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Blue Highways

"Sitting full in the moment, I practiced the god-awful difficulty of just paying attention. It's a contention of Heat Moon's---believing as he does any traveler who misses the journey misses about all he's going to get--that a man becomes his attentions. His observations and curiosity, they make and remake him.

Etymology: curious, related to cure, once meant 'carefully observant.'"

-William Least Heat Moon in Blue Highways

For some reason I expected Blue Highways to be light reading, but I was wonderfully wrong. This is some dense food for thought, but much more palpable than Zen and the Art.

I don't believe that the journey is all there is. There is much to be said about paying attention to the journey, and I need to work on that for sure, but there is also a destination. I believe in a Destination ---a Destination that is also the beginning of another journey, a glorious journey.

But for now, we sojourn. I suspect my attentions--- the things I have paid the most attention to in my life---have created in me a kind of visual impairment of the mind and soul. I have, for the greater part, paid copious amounts of attention to the road kill on the journey of life and have allowed these "road kill" observations to "make and remake me" over and over until thick layers of cataracts have formed on my mind-soul, cataracts which cast torturous shadows on the world and torturous suppositions about such a world's maker.

I have to suspect that something is true about me when different lovers from different periods in my life have made the same observation about me: you only remember the bad times, you never remember the good.

This is a problem, and I've known it's a problem for quite some time. I do make attempts almost daily to rectify this. Sometimes these attempts are even grand. I need to force myself to see the good. It's there. I know, it's there. I need sit and breathe and observe it floating there, realize I'm breathing it in and expelling this very goodness I am searching for. I need to capture this goodness and trap in art and words. Trap it in the amber of the moment as Vonnegut would say.

Recent circumstances have led me to cancel our satellite TV. No doubt this will result in much less exposure to that warped phenomena of televised media that feeds on and regurgitates negativity and conflict, even going as far as to create it when there is none.

I suspect grace attracts grace, fear attracts fear, negativity attracts negativity, etc. I think a lot about God and the meaning of suffering. I had a thought on the way to work the other day: what if Christ was like a packet of yeast folded into the dough of human history? What if we are rising so slowly we don't even perceive it? What if we are rising so slowly, and our perspective is so limited that it looks like the yeast itself has caused us to fall?

9/11/11
I was talking to my folks on the phone today and I told them I had put Blue Highways down for a bit because I was afraid it would make me want to take a long, wandering road trip and I can't follow that desire at this point in my life as I once did in my 20's. But then I realized that it's not that Willam Least-Heat Moon is writing about traveling, it's that he's paying attention to everything that is going on around him. My dad enthusiastically agreed. My mom said Pilgrim at Tinker Creek was similar in how Dillard, pays attention.

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