Reflection on Carmel Point, by Robinson Jeffers

Carmel Point, Robinson Jeffers

The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses-
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads-
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.-As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

I am on a flight from one coast to the other. In spite of myself, I can’t stop looking up at one of the sixteen screens that hang above the seats on either side of the aisle. There’s no sound, but my eyes are drawn up by the moving images. The screens are all showing the same TV show, which I’ve never seen or heard of; I stare at it for a minute before I realize what I’m doing. A minute lost. I don’t have all time. I have only this minute, and if I fear losing it, or regret that I lost the last one, then I am not in it. In this minute I am in the center of a plane, surrounded by crying babies and soda-swilling compatriots, catered to by flight attendants, swiftly propelled across the country. Taking advantage of modern convenience. Something Jeffers may have scorned me for.

Without that convenience, though, I would not have spent the last week with my family, in California. So it is not all bad. But it is definitely not all good. If I do what is convenient all the time, what is easiest, I am not truly living. I’m moving on autopilot.

In the Jeffers poem, the first twelve lines describe the landscape, what is sometimes called the more-than-human world. Only the last three tell what Jeffers believes we, as humans, must do: uncenter our minds from ourselves, unhumanize our views, become confident as the rock and ocean. Convenience does not breed confidence. Neither does being catered to. What will breed confidence?

Jeffers single-handedly built a stone tower, what he named Hawk Tower, at his stone house on Carmel Point. It took him four years. He constructed a ramp and would roll rocks up from the beach to the cliff top where he and his wife lived. His wife loved towers, so Jeffers made her this one as an act of love. In building the tower he must have found strength and confidence. He was not hoping to construct something that would last forever, to be marveled at by coming generations. He had faith that one day the sea would cover it. But the tower stands today, one hundred years after it was built, and may stand for many more hundreds of years. Two days ago I visited the house where Jeffers lived, Tor House, and climbed the tower, looked out over the same stretch of sea, the same rocks and the same cliffs, that Jeffers did.

view from Hawk Tower

View from Hawk Tower

Become confident as the rock: what better way to find this confidence than by working with rocks, suffering physical hardship by bearing their weight, cementing them in place and bringing them together to form something wonderful in its austere yet elevated beauty? Each stone in the tower exists as itself and is also part of a greater something that stands as a marriage of the still and eternally patient strength of the inhuman with the creative strength of human vision. Only by imitating the extraordinary patience of the rocks could Jeffers build the tower of rocks. Jeffers would look out from Hawk Tower over the sea at night as the waves crashed against the black rocks off shore. What did he contemplate in those nights? Was his mind as empty as the clear California night sky? Or was some of his energy dissipated in resisting the human sea of houses being built behind him, beginning to suffocate his once-remote Carmel Point?

Tor House

Tor House and Hawk Tower, image from:

It knows the people are a tide / That swells and in time will ebb, and all / Their works dissolve. Including the works of Robinson Jeffers, of course. Did he care? Who knows? Whether he cared or not was his own concern.

My concern right now is the crying baby on this plane. If it does not stop, I may go insane, and though I don’t hold on to my sanity too tightly, since it hangs by a thread most of the time anyways, I don’t really care to go insane when I’m trapped on a plane. Why does the crying baby bother me so much? For one thing, it’s loud. It makes it hard to concentrate. It brings me abruptly to the surface, jarring me out of whatever thought or feeling I was having. But is that such a bad thing? The crying baby is what is happening right now, and my reaction to it can, if I let it, if I become aware of it without resistance, teach me something about myself.

But if I try to listen to it without resistance, in the hope that it will teach me something about myself, I will learn only that I am still ignorant. I cannot try not to resist. I resist instinctively. Something in me hardens, as if protecting myself against the sound. It is not a reaction I have much control over. I can’t not do it. But what does any of this have to do with Jeffers and Carmel Point and turning to the rocks and sea to learn how to live?

Somehow I must turn and love even the crying baby, the thousands of people in the airport, the insanity of going through security, the tremendous speed of the thing, as if everyone involved is embarrassed at the fact that our trust for each other has diminished to the point that we are forced to implement these measures. It may be that I cannot love what is in front of me unless I look away from it, look out the window to the deserts of the Southwest, the book Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey in my lap, on my way across the country to what Abbey called the ‘Siberian East. Look away towards that freer world rather than let my eyes be drawn without my soul’s consent towards the screen at the same time my ears are unable to drown out the baby’s cries. But no, I cannot look away or close my ears. I have an obligation to look everything in the eye, whether it repulses me or attracts me or awes me. I must be able to walk through the rough seas of the airport and experience the same inward love, which has all time, as I experience when I look out from Hawk Tower over Carmel Point, at the sea that has all time.

I don’t know how to do this. I hate loud noises; I hate crowds; and I hate the hardhearted attempt to strip me of my individuality and treat me like one of the crowd. Must I love what I now hate?

We must uncenter our minds from ourselves. What I need cannot come from my own action. If I try to get what I think I need, my action will be centered on myself, and I will not get what I need. I need a deeper center. But I don’t even really know what I need. I don’t know if I must love, or if I’m only saying this because I heard it somewhere. I cannot make myself love, so to say I must love is to doom myself to despair when I fail, as I must. And yet I must love, and so I must fail.

We must unhumanize our views a little. Instead of focusing on myself, looking always at how I can improve or change or accept or resist or become or be myself, I’d be wiser to let my eyes travel beyond the small concerns of a self convinced it is separate, to take in a wider view of the larger world: unbroken field, clean cliffs, endless ocean. Perhaps in contemplating the unity of that world, I will find that I have always been a part of the unity, that I have never been separate. If the world has all time, and what I truly am is not separate from the world, don’t I too have all time? But thinking is not believing. I might think it could possibly be true that I am not separate from what has all time, but I will never be convinced of this unity, and thus believe without a doubt that I too have all time, so long as I’m striving to fill what time I do have with petty concerns and desires—the desire to achieve and be admired, the desire to be comfortable and secure, the desire to take risks and so alleviate boredom and dullness, the desire to be discovered, the desire to find a soul mate, the desire to be alone, and all the other desires that seem so significant and real until my views expand a bit, and I see what else is here. Thank Heaven, writes Thoreau, here is not all the world.

