TRAVELING PRAYER

How is it we decide in whom to place our trust? 

Is there a test, an audition of sorts, in which a stranger
must perform deeds requiring bravery or good will?  Is it the look in their eyes, the tilt of
their heads, the clothes they wear?  Does
longevity count, a period of good behavior that equals permanent trusted
status?  Is it harder to trust someone
new, or to come to the shocking, painful realization that we have judged
someone wrong, and they cannot be trusted after all?

In truth, we are not so rational about it.  No test but instinct is applied, that and the
simple expedience of opportunity.  We
trust others because they are there, and what choice do we have?  A solitary life hidden behind the walls we
create to protect ourselves. 

How did you choose your path in life?  Did you spend your childhood wanting it?  Did you work hard in your formative years to
acquire it?  I’m betting not.  Most of us take the path that lies most
clearly before us, the one laid out for us by the constraints of our upbringing
and our circumstances. 

Free will?  Sort
of.  We are only free to choose that
which we can conceive of, and that is bound on all sides.  Race, religion, gender, socio-economic
status, parental expectations, the state of the economy, war, the country in
which we are raised, the decade in which we are born, and the hierarchy.

Humans need food, air, and water.  They need to feel secure.  They need love and the esteem of others.  Only after these conditions are met can they
begin to develop a sense of power over their destinies.  Only then can they form true intentions.

Many people never come to intention.  The other needs are hard to meet, requiring
much time and effort.  Sometimes
intention comes too late.  You follow a
path, the path that brings you food and air and safety and love and esteem, and
in doing so you walk right by the other paths, the riskier ones, the ones you
don’t take because you can’t see around the bend, and the ones you don’t take
because you can’t even see the path.  It
is outside your scope.  And having passed
by the path, you never come upon it again.

Legend has it that delta bluesman Robert Johnson sold his
soul to the devil in exchange for his ungodly talent.  I’ll tell you this: I wouldn’t sell my soul
for anything.  Not because I fear the
devil (not having been trained to do so in my youth), but because I can dredge
up no desire that strong.  What are
dreams, anyway?  The paths we passed up.  The choices we make at every juncture send us
down roads we didn’t know were there. 
What would you give to have the chance to go back and make a different
choice, go down a different road, find out where it leads?  Would it be worth your soul?

I walked away from the offices of the newspaper that
employed me, the Crossroads Chronicle.  Bill and I had been living in the clean-linen
rooming house for six months.  I wrote stories
of small town happenings; he played every night except Sunday and Monday at the
bar next to the train tracks.  I had
never seen another train pass through town since the night we arrived.

When I got to the house I found him on the front porch,
strumming his guitar.

You
better come on in my kitchen, it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors
When a woman gets in trouble, everybody throws her down
Lookin’ for yo’ good friend, none can be found
You better come on in my kitchen, it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors

“Bill,” I said, “I don’t need to be redeemed.  I haven’t done anything wrong.”

He put down the guitar and ran a hand through his hair, more
gray now, I noticed, than the night we met. 
“I know, sweetheart.”

In my room I put on my wool coat, stuffing some coins in the
deep pockets.  I kissed Bill’s head
before climbing down the porch steps.  I
walked past the abandoned train tracks, down the crickety farm road, and out
onto the highway.  I stuck out my thumb
and hitched a ride north.

 

 

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32 thoughts on “

  1. Some pretty hefty topics you have taken on there (ain’t fiction a great way to tell the truth!). And then a seemingly strange turn of events. How long was she with Bill? And why is she leaving?

  2. “You will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not”
    – Cat Stevens (Father and Son)
    The fires of youth die down under the immediacy of power bills and mortgages and the needs of co-habitators… I reckon it doesn’t matter as long as one can still find fun in life – whatever that may mean – chasing a dream or successfully running a household or raising successful animals or children or both. 

  3. I like to think the scene in Portland was just for me.  No, no, don’t correct me, I’m enjoying the delusion.  Good stuff, good stuff.
    RYC – Silly, it’s the angels above us who are silent notes taking.

  4. …i’m glad you worked that preamble into your story…the critics will say its awkward, that it rambles, off point…but i loved it…i’m wondering where the trust angle fits in…there must be something universal in that theme of the cowboy, riding into the sunset, one story finished, in pursuit of new adventures, and whatever lies around the next bend…

  5. North….the Polar Bear’s favorite direction.   He lurked in the shadows watching events unfold with his paw on his piece deep in his snow white trenchcoat ready for anything.

  6. r y c—————- KAZ INTERLUDE ————-Yes. Nachos grow wild here in New Jersey.I have a vine in my backyard.————– END KAZ INTERLUDE ————

  7. These caught me:
    “Is it harder to trust someone new, or to come to the shocking, painful realization that we have judged someone wrong, and they cannot be trusted after all?
    In truth, we are not so rational about it.  No test but instinct is applied, that and the simple expedience of opportunity.
    Still caught for a bit. Ow and wow.

  8. This is wonderful work. You’ve created some depth for the narrator, and a different, more seroius tone for the story.North, in my spiritual tradition is the direction of the earth – of grounding, planting, and reaping. North is stillness and contemplation, it is depth and darkness.

  9. Don’t trust anyone who says ‘trust me’ …..hey, if you type the word trust more than once it doesn’t look like a word anymore.  trust  trust
    To Rust! 
    Well, I agreed with all comments above so I just had to be different ….
    (ryc, yeah, we were both pretty wasted that night, no wonder you don’t remember….)

  10. cat power has a killer cover of come on in my kitchen.as far as robert johnson goes, i like me and the devil blues.’me and the devil were walking side by side/ im gonna beat my woman until i get satisfied.’that’s so dark.

  11. How strange to read this now. . .it is as though you were peeking in my head tonight, and added what you found to your wonderful story. How I relate to your narrator’s thoughts in this chapter. . .

  12. RYC – It isn’t that it increases the daylight hours but that it makes the daylight cover hours it has no business covering.  But I see how that wasn’t clear.  Heh.  Thank you for humoring me, by the way.  😀

  13. Amazing.  I wish I had time to read more than just the first several paragraphs of this.  I think I nailed it from the beginning, didn’t I?  So that’s where you were going all the time.  I’ll be back to finish, tomorrow morning.
    Trust.  Oh, yeah.  I was going to talk about our trip down into the Grand Canyon (which I mentioned in the blog where I wrote an anniversary poem for Barbara).  The first 10 minutes I was afraid to look at the scenery, because of the narrow trails down the edge of the canyon.  Then I realized that my safety was in Petey’s hands (well, his feet, actually) whether I wanted it to be or not, whether I looked at the scenery or not.  So I relaxed and just trusted that mule not to slip.  And enjoyed the ride.
    That’s what the first few paragraphs here reminded me of.  Funny how that goes.

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