No time is the depth of my solitude felt more deeply and with more resonance than on my extensive bus journeys throughout the many landscapes of the world. In those moments, during the interminable hours catapulting across a country where trees are dots and homes are dashes of a Morse code message I have yet to discover, the weight of my life choices retreats from the safety of my skin, dives into my blood and rushes my mind with a torrent of lucid realizations and a sad clarity. During those silent contemplations I recognize that the decade and a half spent toiling alone in a home office have either instilled a rare form of solitary strength, or a perverted sense of social connection restricted to an artificial arrangement of electrons distributed across varied screens. I had either been unknowingly preparing to appreciate the world through fiercely independent, hungry and passionate eyes or I had been creating a path of precedents towards a life of hermitism and emotional disconnection the consequences of which I may not perceive for many years to come. If the combination of the two is possible perhaps the truth lies in that mutant merger. Logic whispers that such a merger is not only impossible but is a musing of a desperate mind grasping for the nearest branch of denial to be found. At the other end, fear attempts to convince me that indeed I’m on a dark path from which there is no coming back and on which I can find nothing but trivial encounters, repetition and a complete lack of emotional flexibility. I am resolved to ensure that my bus enabled excursions remain opportunities to ponder the changes that blindly infiltrate my soul, so that I might prevent fear from being the bearer of truth. May these moments of reflection always be reminders of where I’ve come from and what options are available to me so that I don’t forget what dangers may lie ahead and what beauty has so filled my past.
While I can’t ignore the possibility of where my soul’s inclinations may be pulling me, I instead prefer to consider the initial conclusion; that of appreciating the world through hungry eyes. I can’t ignore that I may be headed into a world buried so deeply within myself, devoid of space for anyone or anything else, that perhaps this extreme incarnation of a home office is only a self-imposed trick to pluck out my own eyes and deaden my heart until all that is left is a pump pushing thick machine-like blood through my soulless body. But perhaps, I have simply been preparing for something different. I believe that my extended solitude is atypical but I also have a hard time finding the tarnish that my fear says should be corrupting any possible shine that once may have been. Instead I find a subtle luminous incandescence in the sadness that accompanies me in the empty seats beside me. As I watch the world go by with the same blur as the time left in my life it’s not fear that fills my thoughts or courses through my veins. My solitude, my stubborn loneliness doesn’t feel like a curse brought on by a life of poor calculations but rather a reorganization of all that came before to make more room for what is to come. The cavernous recesses of my mind are busily tidying up the memories and sensations of what has been, placing everything on newly dusted shelves, re-positioning the lights so that nothing is in the dark, archiving what has never been accessed and reshuffling that which has left its marks, without any sense of chronology or precedence, into an efficiently filed collection that spells out the life I’ve lead. Its goal it seems, is to ensure that enough empty space exists to encourage the mess of creation for all that may come.
It is a housecleaning undeniably tinged with a modestly fragrant nostalgia stirred into the air by the feather-dusters of my mind, dusty with melancholy. Where I should find pain I find appreciation. I revel quietly in that lachrymose melancholy, finding an indescribable solace in its fuzzy pungency. It is perhaps only at the occasional recognition of this satisfaction that fear finds its opening, suggesting cleverly that it’s in the abnormality of that very satisfaction that the seeds of my destruction are being sown. It’s precisely my inability to counter that thought with any form of logical or emotional retort that then feeds the beast and allows him a permanent place in my psyche. I don’t mind that he has found a home in the swamps of my consciousness. He is as welcomed as any guest is, provided he doesn’t find fertile grounds upon which to procreate and infect the neighbors beside which he has chosen to live out his days. His presence is a reminder of a potential universe that I strive to ensure will not come to swallow the one in which the galaxies of my future exist.
Still I do ask if revelry in a sad solitude is the sign of a heart learning to expand with the world beyond it or an omen of a soul too damaged to breathe in the light of creation, fixed instead on the darkness of the great abyss, done with the beauty and novelty of the world and set on the stoic minimalism of the solitary side of existence, separate from the strings that bind us all.
There is lack of clarity here. In its place is simply a purple fluid hope that can at once sour into the blackness of space or blossom into the comforting divinity of turquoise waters. It is only within the pure sunlit waters that beauty flows into so many of the discordant cracks of time that make up my days, bringing with them subtle smiles, and momentary love that will be forgotten seconds later but that are individual piercings of a tattoo needle as they break the skin of my heart and deposit a singular drop of ink under its outer shell. No individual particle has meaning or pigment, no coordinated effort or grand design guides the frenetic needle as it oscillates uncontrollably, devoid of pattern or mission. But the heart upon which it has found a canvas has utter faith that the end result, no matter how long or short the session, will speak of something true, something good, something inspirational and glorious.
These buscapades are full of contradiction. I’m never more alone but never more hopeful. Without fail I find myself impatient, unable to sleep, uncomfortable yet also content, relaxed and creative in ways that generally don’t exist under any other circumstances. I often dread the prospect of having to begin the process of moving to another location yet find some of the greatest satisfaction while committed to the move. The bus is the singular line that connects all the dots of my life. It is the one common place of meditation, devoid of sleep yet filled with dreams of where I’m headed and memories of where I’ve been. It is the defragmenter of my most recent experiences and the blender of my upcoming expectations. It’s a sad symbol of what I’m leaving behind and a hopeful road sign of the impending adventure. In every case it’s recharging and exhausting. In every case it’s one of the most beautiful parts of my existence and the only truly reliable place to be alone with my thoughts and my feelings.