money thing. I even switched tactics. When I pulled into a bar around 4 pm, I called back to Michigan to see if Richard, my good friend, would wire me some. He wasn’t home. Then I called my brother, no luck there either. By the time I had made all the right phone calls, I was in a terrible mood. When I finally left the bar, though, the clouds were white and the sun was hot. Even if things didn’t work out, I was not going to worry anymore. I was free again.

It’s getting to dark to write, so I’ll hurry this one up. Last night I camped behind some trees in a farmer’s field. The mosquitoes were terrible. Tonight I have repellent on, but they’re not so bad. I’m up in the woods tonight, on posted land, but I feel safe. Tomorrow is another day—goodnight!

Aug. 14

Coffee at McDonalds is getting to be a habit. It’s free refills, and a good place to write. Yesterday, at McDonalds, I met Tim, who was finishing up a two-week bicycle trip, so we headed out together. After a hundred miles we arrived at a State Park just outside of Syracuse. The park was already full, so we went down to the Erie Canal and found a place to put up our tents. We bought a six-pack of beer, and sat by the canal drinking in the history of the place. It was a good day. Tim said, “It’s my best.”

In the morning, after I said goodbye to Tim, I headed into the city. It was kind of neat. Syracuse was built around its featured attraction–horseracing. After I picked up my money, however, I didn’t stick around, except to buy a pair of corduroy pants at the Salvation Army thrift store. My blue jeans were showing a lot of wear. They went into the Salvation Army wastebasket.

There are two notes of interest I need to get down on paper. The one leads into the other, I think. Just before the rain started to fall, as I was pedaling into Auburn, a truck pulled into a parking lot and a guy jumped out and came running after me yelling, “Biker! Biker!” I wasn’t sure what to do, and then I saw this huge peach in his hand. While still running he stuck the peach in my outstretched hand. It all took place in the matter of seconds. I only managed to get the words thank you out, as the runner fell back. Passing me in his truck, he waved and honked his horn. New York State is, in addition to being beautiful, is full of surprises!

The other note of interest concerns this sensation that I am presently experiencing. I respect the Earth, so when people sometimes ask me what its like to camp in undesignated areas, I reply, “I respect the Earth.” That reply pretty much sums up my attitude on bicycle camping, and that attitude, over time, has turned into a very pleasant sensation. The Earth is my home, and it feels really, really, great!

Its Been Years Since I Gobbled Down Pills Or Smoked Anything More Potent Than Campfire Smoke

January 17, 2009
red bike riverred bike river


In Another Pine Forest

Aug. 8, ‘82

Yesterday was good. Rain slowed me down in the afternoon, but not too much. Maine is a beautiful state; I expected it to be so, but it’s extra nice to actually experience it that way. I have been traveling on secondary roads. Biking is always better that way, except on grades. The inclines tend to be a bit steeper.

Last night I passed a cottage on a lake, where the fellows were having a party, and I was called in for a beer. Under the late afternoon sun, I enjoyed their company. The boys or perhaps men (a couple of them had their children and wives with them) had been partying all day. One particular dude got uptight when I wouldn’t smoke the dope that he passed my way. I knew then it was time to leave. To set the record straight, it’s been years since I gobbled down pills or smoked anything more potent than campfire smoke. I bid my newfound friends adieu, and hit the road. A little while later, I took my cucumber and honey sandwiches across the highway from where I set up my camp, and watched the last of the red sun sink into the trees on the other side of the lake—nice!

I expect to make quite a few miles today. It’s already sunny and hot with every sign of turning hotter.

Aug. 9

I’m sitting in a breezeway of a house that is in need of repair. If nobody saw me bring my bike up behind the house I’m safe; otherwise, before I finish this writing the local militia will probably be here to put matters straight. This house is uninhabited and for sale.

Yesterday was hot and sunny — fantastic. Bicycling through Maine was like riding down the Redwood Highway in California, only with smaller trees. New Hampshire was beautiful also. It would have been nice to bicycle through the mountains– maybe next time; even these hills are not pushovers. Around 6 pm it clouded over. I was lucky, though, just before the rain, I managed a pretty good camp on quick notice. It was in another pine forest, but this one was on rocky terrain. It rained all night. In fact, it never quit raining. That’s why I’m sitting in this breezeway where I’m not supposed to be.