Thank Earth, thank rock and sea and space, not all the world is fit for human habitation. Let me not become so habituated to human habitations that I forget what I was made from, which is intimately linked with what I was made for. As the rock and ocean that we were made from. I was not made to forget what made me, but to return to it. I was not made to live so enmeshed with the human world, so enslaved by my own human habits, that I forget to look up and see the unending beauty of the unspeaking world, and remember that it has no need to be seen and no need of me to see it. And yet I see it, and how will I receive the gift of this seeing?

Will I let myself be humbled? Will I look at the rocks against which the sea crashes, and let my heart be softened? I can only let the softening happen or resist it and impede it from happening. The river, though powerful, does not force its way to the sea. It flows on its natural course. We dam it, of course, as if that will help, and then we water-ski on the surface of the dead, defaced lake we have made, moving all together only in clockwise direction around and around, circling our falsity. We ski on the surface of the fake lake we have made, not seeing the violence we have done to the river that is still living despite our attempts to dam it from Life. We have only dammed ourselves, impeded our own growth, prevented ourselves from softening, and made a true life, one of constant renewal like the water in the river, impossible.

Well, damn.

lake powell

Glen Canyon Dam, photo from: Atlantic

There is no hope in a dam; the water from it will not last forever. It does not have all time. It ends in death and so its very existence breeds hopelessness and despair. When the river is not dammed, when its flow is not impeded, there is no need to hope that it will reach the sea. It will go where it is meant to go. I pray to uncenter my mind from myself, from my view of where I should be going. Let me climb into a canoe and be carried by the current, taking in the view of both banks, seeing at all times what is before me. Let the river teach me where I am meant to go, and let it, at its own pace that has all time, take me there.


Colorado River through Grand Canyon

Separation from Hope; Refusal to Confide; Hunchbacks in Chains; The Mirrored Room Without Darkness; The Voice of Unreason; Be Still, and Know; Scheduled Weeping; Drizzling Doubt; The ‘I’ Afraid to Die

I resolved after my separation from Hope to stand at the window like a fire lookout and never to turn my back on the east. I wished to follow my own destiny the way a widow follows the arc of the sun over the course of a June morning. But it was winter; the days were short, and the sun was hidden.

I decided instead to hide, and I refused to confide to the beloved the contents of my discontented heart. It was not a wise decision, not a decision unanimously agreed upon by the internal jury. It was a split decision, an incision, if you will, that took me from the center, made a hole where there was once a spacious wholeness. What was simple became complex and convoluted, and I struggled with the words needed to greet people. I knew that most people greeted others with, ‘Hello, how are you?’ I also knew I could not do the same. It was not in my power to greet others in such a way, so I gritted my teeth and pretended I was deaf when my soul-sister asked how I’d ever bridge the chasm that separated my ignorance from her magnificence.

Once I removed myself from those who assured me the chains attached to their heels were benign, I wondered what to do. It was so much easier when I had a task, however deplorable. What could I do now that I had been commanded to be free? I asked a hunchback wearing a crown who was dragging his chains up a steep hill whether he wanted any help. He looked at me with the kind of vicious glance a king gives an escaped slave who, after being recaptured and hauled back to the castle through the mud, spits at the feet of the queen. After my offer of help was denied, I spat at my own feet, resolving to never again offer my assistance to a hunchback.

However, what I had been handed by those who had overcome their own uselessness, and were no longer hunchbacked, demanded a response. I recognized the paradox of futile effort met with unanswerable grace, yet I could not stop searching for the mirrored room without darkness, where through the blur of tears I hoped to witness the self stripped of what it wasn’t, but my weeping obscured the clarity of the possible. I heard a paralyzed voice, stuck in a dreamland of judgment, shout down that my words only added to the general absurdity. I claimed the paralyzed voice as my own and shrunk into a den where a lion was devouring its’ own tail.

Do not forget to tell them about the dance, whispered the voice of unreason, a voice I noticed rang clear and true and without distrust. Yes, of course, the dance. But how could I tell them? I would never be able to tell anyone about the dance. I could only show them. Everything that came to me from the voice of unreason told them about the dance, without my having to tell them anything.

Hold me, my invisible master turned mistress, as my trespasses hold me captive, as my addiction to silence produces its’ noisy hangover. I came to you to be held, and you did your job well, but I was not satisfied. I moaned to be held more tightly, and you told me to be silent. I did as I was told and was silent, and you told me to speak, to let everything out, withholding nothing. Nothing was all I could hold in and all I found when I looked in or out. To be without nothing was the only way to be, and my violent feeling that I existed without something essential made me question whether I really existed at all. If I was certain of anything, it was that I lacked everything. I especially lacked certainty. I did not know what I lacked. If I had known it, would I have lacked it? “Be still, and know…”

I knew enough to trust that my lying and cheating business partners would get me through the rough stretches I scheduled out on the calendar, the coming weeks in which I had allocated plenty of time to suffer from inexplicable grief. I boxed out certain hours of the day to be overcome by the urge to weep, and this I did during the prescribed periods, which came in the hour before bed and the hour after waking. During the rest of the time, I feigned an exaggerated grin, which was trusted by all but one. Because of this one’s flawless perception of my incongruous state, I trusted she was the one, and without flaws, both conclusions as false as her intuitions were true.

Be still, and know that I am not. Not all-knowing. Not always forward-moving. And not ever still. And still not—what? At ease? At one? At home? At odds with the one who is, I fizzled out in the drizzling doubt that veiled from me your kingdom. Not my kingdom. I am the veil; unveil me. Let me see my own face. I am the seeker, but how can I reach you if I remain at odds? This is no game, and there is no one to blame. Not even the one who is never still. This is no game, but that doesn’t mean there is no room to play. I play at writing, and I pray when writing. To truly play is to pray, but who of us here can play in that way?

For eleven months I have not taken a drink, he said proudly and with a strange trace of foreboding mixed with a lethal dose of malice. He heard a voice question him, ‘who has not taken a drink?’ Perplexed at this line of questioning, he said again: ‘I.’ He heard, “The ‘I’ that is afraid to die—that is the ‘I’ that has not taken a drink.” Why yes, he replied, of course. He heard nothing further.

