Early Morning in Maine

How is it we can miss what we never had? Looking out to a northern ocean flecked with islands, the day’s light a brooding one and the sloop’s sails tucked away at rest, I acknowledge it happens but had not found words to make sense of it until now. Some things we know how to say; others we only feel.

Very early on a summer day the sun rose over Belfast, among the quietest of Maine’s coastal towns. Staying alone in a single-room cottage on the shore, not much effort nor time was needed to walk to the water. I only had to roll over – and over – until I’d rolled enough that I was no longer in the bed. Moments and slip-on shoes later, standing at the water’s edge the horizon mirrored still-dim morning light.

No one walked the beach at this hour, other than a man several yards down. He kept to himself atop a boulder, reading a book. I wonder when I spot a fellow solitary human: Are they like me?

Among general populations I don’t believe many are. How many times have I been drawn to these off-the-beaten-path destinations—in which I think other people should also want to spend time—to find I am the only one there? I have lost count.

Sometimes I’ll reach a nowhere-type place and find one or two strangers also present, and can’t help but romanticize the idea that they might be my (long sought after) mirror. Something within them must be the same something within me that brought us both here at the same time? The most rational sliver of my brain registers this as coincidence, yet I continue to agnostically follow magnets that push and pull and lead me to see signs when, in retrospect, there were none.

Don’t we all want to live this way? Isn’t seeing signs the same as having hope, and isn’t hope the most valuable possession of all?

Often, I hold to the idea that someone is out there, like me, standing on an empty shore or the side of a mountain or driving a little nothing of a country road, half stuck inside their memories and half wondering if another human is doing the same thing they are and thinking the same thoughts that they are thinking at that very moment.

If so: I have been missing you, without having had you, all this time.

(first written September 8, 2018)

Standard

Open Road Therapy

In the book Roads by Larry McMurtry (author of Lonesome Dove), he writes:

“Being alone in the car is to be protected for a time from the pressures of day-to-day life; it’s like being in one’s own time machine, in which the mind can rove ahead to the future or scan the past.”

While this quote might best apply to road-trippers, I also find McMurtry’s sentiment to apply to everyday driving – to and from work, to the grocery and so on. There is something therapeutic about the way being alone in a car temporarily turns off the socially-constructed spotlight we constantly perform in. We become fleetingly able to experience our own internal dialogue, our own humanity, without interruption. I would even guess that most of us are more similar to each other during these moments of aloneness than we are when we’re back in the spotlight.

Five years back, during 52 almost-consecutive days on the road, I split my time evenly between the deserts and forests of the American West and British Columbia. Enough time in either environment can cause the mind to wander, and I wonder about the contemplative thoughts such empty stretches of road have incubated for others? I find answers, often questions, occasional forgiveness and by the end of the day a tiredness that folds me into bed and allows me to give in to life as it is, and to myself as I am. After a day of driving the mind does not ask why nor how nor am I enough. It evaluates when energy exists to be burned.

(first written July 6, 2015; revised for ColetteKay.com)

Standard