Two sides. One truth.
Kalu. Nalu.
Like the street dogs. Black and white but never quite one or the other.
Life and Death are not very tidy. Always a few stray hairs.
Fear is like fleas.
Fear is like ticks.

On the drive to Samar the road underneath our jeep tried to slide off the mountain.
Everyone talking one instant and in the next silence. No one moved. No one said a word—the music on the cd played on. Tibetan pop. We were on our way out and knew it—this was going to be the Big Ticket.
We are about to Buy the Farm.
Turn in our dinner pails.
So this is what the trip was really about. Right along. Karmic intersect of a jeepload of incarnations headed straight to the Bardo.
Panic, brain in high gear. We are not getting out of this one. All those physiological things go into overdrive.
Sweaty palms, suffocation, can’t breathe. Heart pounding.
Meanwhile outside it’s just a normal day. Too bad, can’t count on that. We all die on normal days.
This is not happening to “someone else”.

Take note: our driver was not giving in.
Hey! wait a minute, not so fast… he was not asleep at the wheel. It was the mountain whose mind was elsewhere, who being careless didn’t notice the extra weight hanging off her side until
it was too late.
From the way-back seat I caught the eyes of the driver in the rearview mirror, a young man’s eyes, steady, so steady, hawk-like, black, deep—no fear—determined—eyes of a horseman, they all drive that way here, as if on horseback, as if the jeep were a living thing to talk to, to calm, to encourage. The mountain
Not a murderous enemy, not mindless inert mineral heap.
No she is a great big soft goddess enjoying the sun. She’s a happy lazy thing,
a big rock carved open recently to expose soft innards, she likes the feel of things walking and crawling around on her. Doesn’t mind but doesn’t particularly care about them. Indifferent.
This morning she fell asleep, warming herself in the sun, careless, inattentive and basically lazy, now her new road would slide off into the abyss. Oh, well. The jeep woke her. She yawned, the breeze drove another cloud of dirt our way, the road slid a little more,
the air inside the jeep was thick with dust. The driver gave the dashboard a comforting pat, turned down the music spun the tiny prayer wheel glued to the dashboard and leaned into the steering wheel
the only sounds in the jeep:
The spinning wheel. The distant music like a thought. His quiet breath, the gears shifting down under his brown
Hand, fingers wrapped around the shift, the
ground shifting, not the jeep, it couldn’t move only wait until the ground stopped moving, if it did, sliding soft red wave, the road washing out without rain, just its own weight taking it, tilting off the mountain slowly, with grace
our death would come –slowly and then the long fall the spectacular fall through space
Out my window nothing, no road, the road so far underneath the jeep it was gone, baby, outta sight and there was nothing
But air but somehow we didn’t fall.
The mountain righted herself. Smoothed her skirts. Settled back in for a snooze.
The driver cracked a smile and turned up the music.

Fear is nothing but a waste of time.

3 Comments

  1. Fantastic !!! And the photos are absolutely breathtaking….

  2. Ginny Ramus

    wow…wow…and wow….

  3. Elaine Clough

    What an amazing road! I have been on a couple of hazardous trailhead roads in British Columbia that were undercut. One had sloughed off and someone piled a bunch of branches in the hole, for the outside tire to ride over. We made it through, but with the knowledge that in a few days, we would have to pass this way again. On a different trip and a different road, I said, I have to walk.
    Thank goodness for your skilled, calm driver. It is good to be reminded now and then that we have to let go, could be this time, could be today. We never know.

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