That is Enough

Isn’t it strange to see the sun full on? I always feel better seeing it through a tree or trees or seeing it in the reflection of a lake. I do not deserve to see it full on, up in the sky, not reflecting or shining through anything. It is too much, too great, too full of passion and life. Only the great may see it full on. It suits them and to all others it is too much. And what if it is shining above the ocean? The ocean and the sun! To see God and then to see another no less Godlike! The brave man stares directly into the deep, directly up into the glory, with nothing to protect his eyes. Ah, but who am I? I am not a brave man, so I look at the sun through the branches, with sunglasses to protect my eyes, and that is enough.

On Writers

I have not met many writers, in the flesh. Which isn’t surprising, I don’t think. I am not one of those who writes who likes to be around others who write. I avoid like the plague all writing workshops, poetry readings, bohemian gatherings, and the like. Writing, like all the arts, is a solitary profession. Any place where writers are gathered together is a place not of art, but of community. The term ‘artist community’ or ‘artist commune’ is paradoxical. The only community of artists is the unspoken one of solitary people at their craft. There are no greater companions I know of than the words in the books strewn about the 300 square foot room in which I live.

The writer, for better or worse, “puts the best of himself, not the whole, into the work; the author as seen in the pages of his own book is largely a fictional creation.” So writes Edward Abbey in the introduction to his book Abbey’s Road: Take The Other. Some would say the writer hides behind his words, but that is not quite true. He reveals himself through his words, but when not writing he tends to hide. Or, he needs to be reclusive in order to be reflective, has a need to be invisible in interactions so that he can reveal himself through what he writes. Abbey says it well, continuing,

The ‘Edward Abbey’ of my own books, for example, bears only the dimmest resemblance to the shy, timid, reclusive, rather dapper little gentleman who, always correctly attired for his labors in coat and tie and starched detachable cuffs, sits down each night for precisely four hours to type out the further adventures of that arrogant blustering macho fraud who counterfeits his name. You can bet on it: No writer is ever willing—even if able—to portray himself as seen by others or as he really is. Writers are shameless liars. In fact, we pride ourselves on the subtlety and grandeur of our lies.

Who is the writer, really? The words he writes seem so different from the way he acts. HIs words may be full of life, but when you meet the author of the words he could be reserved, not all there, as if he is hiding for you, from himself, from life. You may feel in his presence a lack of presence, an absence, a wish not to be seen, to remain invisible. Abbey links the phrases, “as seen by others” and “as he really is.” But these phrases do not necessarily correspond with each other. Others do not often see us as we really are, and this is especially true for the writer, who others likely see as something of a ghost, for the impression he leaves on others is so nebulous or non-existent. At times the writer sees himself in this way, and at these moments his writing may act as a way to counteract this ghostliness, to write himself out of himself and into life, in these moments when life and the self are opposed.

But the writer must remember who he is and who he is not. He should remember not to take much account of how he is seen. Just because he is seen as a ghost does not mean he is a ghost or should see himself as one. The writer lives on a different plane, a plane that could well be closer to the ghostly. In any case, the writer seeks to express the timeless, the eternal, what has truth now, what has always had truth and always will. To do that, he cannot live completely in time; or, if he lives only in time, he does not live a complete life. It is important for any writer that the majority of his time actually be ‘his’ time, that he does not spend it seeing others and being seen. What happens on the plane of social interaction, especially superficial and thus draining interaction, has a tendency to feel unreal even when it is happening, and fade quickly thereafter. It fades from memory but leaves a definite, and definitely unwanted, mark on the soul. What happens alone, whether it brings pain or joy, does not fade, and never carries with it the same strong sense of unreality.

Are writers ‘shameless liars’? Abbey claims that writers lie about who they are now by putting their ‘best creation’ in their words. And there is some truth in that statement, as there is some truth in that lie. But is it a lie? The writer is not willing to portray himself as others see him for he knows that is not really who he is. But who he is—he does not know. It is not true that no writer is willing to portray himself as he really is. That is exactly how he would portray himself, if he could. Any other portrayal of himself is a betrayal of himself. He lies because he must. He wants above all not to portray himself in any unreal way, but rather to become himself, and express the self he is becoming, the self he really is, rather than the self he wants to be or wants to be seen. Until he knows who he is, though, every word is a lie he hopes will lead him to the truth.

But the writer, who expresses everything with such seeming clarity in words, can easily get twisted up in those words. The words start to add to what keeps him living under a lie rather than provide him with a way out of lying itself. Already confused about who he really is, he can become more so the more he writes. What begins as a lie because he does not know the truth becomes a known lie. He must keep the lie going, as he is afraid that he is going nowhere, or that he has already gone too far. Instead of writing to become himself, he writes to express a glorified self, one that takes away some of the pain of his isolation, which is where his solitude, now corrupted, has led him. The glorified self, he hopes, will take away the pain of his isolation by putting him above others; in actuality, by putting himself above others, the glorified self brings about his isolation, and alienates him from who he really is. Karen Horney, in Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle to Self-Realization, describes this process as self-idealization.

Self-idealization always entails a general self-glorification, and thereby gives the individual a much-needed feeling of significance and superiority over others. But it is by no means a blind self-aggrandizement. Each person builds up his personal idealized image from the materials of his own special experiences, his earlier fantasies, his particular needs, and also his given faculties.

The self-idealization of the writer, his glorified self, is much-needed to the extent that he feels himself unneeded, without value, unable to contribute anything of worth to the world. The extrinsic value of his work matters little when it comes face to face with his internal evaluator and critic, perhaps his glorified self, who finds all his writing lacking in some or all ways. His glorified self will be unique to him, as Horney makes clear, though it will share aspects with other writers.

As a writer with a solitary vocation, and now with the glorified self, the one he looks up to who looks down on him, he might express a need to be left alone, a wish for a room of his own, the time and space necessary in order to create. All of which are real and actual needs. But he no longer wishes or needs to create works of art that express himself as he is; the need now is to create himself, to become the work of art, the glorified self, who is a great artist, a genius. Becoming the artist has become more important than producing the art. Others should look up to his glorified self as much as he looks up to it. Give it their glory. Yet when he is praised for the work he does actually do, he will not accept the praise. Either the work wasn’t good enough, or it wasn’t really ‘he’ who did the work. What sometimes looks like humility—not accepting praise for some work that he did—is actually the pride of the glorified self for whom nothing done is ever good enough. Why should he accept praise for something he could have done better? Everything could always be done better, and will be done better. Must be done better.

