For you must change-

I’ve been on the road & out of blog-mode, forgive me…..

I’ll try to catch up on the many posts rattling around in my laptop & mind-

To start with, here is the sunset across one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever known, highway 287 running from Laramie, Wyoming to Fort Collins, Colorado.

And this is looking in the other direction at the same moment:

Why are we such a road trip culture? Is there somehow a massive concentration of “traveler” genetics on this continent distilled from layers of migration upon migration?

But the road trip oozes technology now, it’s not a dangerous Atlantic crossing in a leaky wooden bathtub anymore, it’s not “go west young man” for endless months in a rattly wagon.

Perfect maps, rest stops, and the 200+ foot high windmills rising from remote bluffs on the Utah/Colorado border.

Not just one, but hundreds. In my book, thoughtful Patriotism IS alternative energy like this.

A vast proportion of our media seems devoted to the road trip. What is the “Wizard of Oz” but a road trip movie? Everything surrounding the yellow brick road is in color, and Kansas is dull black and white.

Feeling the diesel roar down the highway, and at the rest stop, a 10 year old sits behind the wheel of a yellow truck as dad and Grandpa talk about the next turn. Does he dream of driving a 30 foot yellow Ryder, hurtling down the highway at 70mph, filled with everything he owns?

Forgive me if my mental radar is set on wide-scan, and is picking up a bit more than just speedkating. A few days ago I had a multi-hour conversation with one of my mentors from the MFA program at Colorado State University.

Bill Tremblay went to Columbia on a football scholarship just like Jack Kerouac did. After a knee injury ended his football days, he turned his considerable intensity to literature & ended up as a widely published writer & English Professor at Colorado State. I’m so lucky our paths crossed, he’s been a huge influence. Not many poets “get” the competitive physical world.

Bill recently retired from decades of teaching at CSU. Just before we parted, he told me he had a dream where a massive football stadium arose in the middle of Fort Collins.

He went in, found a team practicing. He strode up to the coach, said, “put me in, I can still go”

The coach handed him a set of pads, a uniform, & said;


“You can do it, but you must change.”

Changing on many levels. Into a uniform and into a new determination. It’s part of the promise of all competitive sports, and road trips. Experience & change, internal & external, the unavoidable constant.

Maybe that is one of the attractions of doing a small sport like speedskating, road trips are MANDATORY to get to major competitions.. (it’s also the handicap, as it gets nasty expensive).

Sit down with any athlete; ask about memorable road trips, the stories will usually pour out.

9 Responses to “For you must change-”

  1. I know I have my share of stories…some real doozies! A lot of which has to do with mishaps…but we always managed to get to the competition at least.

  2. btw, those pictures illustrate the reason I don’t actually ever do much driving on road trips myself…I’m very easily distracted, especially by awesome scenery.

  3. It’s not just athletes…road trips definitely have a mojo all their own. SO many books are basically road trips, as if we know that adventures are just so much more likely to happen when we detach from the familiar.

    “You can do it, but you must change.” That sent a shivver up my spine. It’s always true (or at least close enough to always), but sometimes it takes something portentous like a direct instruction in a dream to remind us.

  4. It is a know fact that, in order to write and write well, that is - one must travel to expand one’s horizon….
    The higher the cost, the greater the reward (not talking about just money ).
    Keep up with your travels, Grass hopper..
    btw, Have you ever read ” The Way of Zen” by Alan Watts?.

  5. Buddhistpunk,
    Immanuel Kant did not need to leave his village to write ‘the critique of pure logic’, as i remember, but there is no argument that his writing is a classic..[ergo, ‘good’]
    i give this example to suggest you refine, elucidate the thought per given Maxim? Unless you are of course a writer of a true ‘Classic’, in which case please enlighten us further, Great Buddwhalla??…:)

  6. Greg,
    Good point on Kant. Thanks… I stand corrected…Although I find his writing a bit dry and a tough go. I believe that Kant wrote and or came up with “The Critique of Pure Logic” during his period of isolation and or an inward journey?….. No electronic toys or information super highways back then.. Makes one wonder if the information super highways is making society smarter or dumber…. I tend to go with the latter..
    Anyway, I guess it’s a matter of what one chooses to write about.
    Whether its John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” or D.T Suzuki’s ” the Zen doctrine of no-mind”. Esotericism versus exoticism?. . I might ad, that at that time, traveling one hundred miles was quite a ways. But then, again Kant was quite gifted either way.
    Thanks again.

  7. I’ve never read Kant or Alan Watts’ book, but I’ve read several things by D.T. Suzuki.

    What facinates me about Zen & it’s application to sports is that the best athletes are able to really live in “present mind” during moments of EXTREME SOUL CRUSHING pressue.

    and also, when doing sports, especially cycling or skating, once a certain techical proficency is achieved, you can find a peace in the present moment that is rare & wonderful…..

    I’ve read many books on Zen, of course “Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Matinence” (uneven, and a book that does not live up to it’s brilliant title), and “Zen & the art of Archery”

    the latter book truly moved me in high school, but there is a big problem with it. It’s fundamentally a miscommunication between 2 people who did not share a language, but over time, its ideas have become TRUTH to many.

    If one recieves a map to buried treasure, and the map is full of mistakes & mistranslations & sends you way off course, but when you dig in the “wrong” spot and find treasure anyway, is the map invalid??

  8. Every map is valid; because, no matter where you go or end up, there you are :)
    Very well stated on athleticisms and Zen. For anything one does while in complete focus is a form of meditation to make one live in the moment. Kyudo(“Zen & the art of Archery”) is great!!!; or any of the Budos. But darn it, there just isn’t enough time to practice it all…. So, we choose the solitude of pain in speed skating to keep us in the moment…………….

  9. And you made your trip memorable for our family, too. The kids are still talking about it. Check out the photo, everyone:

    http://benellie.blogspot.com/2007/07/uncle-andrew-on-top-bunk.html

    Come back soon!

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