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This morning finds me almost back home from our excursion, our toodle, into the DeepSouth. I left with no more than beliefs about what I might find there and I return with some of those beliefs intact, but with many of them thrown into uneasy question. The world doesn’t seem to much care what I believe about it and my perceptions of the world might twist whatever I think I’m seeing. I am confident as I return that I did not see The Deep South, but I might have caught fresh glimpses of me perceiving there. To look at something different, even something I expect to be different, qualifies as an act of discovery; not so much discovery of that object, but of my own act of perceiving.

Back home, my anticipation and perception mostly seamlessly integrate, so there’s little gradient for me to experience perception, or, indeed, for me to really see whatever I’m looking at. The world convincingly appears just as I expect it to appear. This can be a dreary state, a numbing where the vitality characteristic of discovering seems absent. Leave that familiarity, and more than the landscape changes. I might become more alive.

The DeepSouth, that place I entered hesitantly a scant week ago, has only lost some of its teeth for me. It turned out to actually be a really different place, but perhaps only because I discovered such a different me there. Perhaps my notions of DeepSouth-ness served as a fun house mirror, reflecting a surprising self image back at me. I can say that superficially, the DeepSouth seemed similar to every other place. It exhibited the familiar four dimensions, the usual color, gravity, day, and night. People behaved differently, or seemed to, but not outside what anyone might consider normal. It was not an otherworldly place.

I sometimes travel believing that I might stumble upon an otherworldly place, but I have not so far. Each place fit, sometimes with a little squint, into familiar enough patterns for me to distinguish where to eat, sleep, walk, and pee. I was not transported far beyond my familiarities. The trip did not transform me, but enlivened me. New places. New perceptions. Perhaps even new beliefs.

I was unable to bring back much more than some shells The Muse found along the Gulf Coast. I found no compelling souvenir, no tee shirt I might wear to remind me of the me I discovered there, which wasn’t really so different than the me I seem to discover on every journey. I might reasonably conclude that I travel not to see anything other than me in a different place, because difference awakens me and amplifies possibilities. The dream realized spawns another, deeper, dreaming.

The return drive was less leisurely than the immersion, for Karios, the Greek God of Timelessness, was losing his grasp and Kronos, his counterpart, started to regain his grip. We drove for distance yesterday, long hours of intense concentration on roads filled with people mistaking their minivans for stock cars, and traveling for some form of competition, as if passing one truck or another fifth wheel would somehow transport the passer into a world where there were no more trucks or fifth wheels to pass, rather than merely speed up the next encounter with another apparent barrier to forward progress. I pick a speed where I’m unlikely to ever need to pass anyone, letting everyone else do the heavy lifting. The Muse zooms, and works a lot harder than I ever do, and burns out faster.

The final forty miles felt excruciating. Up and over the Blue Ridge while the sun painted the ridge line ever subtler pastels, we crawled into more familiar territory. We checked into yet another hotel just like that other one before limping out to another meal in yet another completely unique, local place. There’s a point where even difference becomes familiar, and I discover that I eventually adapt to even continuous change. Home will seem a welcome respite from this endless discovering, though I expect both of us will have changed in my absence. For a few days, the same-old will seem fresh, and I will probably feel fresher, too. Refreshed at the end of an exhausting excursion.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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