The writer may also glorify his aloneness, and his ability to bear it. “The strongest men are the most alone.” He sees himself as stronger than the rest by the fact that he is able to bear greater aloneness, more intense suffering. But he bears only what he has brought upon himself. And it must be borne, for his solitary endeavor has become more of a prison than a freely chosen vocation. His aloneness must be borne so it can bring him glory, fame, and applause. He must spend time alone without glory now so he can be together with glory later. He will write until he achieves all that the self he glorifies deserves. The unreal self hopes for the unreal. The more he is driven by the idealized self to reach these dreamlike goals, the more he forgets what it means to be driven, how little freedom he possesses as he grows more possessed. To be driven is to have no choice. Someone else has hands on the wheel, and they’re heading the wrong way.

Regaining the capacity to drive now becomes important. Although being ‘driven’ is seen as a positive trait in a society where becoming the glorified self, and being seen, are the highest of goals, in actuality being driven drives you only to the ground. But it does not ground you, since you are driven to fly like Icarus. You get the opposite of what you seek, though to all extensive, external purposes it may look like you are flying. It is not you at all, but your glorified self, the self that exists only in your imagination, that flies away from who you actually are. The more you are driven, the more you become not-you. You out-grow yourself, as the distance between who you are and the self you imagine being grows too vast to imagine closing. Writing is no longer a way back to yourself; it is a way to chase after what drives you forward, but you are always too far behind. Instead of finding the way back, you lose the way completely. You are blindfolded with your hands tied in the back of the mack truck which, if you are not careful, will drive you to the very edge of the abyss, and over.


Part 2 of ‘On Writers’, and whatever else this essay has deteriorated into, will come at some unspecified time in the future. Await it in expectation. Or not.

On Writing

Writing is about learning to love, learning to live. Not a way to take you out of life, on the outskirts, writing only what you observe of life outside you. Writing means both observing the life outside you that you seek to take in and recording the life inside you seeking to be let out.

You overhear a conversation, someone talking on the phone. Much of what the person says is just chatter. In another mood, you might think it utterly trivial, senseless, without meaning. But this time you sense something else, below and beyond the words that are spoken, more to do with how they are spoken, and what is left unsaid. The voice does not know how to express the way it truly feels. It is cheerful in its chatter, yet you sense an unspeakable sadness just below each spoken word. You sense in the cadence of the voice what you feel within you. The voice stays light so as not to admit its heaviness; it stays bright so as not to let in a darkness that will engulf it from the inside. The voice is not meaningless; its meaning resides in what it does not say.

To write is to put down on paper what the voice cannot get out. Not to speak for the voice but to speak with your own in such a way that the other voice feels understood, is able to stand under your words as under a roof, temporarily protected from the elements, from the storm of the unspeakable, from the winter of the unsaid. The writer steps out into the winter storm that causes the other voice to retreat. If the one who writes does not perceive the full significance of the storm, why should he seek to bring shelter? He must be battered by the storm himself, feel without any shield the jagged blade of an arctic winter that severs him from all warmth, listen for the voice within him that must speak before the thunder closes in completely. If the writer does not feel the storm, does not feel the need to step out into it, if life to him is a vacation in the tropics, why should he write? Why should he do anything more than lie in the sun and congratulate himself on his good fortune?

I’ve heard people say writing is a talent, one to be grateful for. It is important to realize that writing is not simply a talent. Some people will have more talent, some less. But what matters is not how much or how little talent one has. What matters is how much one feels the necessity to step out into the storm to find the home that will bring true warmth and shelter. Finding this home can only come after you step out of what was your home into the homelessness of the unfamiliar night. You create your home with the uncreated material within you, what you come to find by stepping out into what must be walked through. And so you are walking through, just passing through, and the voice you hear on the phone is light and cheerful. You sense that it has not stepped out yet, that it has not experienced the homelessness that it must in order to come home, in order to create outside itself what already exists buried within.

I’ve heard people say writing is a hobby, like backgammon or ping-pong. Writing is no more a hobby than Search and Rescue is a hobby for those who perform that task. To write is to search for the soul, to rescue it from a world bent on submerging it, a subversive world which wants nothing but the absence of soul, which wants personalities based on acquisition and achievement. One who writes in order to achieve something in the field of literature would do well to step out into the night and search for the soul that is in danger of being submerged by the urge for prestige.

So writing is not a talent, not a hobby. Now to bring this essay back to what writing is. I started this piece by saying that writing is about learning to love and learning to live. To live, to be alive, is to love. You step into the storm when you realize that to love is no easy task, when you sense an absence of love everywhere you turn, when you turn in and sense an absence there, too, an emptiness where a fullness should be. You write not primarily to express that emptiness but to recover the fullness that has been lost, to unearth what has been buried in the climb up the mound where the highest point is also the emptiest point. In writing, the paper is the priest, the blank page your list of sins. To fill in the page is to be forgiven. To write of what you don’t know is to open yourself to what you can’t know. To write of your suffering is to open yourself to some power that might relieve it.

Love, Erich Fromm writes, “is possible only if two persons communicate with each other from the center of their existence.” In this quote, we find why love is the hardest task any human can undertake, and the most crucial. First, what is the center of one’s existence? Where is it, and how can one communicate from it? One answer to the last question is: through writing. The task of the writer is to dig deeper into the center and communicate what this search unveils. Communicating with another from the surface, from the outer edges of one’s existence, and calling that love, is a deceptive way to cover up the lack of any true communication taking place. Writing is equally deceptive if it does not come from the center where love and the soul reside. If the writing does come from the center, it is a way to love, a way to life, a path to becoming oneself. The poem that comes from the center of one’s existence is a declaration of love directed to no one in particular and so open to all individuals who are themselves open to their center.

