Smoking Mirrors – September 8, 2011
Dog Poet Transmitting…….
May your noses lead you into green pastures beyond the end of the road.
The end of the road lies somewhere down the road; you never know where that is or when you’re going to get there but you do know when you arrive. Things may change in front of you and there may be nothing more in front of you but the significator will definitely be in the rear view mirror. Through the windshield you may note abandoned houses, broken toilets and grazing cows. It might be a frozen lava flow and that’s never good news, given the smoke in the distance, whose location can’t be fixed. It could be white sands. It could be black sands and it could be red sands. It could be Tom Cruise running down the road in Vanilla Skies. It could be anything. It’s what’s happening in the rear view mirror that counts.
The first time you notice that you are getting close to the end of the road is when you look in your rear view mirror and see that there is no longer a road behind you. What that means is you can’t turn around any longer. You probably didn’t notice when the road disappeared, no one ever does. What you notice is that all of the things you are seeing in your windshield are now in your rear view mirror too. Sometimes the side windows are fogged with mist and you can’t see anything at all. Sometimes it’s smoke, as if you were driving through a brush fire and sometimes you can see out of the side windows but it’s more of what now is showing in the rear view mirrors and through the dashboard.
Usually when you are getting near the end of the road you begin to think you hear music playing somewhere. It’s not coming from the radio or CD player because that is never on when you are getting close to the end of the road. Maybe you turned it off shortly before or maybe it just stopped playing on its own. This is something you can’t remember, no matter how hard you may try. It does sound like music is playing somewhere and you finally figure out that it’s playing in your head. In many cases you can intuit what the end of the road is going to look like because of the soundtrack and this is the point where a lot of people look into the rear view mirror and notice that the road is gone.
You don’t need food anymore and there isn’t any sex at the end of the road, so that takes care of two of the major distractions of your life up to that point. For some there is an awful hunger and longing that is very much like what used to present itself, when one of these two things was on the Future Exit Menu but you know it isn’t either of these things, it’s for something else that went missing at the same time the road disappeared from your rear view mirror.
In many cases the end of the road has that late night Greyhound bus station vibe. There’s weariness and low level anxiety. There’s the distinct impression that the end of the road and the highway that took you there are still visible but only inside your head and the bus station effect makes the images return again and again like a runaway Rolodex. The Rolodex makes you think of all the people and opportunities that were going past the side windows on your way to the end of the road. This adds a haunting ache to the whole diorama of empty houses and grazing cows. In some instances and especially these days, the cows are not grazing. Even though you’ve never been to the end of the road and even though you may have been to the end of the road many, many times but just can’t remember from one time to the next, somehow you know there should have been cows grazing there, the same way you know that something terrible happened to the cows but you can’t see them at the moment. You know that whatever happened to the cows has something to do with you and you’re pretty thankful for the spinning Rolodex, although the low level anxiety has definitely increased since you noticed the cows were missing.
Now that you’re at the end of the road, you’re getting these flashes that you had noticed the road was changing behind you but you just didn’t register it at the time. It seems now that the road had changed from macadam to gravel and then to a dirt track. You’re not entirely sure about this but you can’t shake the sensation of actually having seen it happen. Along with this you’re getting other flashes and sensations about all sorts of things from the past that happened but you didn’t notice them at the time. You are only noticing it now. Some of these things seem like they were major events and screaming possibilities of all kinds but when they occurred they were very much diminished and more like distractions when, in fact, they were life changing experiences that didn’t happen.
You’ve got a lot of time to think now, in some cases and in other cases there is the pressing sense that you have no time at all and thinking about anything isn’t going to do any good. Some of you are probably going to explore some of the abandoned buildings in that case and maybe sit down on one of the busted toilets and have a cigarette and a beer but the cooler is gone from the car and you can’t find your tobacco. In all cases you realize that this isn’t what you wanted, it only felt like it was. It doesn’t seem all that strange to you that so many things are missing or that you are missing something you can’t identify because part of you knows all about it but the connection is bad.
Maybe you’ve gotten out of the car by now and it’s certainly cooler or warmer than you expected. The sun is behind the clouds and it feels like it shouldn’t be as warm as it is, or the sun is shining but it’s so much cooler than it should be. The thing you notice the most as you get out of the car is not the climate but the sounds inside your head. It isn’t music anymore and you realize now that it wasn’t music before either. It’s the rise and fall of a great number of voices. It’s like being in a quiet park somewhere in the middle of a large urban complex, when the wind will bring a sweep of sounds to your ear and then carry them away as it shifts in another direction, however, there isn’t any wind blowing at the end of the road. You can’t make out what any of the voices are saying but they are definitely saying something. You can feel the emotional impact that they contain but no matter how hard you try you can’t make out what they are saying.
Once you go into one of the houses you are hit with a wave of nostalgia, as if you’d been there before but you’re pretty sure that’s not the case. Still… everything is a lot more familiar than it should be and surprisingly, the inside of the houses are not abandoned at all. True, there are no other people but it looks like there were others here only a moment before. The inside of the house is as vibrant and animated as the containing walls and various objects could be. It’s the exact opposite of the outside appearances.
You haven’t been there very long. You don’t think so anyway but you do realize that you no longer have any sense of time and it’s altogether possible that you have now been there a lot longer than you think. A lot of what happens after this depends on what part of the end of the road you wound up in. You’ll have a good sense of what to expect from the unexpected by how you feel. Some of you will be feeling better than you would imagine given your surroundings and you sense that it has everything to do with being at the end of the road and the fact that with the road gone, everything that might have troubled you is also gone. In other cases, the road being gone is a terrifying concept but you haven’t got a clue as to what to do about it.
One thing eventually dawns on everyone at the end of the road and that’s that they aren’t feeling any different than they were feeling when they were back on the highway, before the gravel and the dirt track, it’s just amplified now. All kinds of things that were competing for the attention, or in place to distract the attention have been removed. The rise and fall of the voices has a hyper reality to it. It seems inexplicable that you wouldn’t be able to tell what they were saying, even though you know what they are saying and just can’t make the connection to the part of yourself that understands them.
You realize that you’ve been at the end of the road for awhile but the environment only just caught up with you now. It’s amazing how quickly it happened. It’s like it happened so very fast that the first time you saw it was in the rearview mirror and yet, it took a great deal of time. It seems like one should get to the end of the road well before they get to the end of the road and they might never have reached the end of the road at all. Of course, where one road ends another road is sure to begin, even if it is not a highway like the last one you were on.
I’m reminded of my enduring motto at this point, “Leave good footprints”. Those of us leaving good footprints are the very same people who found out what happens when you don’t and took it to heart. It’s got everything to do with the end of the road and the beginning of whatever follows that. I think it was Bilbo who mentioned what can happen when you step out of your door and into the road; how the road can sweep you up and take you anywhere, even to the gates of Mordor.