The town of Boardman, Oregon smells like a fart. It is a patchwork of cow pastures (hence the smell) but the folks are friendly (they don’t let you pump your own gas around here) and, well, quite honestly, the stark, flattened landscape and the many shades of brown give me the fuzzy feelings of home, Southern Cal-style.
To be amongst the non-descript is also a good place in which to wax philosophic about larger issues and to take stock of one’s individual and collective place in the universe. Since there really isn’t that much to focus on in the external reality here (I mean, how long can one stare at a patch of goat head burrs or a flickering sign that says EAT before the mind wanders?), I suppose that it is natural that the churning sea of internal contemplation came frothing to the surface.
So was the case this morning as Shane and I sat on an old, crooked picnic table, looking out at the black line of I-84.
We entered into the zone that a morning double espresso will sometimes produce and as the creaky wheels of our grey matter began to turn with each sip, so did the rapid-fire contemplation of those very neurons (and everything else in between). I can’t really comment about how it was for him, but to me this kind of navel-gazing was a real turn on and a refreshing change to the normal and to-be-expected banter of two people living and traveling in an RV that is about as old as we are (all three of us are pushing half a century here, let’s face it).
That usual dialogue goes something like this:
He: Ugggh, what’s that smell?
She: I don’t know…did you…?
He: Heck no, I think it’s the frig….
She: What in the frig?
He: How am I supposed to know? You got in there last…
She: So now you are saying that it is my fault?
He: Oh Christ, just light some incense…
She: Are you sure you didn’t….?
He: Maybe you did and you are just covering up the fact…
She: I’m gonna open up the frig and see…
He: Won’t that make it worse?
She: I don’t care…
He: Okay but watch out for the….
(loud, crashing noise)
He: Never mind….
She: Hey, where are we anyways?
(insert date and repeat ad neausium…)
Sometimes, however (and for us, it does seem to happen in these non-descript towns that usually consist of a gas station, an eternally-closed mechanics shop and an espresso cart minded by a high schooler with a get-me-the-hell-out-of-here look on her face), the cosmic energies are aligned and—bam!─ one of us says something that ignites a conversation that sends us on a voyage of intellectual and spiritual exploration.
This time, it started with a statement from Shane:
“I think people get bogged down with their goals because they don’t know what part of the ‘choice train’ they are on…”
From this comment into an infinity of moments (which was really only about a half an hour), the whole world opened up before us. Along our path of ideas, we chug-a-lugged the steep hill of spirit vs science and politic opining into the smooth vistas of possibility (Could they all be interconnected after all?) and into a down, down, down crescendo of revelation (Yes! They are!) which lead to the peaceful confusing of:
…so maybe we ARE the universe, we ARE the “I” that is constant, observant, connected, outside the external reality…
Do we need to be in the desert wasteland of small-town America (no offense, Boardman, Oregon, your greasy spoon-version of tortilla soup at the Village Restaurant was out of this world!) in order to allow these revelations to come?
I don’t know. All I know is that it has something to do with cycles─ the ebbs and flows of life, the filling up and the pouring out, the occasional miracle that conversations like this can sometimes happen between us before 9 am and without herbal inhalants of any kind.
And conversations such as these─ which come unexpectantly like sparkling jewels amidst the muddy water of our everyday existence─ are definitely experiences worth waiting for.