How can you love, how can you communicate with another from the center of your existence, if you do not know where the center is? In writing, in searching for that center, you remove the superficial layers that separate you from your true self. The Catholic monk Thomas Merton writes, “The way to find the real world is not merely to measure and observe what is outside us, but to discover our own inner ground. For that is where the world is, first of all: in my deepest self.” This deepest self is the center of our existence, where each of us is most alive. Separation from the deepest self makes authentic communication impossible. Discovering the inner ground, and writing from it, allows each word we write to point to the wordless truths that cannot be written. “The deepest level of communication,” writes Merton, “is not communication, but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words. It is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity. We discover an older unity. My dear brothers, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”

Writing uses words in order to work towards the wordless, is a form of communication that comes from a deeper self in order to open the one who writes, and the one who reads, to the deepest self, the ‘original unity,’ the self who has no need to write. You write until you have no need to continue writing, until you have recovered the fullness that has been lost. But even when that fullness has been recovered, there is a still deeper spring, a deeper self that waits to be uncovered. You write until you have no need to continue writing, but continue anyways, not out of need or compulsion, but out of the joy of uncovering an ever-deepening self, of communicating in writing your discoveries of still deeper springs.

Bob Dylan as an Enneagram Four: Part 2

Three and a half months ago I wrote a post on Bob Dylan as an Enneagram type Four (Here’s that link). I said I was going to write a number of posts on this theme, but I ended up only doing the one. Now I have a few days in between my block class and the start of the semester, which I’ll use to go a bit deeper into the topic. If you don’t know about the Enneagram, you can start on my old post. The subject is so vast that I don’t feel nearly competent enough to introduce it fully and all at once, so I’ll be explaining it as I go along. I’ll also include the full names of books whenever I quote or reference a book, and those would be good references to check out from the library.

It would be easy to write a book on Dylan as a Four—the same way someone wrote a book on Thomas Merton, the Catholic monk, as a Four (Merton Enneagram book)—so it’s difficult to know where to start.

Let’s start with identity, a preoccupation of Dylan and of Four’s in general. “All I can do is be me—whoever that is,” said Dylan in an interview. This sentence just about sums up the Four stance. About Four’s, Don Riso in his book Personality Types writes, “Their sense of identity is not solid, dependable, in their own hands. They feel undefined and uncertain of themselves, as if they were a gathering cloud which may produce something of great power or merely dissipate in the next breeze” (1996, p. 139). There is a hint here of what creativity means to a Four, how inspiration cannot be nailed down, or called upon at will. In his biography on Dylan, Time Out of Mind, journalist Ian Bell writes how, for Dylan, “Sometimes songs just come…that kind of claim makes his gift sound like a fragile thing” (2014, p. 341). ‘A fragile thing,’ ‘a gathering cloud’ which may ‘merely dissipate.’

Dylan expresses this lack of definite identity in the first stanza of the song ‘Shelter From The Storm’ from his 1975 album, Blood on the Tracks

‘Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue, the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”

He also gives voice to this concept in interviews: “Sometimes you are held back by your name. Sometimes there are advantages to having a certain name. Names are labels so we can refer to one another. But deep inside us we don’t have a name. We have no name” (Essential Interviews, p. 206). We identify each other by name; if deep inside us we have no name, then deep inside us we also have no way to be identified, no identity.

Because the Four’s identity is ‘undefined’ and ‘not solid,’ because he is ‘a creature void of form,’ the Four begins a search for self, or for some place, some home where he can feel himself, where his formlessness will be given shelter, given time to form or allowed space to remain formless. The formlessness feels like the wilderness; the self a mystery, unknown. Dylan gives clearest expression to this search for self in his autobiography Chronicles when he writes, “There was a missing person inside of myself and I needed to find him” (147). And Nora Guthrie, the daughter of folk singer Woody Guthrie, who Dylan first came to New York on a quest to visit, said of Dylan, “I think he’s very much an experimentalist, looking into himself all the time, saying what do I want to do now…he’s experimenting with his own soul” (Ballad of Bob Dylan, p. 74).

Dylan’s quest to visit Woody Guthrie is a uniquely Four-ish endeavor. Richard Rohr writes in Discovering the Enneagram, “The life program of FOURs could be described as an eternal quest for the Holy Grail” (1990, p. 85). Dylan felt something in Guthrie’s music and sought the man himself, went on a quest to meet him. Guthrie’s music was Dylan’s ‘Holy Grail’ at that time in his life. Guthrie was sick, in a hospital, not famous or even known outside the folk music circle. Dylan also was not famous or known at that time in any circle. Yet Dylan would go and sit by his hospital bed, sing Guthrie’s own songs to him.

Many 4’s, including Dylan, express this ‘eternal quest’ in art:

In the creative moment, healthy Fours harness their emotions without getting lost in them, not only producing something beautiful but discovering who they are. In the moment of inspiration they are, paradoxically, both most themselves and most liberated from themselves. This is why all forms of creativity are so valued by Fours, and why, in its inspired state, creativity is so hard to sustain. Fours can be inspired only if they have first transcended themselves, something which is extremely threatening to their self-image. In a sense, then, only by learning not to look for themselves will they find themselves and renew themselves in the process. (Personality Types).

This is Riso again, who writes mainly about the Four’s search for self. I quoted Rohr above who said the Four is searching for the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail is not the ‘self,’ but Fours have an intuition that the Holy Grail could be found within themselves, yet they also find something when they are ‘liberated from themselves.’ As Riso makes clear, Fours feel most themselves when liberated from themselves. But this experience is transient, it doesn’t last, it keeps the Four on a continual quest to experience this liberation again. Permanent liberation, even if feasible, often doesn’t seem like a worthy goal. In Ballad of Bob Dylan, author Mark Epstein expresses this predicament well, writing of what may have been Dylan’s happiest time in the late 60’s, spent with his wife and children:

The problem with paradise on earth, as one might expect, is the day-to-day sameness. There is little variety in perfection and one might find it boring—particularly an artist who thrives on the tension between the real and the ideal, the knowledge of suffering and longing, his own and other people’s (214).

If the Four were in a state of permanent liberation, a ‘paradise on earth,’ what would there be to search for? Since the Four feels his identity is based on this ‘eternal quest,’ what would his identity be if the quest were completed, if liberation were lasting and unending? Yet Dylan sings in “Ain’t Talking”, “The suffering is unending.” Better the unending suffering of the quest or the unending liberation that may lie at the quest’s completion? Will the quest ever be complete? And is liberation ever without end? The quest is full of questions.

Thus, as the identity of Fours is based on being on the ‘eternal quest,’ Riso writes that self-transcendence is ‘extremely threatening’ to the Fours’ self-image.

