Life—A Patient Teacher, Especially For Slow Learners

Drinking Coffee At McDonald’s In Gaylord, Michigan
Aug. 22

Biking the Trans Canada, on my way to Sault Ste. Marie, was just what
I expected it to be—horrible, but the condition of the highway was good and
that surprised me; however, the traffic was heavy, and some of the trucks
were not sympathetic to the bicycler. I ran off the road twice. I
can’t remember the last time that happened. I’m not sure if I’m losing
my nerve or if the trucks were really that bad. I arrived in the Sault
under pouring rain around 6 p.m. I had been fighting a head wind all
day long, and I was very tired.

I needed a place to stay, so I went to the University. Lake Superior
State University was accommodating. I stayed in their dormitory
guestroom for $5.50. That’s where I met Tom. He’s a musician by
trade, hitchhiking his way to Toronto. I felt better after a shower,
so when he suggested that we go to the bars downtown, I was up for it.
Well, we met a couple of girls, and one beer led to another until the
bar closed. Tom left with his girl; I wasn’t so lucky.

I went looking for my bed, and wasn’t sure how to get there. I finally
stumbled into my room around 4 AM, but not before I scared the heebie
jeebies out of the poor woman who was walking in front of me. I was
trying to figure out how to get back to the university, so I tried to
catch up with her to ask directions. I didn’t notice that the faster I
walked the faster she went until it was too late. She ran into a house
where there was a party going on, and, as I passed that house, I was
greeted by some of the guys who had come out on the porch to ask me a
few questions. I basically told the fellows my situation, and I guess
they believed me because they gave me directions to the university.

Early the next morning I woke up irritable. After straddling my
bicycle seat, I wanted to be anywhere except peddling into the cold,
damp, weather. I was mentally and physically wasted, and all because
the night before I followed my nose from beer to another. The beer did
all my talking on that night except for that tiny little voice in the
back of my head that kept repeating, “You should be sleeping, and you know
you should be sleeping.” Life is a patient teacher, though, especially for
those who never learn. I didn’t even like the people I was with. The
only good that came out of last night was my resolve not to repeat it.
Anyway, I will remember my Sault Ste. Marie “night out on the town” as
one of my many, many, unnecessary mistakes.

After three or four hours of morning biking, things got better. The
sun came out and the wind was at my back, not to mention that I was
getting closer to home. I still had a hangover, though, so, as good as
it got, it could’ve been better. By the end of the day, the beautiful
lakes, streams, and countryside, not to mention the sparse traffic,
all went into the feeling of reverence that I experienced on that hill
just outside of Wolverine. As I have already noted, that campsite was
especially nice. This morning, however, I awoke to rain, and lots of
it. And, since this is my last official bicycle day, I have chosen to
ride in it. My parents are expecting me home by late afternoon, and my
visiting cousins (I have been informed) are sticking around until I
get there. This rain is the worst I have bicycled in on this trip,
and it doesn’t appear as if it will let up. All I can say is that in
another 50 miles I will have a warm place to dry out. That is a good
thought, and the best reward!


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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