To make matters worse, I’m having problems getting money. My Prestige credit card is not working. Banks in this area won’t recognize it. I have $30 left and, if I am to get more money, my only alternative (or at least the most convenient one) is to head south to Albany, New York. I’m sure I can get money there, but unfortunately I will not be able to bicycle through the Adirondacks, which is what I really wanted to do.

It’s raining again, and it’s nice to be inside. It looks like I’ll be safe. All I need now is a shower and some clean clothes, perhaps tomorrow.

When He Finished His Tantrum He Told Me To Pack Up and Get Out

January 10, 2009
harbor boats

Forty-Five Dollars Was Not Going To Get Me Home

In A Pine Forest

August 5, ‘82

When it came time to go our separate ways, the goodbyes were short, uncomfortably short. Michelle did make a point of getting my address, and after that she left, and I went back into the artisans’ gallery to enjoy the artwork. In the kitchen, my friend the artist treated me to a cup of tea, which I enjoyed in the company of his wife and friends. The place was contagious with friendliness and that made it easy for me to look to the future. All things considered, when it was time to head out, I was in a pretty good mood.

I stopped at Fort Ann, and, as I walked around the grounds, I enjoyed its history. The sun was actually hot–not sweaty hot, just hot. Sometimes sweaty hot is good; when I get back in the states, I expect it to be sweaty hot. The road out of town was hilly, but not bad, and after a good day of bicycling, I stopped at Smugglers Cove picnic area to eat dinner. While there, I noticed a ravine. There was even a picnic table at the bottom. I could not let that uninhabited spot go uninhabited. Hidden from the road, and open to the night sky, it was a wonderful campsite. However, in the morning I found myself covered in a thick, wet fog.

Three hours after breaking camp I reached Yarmouth. It was still early, and I needed a shower, so I asked the lady at a campground if I could buy one. “Go ahead,” she said, “no charge.” She was a very friendly lady. In Yarmouth, it was still foggy, but not as bad. This part of Nova Scotia was the same area where I bicycled in the pouring rain the last time I was here. After experiencing this trip’s good weather, I’m wondering if it might be that the south shore has all the bad weather. On the radio, the weatherman just said more of the same, which meant at least another day or two of rain and fog. But where I came from the sun was shining.

As I write, I’m on a ferry heading down to Bar Harbor, Maine. My 415 American dollars, which turned into 539 Canadian dollars, is now down to $12 American. All tolled that gives me $45 to get home on. I will need to send for money shortly. Meanwhile, I am going to enjoy this boat ride. I’m now 2 cups of coffee and one beer into it. It’s still foggy, though, and my future doesn’t look so good. I will arrive in Bar Harbor late at night, probably in the fog and rain, with no place to go. Oh well, I’m having fun anyway.

To finish out this page, I would like to comment on the boat’s departure from the Yarmouth harbor. We headed down a narrow channel at low tide. As we passed by numerous fishing boats in their slips, the shoreline was only a stone’s throw on either side of the boat. It was a very picturesque sight, especially with the fog banks at various densities all along the shore. As the channel widened we passed a lighthouse. Its beams had little or no effect, but its bellowing foghorn cut a deeper path. Even as I write, I am reminded that I am in a boat blundering through the sea without eyes. I can’t forget, either, because the ship has its foghorn too.

Aug. 7

Sitting in McDonalds in Augusta, Maine.

Yesterday was exceptional biking, but it didn’t start out that way. I arrived in Bar Harbor around 11 pm and after U.S. Customs got through with me — real assholes– it was after midnight before I found a place to put up my tent. All the campgrounds were full, but I wouldn’t have stayed in one anyway. Walking through a residential section of Bar Harbor in the wet night air, I stumbled upon a tennis court. Its perimeter was covered with thick vegetation, so that’s where I decided to erect my tent, in between the bushes and the fence.

It was 6 am and I was breaking down my tent when this big Chrysler pulls up and out jumps this guy breathing fire. He kept asking me what I was doing on private property, and I just kept repeating that it was the only place to camp. I wanted to tell him, however, that private property is private only under daylight conditions. In the darkness, private property reverts back to public domain. When he finally finished his tantrum, he told me to pack up and get out. I thanked him because I was only too happy to oblige; from that point onward it just got better.

When the fog lifted, and the sun came out, things started looking up, but it didn’t get good until after another twenty miles. The highway leading out of Bar Harbor was in terrible shape, after that the scenery went from nice, to super beautiful. For a while I was riding along the coast, and then when I turned inland I had a super nice shoulder to ride on. I chose to rid
e through the less hilly part of
Maine. So far the hills have not been pushovers, but they are negotiable. Today will be a little hotter then yesterday—no problem.