In most of the songs Dylan writes, this quest—whatever it is for, whether the self or the Holy Grail or heaven—this seeking quality, is present. Let’s look again and a bit closer at the song off his 2006 album Modern Times called “Ain’t Talkin’. The last stanza to that song goes,

Ain’t talkin’, just walkin’
Up the road around the bend
Heart burnin’, still yearnin’
In the last outback, at the world’s end.

When I hear the phrase, “quest for the Holy Grail,” I think of a pilgrim walking, a vagabond, perhaps in vagabondage, chained to the road, pursuing salvation. The lyrics above could be the words of a pilgrim, walking, questing, still yearning at age 67. Going to ‘world’s end,’ if necessary, or as Dylan sings in “Dignity”:

Searching high, searching low
Searching everywhere I know

Dylan is always ‘walking’ in his songs. Take “Love Sick,” the first song on Time Out of Mind, released in 1997. The first line in that song goes, “I’m walking through streets that are dead.” And the second track on that album, “Dirt Road Blues,” has a line: “Gon’ walk down that dirt road until my eyes begin to bleed.” I could pick out a line from each song on the album that is an apt expression of the walker on some sort of pilgrimage, but perhaps no song is as apt as “Trying to Get to Heaven.” Each stanza in that song ends with the refrain, “I’m trying to get to heaven before they close the door.” The first stanza ends with:

I’ve been walking through the middle of nowhere
Trying to get to heaven before they close the door

What could be a better expression of the pilgrim’s purpose? Heaven, salvation, redemption, self-transcendence, liberation—all words used to describe the Holy Grail the Enneagram Four is seeking on the pilgrimage through life. Walking through the middle of nowhere, looking for the everything that exists in the midst of that nowhere, perhaps in the middle of it, in the center, at its heart.

I’ll end this post here. In the next post, because I ended this one with ‘heart,’ I’ll go into how type Four fits in to the Heart Triad, which is also referred to as the Image Triad, and how Dylan gives form to some of the common conundrums that Triad is faced with.

Prompt: Writing as Healing

Creative imagination…can exercise a healing function. By creating a new unity in a poem or other work of art, the artist is attempting to restore a lost unity or to find a new unity within the inner world of the psyche, as well as producing work which has a real existence in the external world.”
—Anthony Storr, from Solitude: A Return to the Self

Write first without processing to reflect on what you are writing, on whether it sounds good, whether it is right, the way it ought to be said. Without reflection, your truest concerns should come to the surface in a spontaneous, unpremeditated way. Then you can reflect and, in reflecting, you may be able to make some sense of what came to the surface. You may be able to sense some truth that had eluded you before.

The therapeutic aspect here, what is healing, is that you are not writing for anyone else, to get a good grade, to receive praise for what you have done. Who you are is not dependent on what you write when you write the truth of who you are. Then neither the doing nor the being is dependent on the other. They go hand in hand; you are not at odds. There is a strong sense of congruency. You are in alignment with yourself.

Waiting For No One

The same sun shining through the window in this place I must have been before, this place a blue-haired sea-creature left and I returned to only to remember she could only dance alone. Always leaving and returning, always dancing and sitting still. Always looking for the ‘always,’ for what remains, for what is ceaselessly here and does not need to leave and return in order to be here without ceasing, what does not cease but whose activity is not meaningless. For what is more confusing than unceasing and meaningless activity? Doing in order to escape being, working in order to be paid for one’s efforts in fleeing the self. Yet, what is the flight I undergo as I rip apart “what constrains my heart to this prison from which I’m fleeing?” So I ended a poem. Is this a different sort of flight? Yes, for it involves ripping apart the chains, not simply avoiding the chains or going someplace where the chains aren’t nearly so painful, a place where one can forget the chains altogether.

The flight I undergo must go through rather than under or over the chains, cannot avoid them; must go through the self, cannot flee it. It is not a flight from self but a flight from the fleeing of self, from whatever forces the self to flee; it is a forcing of the self to remain with what it wants to flee and be free from, to remain chained until it is able to rip apart what chains it. It is a flight into and then a fight within, rather than a flight away from and a fight without. The outer fight is only ever a flight away from, can only ever put distance between me and what I must come near to, can only disconnect me from myself, from the flight into and the fight within.

The absolute necessity of this flight into and fight within can make me uncomfortable in any situation which requires me to flee away from and into the outer fight which never has made any sense to me. This is why I have a lost look in my eyes much of the time, or in overcompensation I have the driven, focused look of one who pretends he knows exactly what he is after. But do I know what exactly I am after? Would it be exact if I said I am after what brings me before my essential self, what brings my false self to its knees in agonized supplication, what brings me to a place where I can share in the agonies of others, seeing through the distorted expression of the soul and into the essence of their agony? Or would that be a poetic misleading, a flowing veneer like a roaring river just before it is dammed?

Is it possible for me to be exact? What exactly is possible here? What should I hope for? Should I hope at all? Some say hope sits with love on the top shelf of the most essential virtues; others say it is an illusion and inessential. It is essential that I see through illusion, but first I must know what is illusion and what is truth. Is hope essential or is it an illusion? Or is it an essential illusion? But there are no essential illusions; the two terms are contradictory. There is much in this world and in the self that is contradictory, however, and there is much truth in contradiction as well.

There is contradiction in that the self needs to undergo the fight within yet wants to engage in some outer fight so as to avoid and distract itself from the more essential fight. Is it right to call it an inner fight? It is a fight with no victor, no one standing over the others. It is a fight that ends in reconciliation, and the casualties of the fight were never alive in the first place. It is a fight that ends in aliveness, leaving dead and forgotten on the battleground only what never had existence. It is a fight that ends in soul after going through distortions. But the outer fight leaves on the battleground bodies whose souls had the potential to become fully alive. The casualties in that battle were not yet fully alive (for who is fully alive?), but they could have become so. Now they cannot. It is a fight that ends without any sort of true reconciliation, for true reconciliation is inner unity. The peace treaty only signifies that one side was more successful at fleeing the self than the other side.

