My travels while writing The Journey of Samson Pyne took me well beyond that moment at the Canadian border. I traveled the southern edge of Glacier National Park, spent the better part of a day at various Mount St. Helens Visitor Centers, drove along the Columbia River and through a number of Washington state’s apple orchards. I traveled down the Oregon coast and awoke
in my sleeping bag on a picnic table to what seemed like the perfect morning beside the Pacific Ocean. I toured part of Redwood National and State Parks, drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and through San Francisco. I also learned a valuable lesson about taking the wrong freeway exit
in Los Angeles. I crossed the Mojave Desert with, as it turned out, little more than a quart of oil in the truck's oil pan, and cruised the Vegas Strip at night before returning to that piece of land outside of Fort Garland, Colorado where I had said my last goodbyes to my father (in spirit anyway). I even had a rather odd experience with enlightenment next to a small mountain stream when whirling winds and weird dreams left me questioning my reality.
Eventually, having driven over 11,000 miles, I returned to Texas (though I think the actual mileage tally was closer to 14,000 miles). I thought the journey was over.
I can’t really tell you why I chose the first image on this page to end this series of blog posts. I’d like to tell you I had some grand revelation regarding God or some ultimate existence while crossing the western half of the United States of America. While there were several incidents I have yet to be able to explain, it was something else that I saw along with the image of the cross that captured me.
Symbols existed almost every step of this journey, more so in the cities and towns I traveled through than in the remote areas. But beyond freedom of expression, all had one thing in common: purpose.
We are extinct without purpose, be that to improve ourselves or each other. Freedom may be the binder of our nation's differences, but it is purpose that drives improvement. Without meaning, without belief, without freedom, without purpose, we are destined to become lost in repetitive circles within the grids of modern life, all the while longing to break free; to explore.
So it was that I returned home, though home had a much broader meaning than before. Home wasn’t some 60-acre tract of land in Colorado; it wasn’t the truck I had traveled thousands of miles in or any one of the many states I visited. Home wasn’t where I started or ended my journey or even necessarily where I choose to live even today. Home was something I was linked to, where I fit in, where I felt that I belonged.
Sadly, the something else that was “yet to be defined” problem continued to worsen over the following years before I voluntarily checked into a clinic. After almost a month of daily appointments, a psychologist made a diagnosis: bipolar disorder. As bad as that was, having a name to something that was nameless for so many years of my life was actually a relief.
I’ve questioned at times whether the journey was an irrational phase of my life brought on by mania, or simply the explorer who had always wanted to break out of those circles within the grid of city life. It may be that I never really know the answer. What I do know, now that I live among the flora and fauna on this rural piece of land in the North Texas Red River Valley, is that with spirit, regardless of belief, it is possible to survive things one could not imagine being able to survive.
Fighting bipolar disorder is a daily and sometimes hourly event for those of us who have it. The disease can ravage the mind as well as the brain and the medications can have adverse side effects on the rest of the body. To date there is still no cure and current treatment involves medication, exercise, diet, and counseling.
I would like to tell you there is a happy ending, but the truth of the matter is that the ending is still being written. Perhaps that is just as it should be.
I do not know whether or not life begins and ends with the biological cell, but I suspect it does not. If I could sum up this blog post series and the journey within with a piece of advice it would be this: know your limitations, but never limit yourself.
Thanks for reading Blogging The Journey,
Alan S. Garrett