Contemplating the Dark and Light
I let them drive past. Then I’m left to solitude and contemplating the dark road ahead.
High above, a steady distance separates a line of planes. They head west as I travel east. Their forward lights provide a trail of starry, shiny crumbs guiding me home.
But I should keep my eyes on the road, where the stripes and markers glow in my headlights, ensuring I don’t stray from the path. Barely beyond headlight reach, the grass and brush come and go in my peripheral vision. Their constancy broken only by the occasional side road down which I occasionally peer. But no lights wink back at me.
Like Frost in his woods, I’m alone on the road – even though other cars come up from behind and then pass around. Some stay behind me for a few miles, as if unaware they’ve slowed to my speed. What’s going through their minds at that point? Are they busy talking – being lucky in having companions to enliven the trip?
I have nobody in the passenger seat. But I don’t need a companion. I have my thoughts and tunes. My pen and paper. To think, consider, observe, and comment. Just me, the steering wheel, the road illuminated immediately ahead, and the dark surround.
Destination home but no deadline for arrival.
I have all night and half the following day to get there. What paths could I take that would so delay my return? Would anyone notice if I didn’t arrive until noon? What tale could I relate to the cats to explain my late arrival? The kitten would be impatient. Angel would be forebearing.
I’ve taken this route so many times – in all weather, days and times of the year. It’s too familiar. Nothing new to see.
And the dark hides all anyway. Clouds obsure the stars and moon. But to the west, they reflect the glow of lights toward Weimar/Schulenburg. And much further west, brighter sky marks the end of the cloudline where the sun set. But the view east is dark, pockmarked by the lights of small communities along I-10.
As I merge with the interstate traffic, the hustle breaches my solitude, interrupts my contemplation. Too much light. Too many cars. I can’t smoothly flow with the stripes and markers. I must concentrate. Navigate. Negotiate. Acccelerate.
I want to go back to allowing others to push past me. I can’t get caught by the gang of cars behind. It was okay when just a few cars passed me on the other highway. I stayed in my little pocket of solitude, inured to their speed. But this interstate and these larger packs of cars will catch me if I don’t push forward. I’ll be stifled, captured, trapped by the traffic. I’ll become lost in the group. So I accelerate. But then I get too close to the cars ahead. I continue to adjust my speed in the hope of not being caught by too many from behind while not catching those ahead.
If I could just find that one small gap between packs.
I don’t want to be at the back of the group in front where I’m at the mercy of the pack’s ever-changing speeds. Nor do I want to lead the pack behind. Rather, I want to enjoy my solitary place between – neither leading nor following. Neither caught in the group and forced to constantly adjust to their unpredictable behavior nor always keeping a step ahead of those behind so they don’t swallow me whole.
I want my quiet space.
I want to savor the rare moment when I’m not impatient to be somewhere or to be ahead of everyone else. To enjoy not being stuck amidst mediocrity or conforming to the pack’s choices.
Is this why there always seem to be one, two, a few cars not going with the flow – those cars that always jam everyone else as the pack struggles to pass their slower pace? Are those drivers also contemplating the road? Are they thinking about their headlights and the dark beyond?
Or are they just crazy?