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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

THE VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAIN

              barnett newman

It's October 31. At 9:30pm I mark 36 years in the mountains. Driving up the Parkway from highway 21 into fog thicker and thicker until about the last five or six miles were in dense fog we call "peasoup." It required hanging head out the side window watching the double yellow line beside the front tire. Ahead was a white wall I drove through. Headlights made it even more opaque, opaque by light. I drove up the mountain watching the lines beside the tire, the only spot where I could see the road. The light reflecting from the fog lit the spot beside the wheel, and behind the wheel it was blackness of night. Up the winding mountain highway I traveled at about 5mph. Passing the overlooks and places where roads came into the Parkway was frightening; the double yellow line stopped for a space of 20 to 30 feet. I had no guarantee I'd connect with the yellow lines at the other end of that space. I might drive into the rock wall, or in my mind that had no understanding of driving in the mountains I might drive off the side of the mountain down a cliff and explode at the bottom like in movies. About the time uncertainty crept into my mind whether the double yellow lines would appear again, it wasn't long before I found them.

Of an English major mind, I drove through the fog dwelling on the symbolism of passing through a stretch of dense mountain peasoup to my new life, shrouded in the unknown, focused on the immediate present, tire beside the double lines. It seemed appropriate that my new life in the unknown would begin with a cloud to drive through, a tunnel from my life past to my life future. I didn't look at it as a good sign or a bad sign, rather a flow through what was literally a tunnel of light, ascending the mountain, Air Bellows Mountain, elevation 3,700ft. Even after the Parkway, driving down Air Bellows Gap Road, unpaved, I watched the ditch beside the tire on the left side. The right side of the road went almost straight down and did not have a rock wall like on the Parkway. I saw in my mind the truck rolling down the side of the mountain, bouncing from tree to tree like a pinball: tilt. Didn't want to do that, so I kept the left front tire at the edge of the gravel where I could more or less see the edge of the road. Turned down the paved driveway to the house, maybe a tenth of a mile. By the time I parked the pickup, I felt like I'd crossed a three hundred mile bridge from one continent to another.

Driving out of Charleston on I-26 I watched the city I loved in the rearview mirror become rooftops, then a few church steeples, then nothing but sky above the rising wall of highway that washed over the city like a rogue tsunami. The first half of the drive up the interstate, a review of where I was coming from floated in my mind. I looked at the urban life I was driving away from, all my associations in the city, my friends I'll stay in touch with the rest of my life, my friends I won't stay in touch with, cocktail parties, the college, and my reasons for wanting, even needing to go somewhere else. It wasn't that I rejected the city or the city rejected me, but that I wanted to work outdoors with a labor job for a period of at least five years in a rural way of living, looking for a chance at solitude, though not in the absolute form. My inner compass had made a 180 degree turn a year before, when I found to my skeptical satisfaction that God indeed Is. Just getting it changes everything. Once I see it, I cannot go on like I did before I saw it, in every way. It is a change at the core. It changes attitude toward life. I needed a place to go to, to process the transition from who I am, living with ego for my guide, to who I am, guided by the Master, the one who knows the Way.

Thirty-six years ago, I had no idea of the world my parachute landed me in. It seemed at the time like it had the potential to be a major error. There were plenty of times in the first couple years I seriously questioned if I'd done something really stupid this time, even more stupid than the big one before, or  the series of stupid ones around it, leading me to the understanding that I don't know how to make a good decision for myself. Let go and let God. That one works pretty good. Since I have problems with making intelligent decisions for myself, allowing God's guiding light to help really does make a difference. What I thought I came to the mountains for I imagined would take about five years. It ended up taking twenty. That was to get myself to a fairly balanced outlook, at least more balanced than before, which was out of balance. Internal changes take longer than I'd like to imagine. Like social changes, they take awhile.

Thirty-six years into the unknown, the decision to move to the mountains was one of the better decisions of my life. I can see it in retrospect as the natural next thing. It's been a very interesting trip though I've stayed in one spot the whole time. I love about it the people I have known and the inner realizations along the way. My dogs and cats have been my teachers. People I've known have been my teachers. I've learned from books, from everyday life and from music. I've seen the Reagan Revolution undermine American democracy unto nullification, making our government by the corporations, of the corporations and for the corporations, with an anti-democracy supreme court. This progression began in 1963 with a corporate coup. Seeing our democracy slip away and the Constitution replaced by the police state document, the Patriot Act, has been a great sorrow to one who valued our democracy. It's history now. We'll have to wait until after a revolution and/or a civil war, a total economic collapse, the breakdown of American society, full involvement in Israel's aggression on Iran, after which reconstruction can begin in a whole new light. From my mountain I have seen the end of Democracy in America. Next: The decline and fall of the American Empire. Better to see it from a mountain than from a city.


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