Who am I writing this for? No one. I am writing this for no one. Only if no one reads this will I be happy, for no one is my audience. The more people who read it, the less happy I will be, for then I would be getting away from my audience, who is no one. If you are reading this, you are not my audience. By all means, read on, dive right into my confusion with me and we can sink a little bit deeper, or perhaps you and I together can float along long enough to be to be rescued by no one, who was my audience in the first place. No one will be sure to come by soon enough to where we are struggling to keep our heads above water. Is it a mistake to call for no one to come rescue me from sinking? Regardless, neither no one nor anyone will come. Perhaps you should leave; remember I did say you were not my audience. I am not here to sink with you. Search for someone to save you, by all means, while I wait here for no one. But do not think I wait here for no one passively or passionlessly. It feels to me like I wait here for no one as no one has ever waited anywhere for anyone. I wait here for no one perhaps like one who still waits for a lover after many years at the intersection of Despair and Hope, where the train to Bedlam crosses the train to Bedrock, where the train that never stops running passes the train that has not yet begun, and the one who is waited for is no longer anyone to the one who waits except in dreams. Do not think I wait here simply thinking. I can no longer think. I think now only of simple things. Is it too hot? It is too cold? Should I go out? Should I stay in?

While I am thinking of simple things, which is all I can think of anymore, I feel the intensity of my longing the way I feel the unbearable summer heat of the desert, multiplied by infinite degrees. Yet who do I long for? No one. Not a single human being. Not even her. Not anymore. I know how that longing ends, and I do not want a longing that ends. Yet this longing for no one is beginning to sear me. Do you think I wait for a dream? No, I must not have made myself understood. Let me try again. Let me, without trying to make myself understood, again express my longing in such a way that it cannot help but be understood, at least by myself. Is it myself or no one who I’m writing for?

I cannot help it if you read this; just remember that I am not writing to you. Although if you are able to remember what you have forgotten, I hope you remember also that this writing is a sort of forgetting, though its final goal is remembering. And what is remembering but forgetting the present to return to the past? I have forgotten the gift which turned out to be nothing of the sort that you handed to me just before I turned from you and walked without a map into the heart of the wilderness, though I didn’t know how to find what I didn’t know I had come there for, and my heart was in such unrest that the silence of the desert could do nothing at all to still it. Had you forgotten that? I would not believe it if you told me you had, but who am I to say I always believe my disbelief?

You must for a moment suspend your disbelief, suspend yourself in mid-air with me as we circle slowly downwards towards the heat of the balloon that rises to meet us, though we are in different hemispheres and I cannot see you. Because I cannot see you, does that mean the heat that rises will not meet in the space between us? Because there is space between us, does that mean I cannot see you?

The heat that rose in me cooled the passion an unearthly sea-creature felt for me, once she realized that this rising heat was not directed towards her, had not risen for her, did not rise for any human being. Again let me remind you that I wait for no one. I know the heat that rises in me, though it may reach the space between us, will not reach either of us when there is no longer any space between us and we are in a passionate embrace that lacks the rising heat. When the heat has risen above it slowly fades from below. And as the heat slowly fades from below the one who felt the heat slowly becomes separate from it, becomes cool, detached, indifferent, without the intensity that is his greatest strength. To burn continually one must have faith that the fire will not come to the surface to be extinguished but remain where it can burn slowly but fully, ever increasing in heat. Faith and patience are necessary as well as an ability to allow oneself to feel lost, given over to the lack of gravity in space while remaining locked into the seriousness of the task, out of one’s hands yet within one’s self.

Confusion and Clarity

Those who feel the most confusion are typically also those who are able to express their souls’ struggle most clearly, while those who are without much confusion have little need or desire to express their own relative lack of struggle. If the latter group, the larger one, were to express their lack of confusion or struggle in a work of art, would-be appreciators would perhaps struggle not to be confused by it; the piece of art would likely lack the clarity the artist feels in life. Creative work is borne more from confusion than from clarity. It is the need to find clarity, to make sense of things, which spurs people to create. If someone is already sure of his life, if he already has a clear and well-constructed identity, then attempting to create will perhaps bring him face-to-face with the confusion he had heretofore avoided, could if he is lucky make him question whether his life is really as clear as he thought, whether looking in the unclear waters might be more in line with his no longer easily discernible purpose.

But that wouldn’t be lucky at all.

Biking the Oregon Coast Part 2, Day 2: From Lincoln City, Oregon to the Washington State Line

I woke up before the sun rose at the campground in Lincoln City. I had gotten to the site late the night before. There had been no one at the window, so I didn’t pay for the site. I left before anyone could hassle me over that. It was before six in the morning, but when I got to the road it was still maddeningly busy.

This trip was a microcosm of the longer trip I had done from Montana to Arizona almost four years before. I experienced all the feelings I had on that trip, but in a shorter period of time. There was the same need to go, the same confused and unclear longings, the same restlessness, the same moments of doubt, the same feelings of loneliness, the same experiences of accomplishment and jubilation. The feelings were condensed on this trip; they did not have the time to fade that they would on a longer journey. They came in shorter but more intense bursts. For me, the more intense the feelings are, the more rewarding. When the road loses its intensity, it’s time to go home, if you’ve got one. If the road is home it’s time to leave home for a time, settle down for a week or two.

There was a streak of insanity to the journey up the Oregon Coast. Each day I rode for over ten hours. Ten the first day, almost fourteen the second, twelve on the third, and thirteen hours on the last day. Why? I had a week to do it, but I did it in four days, and when I was done I felt like I wouldn’t be able to bike for at least four more. I could have averaged more like eight hours on the road per day instead of twelve. But maybe I wanted to test my endurance, as I pedaled by the eternally enduring sea.

So the trip was a microcosm.

I experienced moments of doubt. What am I doing? Why am I doing this? These feelings are probably normal for any trip, but this one somehow seemed more purposeless to me than any. To go out while resolving not to return is one thing. I can understand that. But to go for a four-day out and back tour, even along a beautiful stretch like the Oregon Coast—that is more difficult to understand. Yet I was doing it. I felt like I needed to do it. I certainly wasn’t doing it for fun. There were moments of exhilaration, feelings of strength. But more often it was painful. The wind on the way north was relentless, that cannot be stressed enough. The going was slow. It was work more than fun, work without the weekly check. It is easy to forget how to have fun, and often times I forget. I was not taking an easy ride up the coast. I was booking it, a man on a mission, but what my mission was exactly, I couldn’t say. When I started going and the wind was relentless, I just grimaced. Very well then, into the wind. I welcomed the wind with wild grins contorted by pain.

