I’m hundreds of miles north of the town where the fish ladder was. In a few hundred miles I will arrive at my final destination. Driving the open road is wonderful for contemplation. Walking it would be even better, but I don’t have the time. I have to get there and look for a job. Family and good friends are waiting at the end of the road. My award-winning wife is waiting to sell the house until I have a job. I miss her. I miss my cats. However, it’s still a romantic experience driving on and on for hours. Mountains with snow and massive clouds reflect the sunlight. The prism of precipitation showers shards of color down upon the traveler.
I stopped for lunch at a café in a small town. The town has a main street, and a business district of about eight square blocks. On the wall of the restaurant was a large navigation wheel, one fit for a full-sized ship. Next to the wheel was a framed paper presenting the story of how the wheel came to the café via a retired local sailor who got it from an officer in WWII, who got it off a famous enemy battleship. That’s the story.
One of John Ford’s best late-period films is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. The film is a beautiful elegy for the inevitable passing of untamed frontiers as they become “civilized”. In the film James Stewart looks back on his past as a lawyer in a Wild West town prior to statehood. From long-suppressed guilt, he reveals to a journalist that he was NOT the man who shot Liberty Valence, though the fame of that incident had been the basis for his political career. The newsman closes his notebook and says to Stewart, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
People need stories rich in meaning to make their lives bearable. I don’t think it matters that much if the stories are factually accurate or not. There are deeper truths that have nothing much to do with facts. The fact that the enemy ship mentioned in the legend was sunk and hasn’t been recovered doesn’t determine the value of the story. People in a town of 2000 residents are able to look at an impressive object they would not normally encounter, while they take an hour off to eat, enjoy good coffee and dream a little.
The wheel also gave me the chance to dream and reflect. I’m on the road, looking for my bearings. I’m trying to navigate my way into uncharted waters. The wheel is in the shape of the Great Wheel, the wheel of life in Buddhism. It’s the symbol of karma and continuance, a geometric representation of “What goes around comes around.” The lessons I have learned will allow me to recognize the correct route through the rocks.
Nobody has won the “Where’s Mikey?” contest from the previous post yet (see Looking for the Ladder), though Cat came pretty close. The prize of a FREE post, written by Mikey as a PROMO for YOUR BLOG remains unclaimed. I’ll give you two more cryptic clues:
1.) Look up the meaning of the term RED HERRING.
2.) Try to think like Sherlock Holmes (as played by Basil Rathbone). The answer really is elementary, my dear Watsons…
The answer will be revealed on Feb. 26th, unless someone guesses it first.