Last night, after logging about 95 miles during the day, I camped off the highway in a beautiful pine forest. Today, if I’m lucky, I hope to get very close to or even into New Hampshire, but I must admit, yesterday was really hard on my butt. It won’t be very comfortable riding today. However, I find it thrilling to be able to ride without the constant stopping that has marked my last couple of weeks.

The Snake Represents Creation And Free Will

January 3, 2009
mish table

God Is Light And Evil Is Light Dimmed-So With Free Will Comes A Higher State Of Consciousness-And Evil

Kabbalah Conversation Concluded

“You might have to refresh my memory,” I said. “Aside from Adam’s rib—Eve, and sinfully eating the apple, I don’t remember much about the creation story.”

“No problem,” Michelle replied. “The Genesis story had Adam and Eve being the first humans, and Adam was more or less seduced by Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. But Eve wasn’t totally to blame because the wily serpent told her to do it. She was told that she and Adam would win the knowledge of good and evil upon eating the fruit, and become like gods. Some say the snake was actually Satan in disguise, and, as far as Eve was concerned, the snake probably was the devil because women have lived in hell ever since, but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, according to plan, she ate from the tree of knowledge and then got Adam to do the same. Because they actively disobeyed God, both were thrown out of paradise, and so began the dismal history of human suffering. However, the Kabbalah tells a different story.”

“Don’t tell me, I bet the characters are the same,” I said, “but they mean something different.”

“How did you know?” replied Michelle.

“It just makes sense,” I said. “The Bible is more than a history book. It’s too important for that, but I don’t think anybody knows its real meaning.”

“Now you sound like Robert,” Michelle responded. “According to Kabbalah, the creation story is not about Adam and Eve; it’s about the creation of the image of God—the birth of free will. Adam and Eve represent the principal of duality—the principle of opposing opposites, while the serpent represents the principle of division. In the Bible, the Garden of Eden is described as a true paradise. Before the apple was eaten, there were no negatives, no separation, and no sense of identity. Everything was different from the way that we see things now. Adam and Eve did not know they were naked. They did not know right from wrong. They did not know suffering. Then, with the apple, they were offered a sense of separateness, identity, and individuality. Not eating the forbidden fruit meant living in a perfect, preconditioned world, but one without depth and the potential for creativity. The ‘gift’ of discriminating thought, however, brought with it ‘free will’ and punishment. Confronting and disobeying God is where freewill and creativity began, as well as the vital, but imperfect, world of the human being.”

“So the serpent represents creation and free will?” I replied.

“According to this interpretation, yes,” responded Michelle. “I found this story shocking. After all, how often does the devil get redeemed in a religion? Martin says that without the energizing of creation, without the serpent, we would never have an opportunity to know God. We would never have an opportunity to walk the path that, ultimately, takes us straight into the heart of a loving, compassionate God—our Divine source.”

“That sure is an interesting take on the creation story,” I replied. “But what about evil; is it just an outcome of free will?”

“I don’t think anybody, or any religion for that matter, has a good answer for that one,” Michelle said, “but, according to Martin, free will births the potential for a new awareness, one that mirrors the divine in all of us, and evil is related to that awareness. God is light, and evil is that light dimmed. Evil represents the darkening shadows that hide and distort light. In other words, God is veiled and those veils, depending on context, are perceived as good or evil. Evil is here to stay; that is the down side. The up side is that light illuminates darkness, illuminates the path that takes us to the source of all light.”

“So, with free will comes a higher state of consciousness—and evil,” I said. “Is that what I’m hearing?”

“That’s what Martin would say,” replied Michelle. “In the creation story, God cursed the serpent, but Martin says that the meaning of that curse is the subject of great debate. The words head and heel are code words in the Kabbalah. They signify the different epochs unfolding in the process of creation. The head represents the earliest part of an era, while the heel represents the end of an era. According to Martin, God’s curse represents the changing of eras. The serpent biting its own heel indicates a future era wherein messianic consciousness arises. Rather than a cursed serpent, according to that interpretation, the serpent represents the coming of a new ‘God consciousness,’ whatever that means. Apparently, at the very least, the serpent represents more than just an ‘evil thing!”

“You can say that again,” I replied.