...I'm momentarily transfixed, torn between curiosity and fear. I can pull it up the gently sloping mud bank, but then what? Already thought is lagging behind events, as the blotchy brown mass slides up wet mud toward me, its amorphous margins flowing into the craters left by retreating feet. In the center of the yard-wide disc is a raised turret where two eyes open and close, flashing black. And it's bellowing. A loud rhythmic sound that is at first inexplicable until I realize that those blinking eyes are its spiracles, now sucking in air instead of water, which it is pumping out via gill slits on its underside. And all the while it brandishes that blade, stabbing the air like a scorpion...
A five-hour flight works out to three days and nights on land, by rail, from sea to shining sea.
You can chalk off the hours on the back of the seat ahead. But seventy-some hours will not seem so long to you if you tell yourself first: This is where I am going to be for the rest of my natural life.
It was exciting to be off on a journey she had looked forward to for months. Oddly, the billowing diesel fumes of the airport did not smell like suffocating effluence, it assumed a peculiar pungent scent that morning, like the beginning of a new adventure, if an adventure could exude a fragrance.
I want my heart to be the thin place. I don't want to board a plane to feel the kiss of heaven. I want to carry it with me wherever I go. I want my fragile, hurting heart, to recognize fleeting kairos, eternal moments as they pass. I want to be my own mountain and my own retreat.
No man is brave that has never walked a hundred miles. If you want to know the truth of who you are, walk until not a person knows your name. Travel is the great leveler, the great teacher, bitter as medicine, crueler than mirror-glass. A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet.
There are people everywhere who form a Fourth World, or a diaspora of their own.
They are the lordly ones! They come in all colors.
They can be Christians or Hindus or Muslims or Jews or pagans or atheists.
They can be young or old, men or women, soldiers or pacifists, rich or poor.
They may be patriots, but they are never chauvinists.
They share with each other, across all the nations, common values of humor and understanding.
When you are among them you know you will not be mocked or resented, because they will not care about your race, your faith, your sex or your nationality, and they suffer fools if not gladly, at least sympathetically.
They laugh easily. They are easily grateful. They are never mean.
They are not inhibited by fashion, public opinion, or political correctness.
They are exiles in their own communities, because they are always in a minority, but they form a mighty nation, if they only knew it.