There was something holding me in Oregon, something I felt was concurrent with my purpose as an individual, but its hold was getting looser. Still, I couldn’t go out if I wouldn’t come back. But as long as I returned I could still go. I wanted to push through all feelings without pushing any of them under. I felt as unsettled and restless as I ever have. I knew the best way for me to deal with those feelings was to keep moving, keep cranking up the revolutions and intensity until I could crank no more. On the trip, that worked; after the trip ended I felt exhausted and could barely move for a few days and then the restlessness returned with a vengeance, what had been holding me loosened its grip still more, and I ended up returning to the coast to do Oregon’s southern route.

I experienced moments of loneliness. On a solo trip, there will be loneliness. I would rather be alone and experience occasional bouts of loneliness than be with another and desire to be alone. The desire to be alone is usually stronger in me than the desire for a companion. When it is not, then I feel lonely.

I remember passing a party on the outskirts of Tillamook on Saturday night, heading back from the Washington border. I saw a woman and man kissing out on the deck, the woman in a bikini. The sun was setting. I felt the loneliness; there was nothing to do but ride on, bringing the loneliness along for the ride.

As I rode, I thought about why that particular scene brought loneliness. It seemed so much like the essence of something, some ideal I had always imagined but never realized. The vast sweep of sand stretching out below, empty of people, the magnificent and rock-islanded Oregon coast, the sun sinking slowly, and a young couple having found their place feeling a part of it all, seeing each aspect of the scene—the vastness of the beach, the power of the sea, the brightness of the sun—reflected in the other’s eyes.

A small, for some reason nearly forbidden part of me felt lonely for that life. I knew I would never experience that much contentment, that much peace and easy happiness, for longer than a few hours or minutes. I cannot understand actively pursuing that life. I take those feelings as they come, but I do not pursue them. I have never been able to let myself experience them for too long. There has to be some conflict, some war with the self, some divine discontent, in order to live a creative life. So I tell myself, at least. My creative output would have to be my romantic sunset night. I too was a part of this scene, a part of it all, not least because there was no one else there with me. My aloneness made me an integral part of what a companion might take away from. So my rationalizations went. As I continued moving, the thoughts slipped away like the sinking of the sun. I kept moving as it started to get dark.

sunset oregon post 2

But that was the following day. This day was still Friday, one of the most physically difficult days of the trip. I don’t know how to write about the actual biking. I just kept pedaling until I got to where I ended up, which was the brilliantly named town of Seaside. It was painful; I was in despair most of the time; I cursed the cars and wind; I belted out Dylan and Zevon again; and I talked to a long-bearded man who was walking from San Francisco to Seattle. I thought it was strange when he said he was walking. We were in the town of Tillamook, renowned for cows and what comes from cows, and we were both walking . I could see that he was walking. That was evident. I was also walking. Later when riding it hit me that he actually meant he was walking the coast, up to Seattle. That was a more impressive feat.

The long-bearded man was from Flagstaff and wearing a NAU shirt; apparently, he had spent some at the Wednesday community lunch offered at Prescott College. That was quite a coincidence. When I said I went to Prescott College, he said, “One of them, huh?” I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but I answered, “yes and no.” I didn’t explain further but if I did I would’ve said,

“I go to the school but I do not feel like ‘one of them’, or one of anything, save the human race occasionally. And though I like being outdoors, and most people at Prescott College like being outdoors, that alone does not make me one of them. In fact, that is one of the reasons I find it hard to be there. How do I distinguish myself when there are so many others with the same interests, the same passions. The need to stand out has always been much stronger in me than the need to fit in. However, my natural inwardness does not usually allow me to stand out, except when writing takes my place, and the words are authentic and passionate. And how does it take my place? What place is there to take? Who is authentic? What is passion if invisible? And where do I go if writing takes my place? Who goes? Who writes? Who knows? Go home! You long-bearded expatriate from Flagstaff! Go moan for man! Go eat the famous Tillamook cows! And how authentic is it when it takes my place? You ask. As authentic as a place holder? Have I placed my trust in images and distorted facts? Even you, yesterday you had to ask me where it was at? I couldn’t believe after all these years, you didn’t know me any better than that?” (very cool version)

And then the long-bearded expatriate of Flagstaff would probably be mightily confused because indeed I had just met him less than two minutes ago and had not known him for all these years, unless he knew the Dylan song and then perhaps we would have joined in a duet, and after finishing and radically butchering most of the song I would’ve said, ‘Let’s go, I’ll walk my bike to Seattle with you’ and we would have taken off for the road north and I would never have gotten back to school because I’d be walking up the coast with this man who would call me Alias while I would call him Augustine.

But none of that happened because I just answered, ‘yes an no.’ We talked for a few minutes, I wished him luck, then I took off again for the Washington state line.

The wind was howlin’ and outrageous but I just put my head down and pedaled slowly and steadily until I made it to Seaside close to sundown. All the tent sites were equally as outrageous in price as the wind was in power, so I camped by the side school which I hoped was closed for the summer. Anyways it was Friday night. I ate a burger in a fish joint and then went and saw a movie by myself: Spy. It was very funny but I nearly fell asleep during it for exhaustion.

I slept without issue that night by the school, woke up late, and went to a continental breakfast at the Quality Inn. Illegal! You rotten vagrant! You might roar with scorn and derision in your eyes, to which I probably shrug my shoulders and give no response. Though I was itching to get back to the road, now being only about twenty miles from the state line and the turn around point and the wind at my back, food was necessary, and also free, if illicit. No issue at the Quality Inn either, and some quality eggs, sausages, granola, blueberry muffins, and I forget what else. On previous trips I had once done this often without shame, feeling I deserved it from the riding I was doing, but I was starting to feel slightly uneasy. I was older now, nearing the age when other people were making money, maybe even sleeping at hotels and getting the continental breakfasts with good consciences and emptier wallets. Well, regardless, I was starving and felt I had the right to the food that would probably been thrown out anyways. I wasn’t causing anyone any pain. Entitlement! Rationalization! You might roar with scorn and derision in your eyes, to which I would probably shrug my shoulders and give no response, though perhaps I would secretly agree.

So I ate and went back on the road, where I would ride up to Astoria and get pummeled by wind from what felt like every direction as I rode over the bridge to Washington in order to promptly turn around and head back over the bridge to Oregon. Insanity! You might roar, enjoying yourself now with glee, to which I would openly and wholeheartedly agree, with a shrug and perhaps a wild yodel, now with the wind at my back.