Pattison on Wheels

Thursday, February 7, 2008


I stopped at The Mojave National Preserve and did a nice little hike. Then I programmed the GPS to take me to Lake Havasu City and not use freeways. The old road was empty. The towns Essex and Goff were almost empty. Final stages of Ghost Town syndrome. The road was so straight and long and featureless that I experimented with driving on the left for a while. Once I got the GPS to admit that I was going 100MPH. I’m a generally law abiding person but had there been a sign setting a speed limit it was impossible to drive less than 70. The vistas were so big in every direction that you couldn’t judge them at all. I have a sense of distance but the GPS assured me that the upcoming intersection I estimated at half a mile was in fact 2.5 miles away.

Lake Havasu city is very friendly. I talked to a sheriff’s deputy and a park host and they were friendly and free with advice. Both told me about miles of free camping on BLM land. Things are prettiy loose around here. I imagine the people are humble because at a deep intuitive level they know that the whole idea of this profoundly artificial lake in the desert is not a solid basis for a city. I am stunned by the contradiction in the way Zorba was stunned by the idea of a mule.

The city is a mixture of trash-strewn gravel and new malls surrounded by new homes. There is a sense of money in the air. The Rotary Park is a gorgeous study in lawn care—playgrounds, beaches, cabanas, playing fields, et al. Lots of cute little cotton-tail bunnies come out at night and gambol on the grass. There is a giant Home Depot and a giant Lowes in town. Ghost Town Syndrome early stage. London Bridge famously imported to provide much needed culture but it didn’t really do the job.

I am trying hard to give up thinking but it isn’t going well. Perfect honesty, I can see, is very empty of thought. The thoughts start without my being aware of them. It is like going to sleep. I never really remember going to sleep very well. I remember only waking up. I remind myself to celebrate when I become aware that, oops, I have been thinking again. After all, it is the awareness that is the goal of this exercise. Nevertheless, I usually give myself a few black marks for drifting off again.

From Zen Flesh, Zen Bones compiled by Paul Reps, Kakuan’s comment to the fourth bull:
He dwelt in the forest for a long time, but I caught him today! Infatuation with scenery interferes with his direction. Longing for sweeter grass, he wanders away. His mind still is stubborn and unbridled. If I wish him to submit I must raise my whip.


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