« The Baja Trip: Day 4 - Tijuana to San Diego | Main | March Air Reserve Base C-17 Globemaster III »

August 1, 2016

Coins in a Fountain

I think that the desert makes you appreciate the conference room.

Like, normally, you sit here, as your life slowly drains out of you. And none of us are contributing anywhere near our true potential to this economy. None of us. Not one of us is even remotely close to contributing to the world anything remotely close to our true
potential. And you know that in every meeting you go to, as your soul leaks out at the corners.

I feel like I want to scream out. The same as I felt when I used to sit in church. I'm not good at sitting still and listening to someone drone on through a meeting, fluorescent lights in a teleconference, with an overhead projector. All of this is death, death, death.

It's all so painful. Sitting in a remote squalid warehouse in the desert in a timezone that's not your own, something inside of you thinks, "Not this. Check please."

And that is what the desert solves, I think. You enter into the Punta Prieta desert with all of these problems...all of the mental knots. You enter into the desert valleys with
angst and trepidation. You carry this burden into the desert - all of this baggage of deadlines and plane tickets and hotel reservations.

But once you get into the desert, everything sort of melts and fades away. All of these deadlines and questions and complexities. The desert irons them out. Simplifies the confusion. It makes things simple. Makes you glad ot be alive. Lets you feel your own heartbeat. Like you're your own doctor.

Like you're trying to save this pateint, and the patient is you.

There is nothing in the desert but death and pain. And you move carefully through the cactus mountains, certain that death lives in every corner.

Every turn in the desert is death and pain and sunburned exhaustion. Every guardrail is ripped from it's mooring. At the bottom of every mountain curve is a graveyard to smashed windshields, broken axles, abandoned wheels, and occasionally, an abandoned vehicle or two. On the side of every straight-away is a small roadside tribute to someone that didn't make the curve. Or feel asleep and ran off the road. A mute tribute to someone that escaped the desert the hard way, leaving this earth in a sea of pain.

Every straight-away ends in a mind-bending roller-coaster series of curves through the mountains. The 18 wheelers crawl up as slowly as a caterpillar. So eventually, you learn to just pass them going uphill on a blind curve.

Every roadsign is in the wrong language somehow, and my Spanish is not that good. I don't know what the roadsigns mean, so it's hard to really grasp their significance. I see the roadsigns, and just try to sort of look around, and pay attention.

They don't really give a motorcycle the full use of his lane down here. It's common for larger vehicles to intentionally cross the center line and take a little bit of the motorcycle's lane down here It's just how they drive. Different country, different culture.

It's easy to lose focus in the desert. You're just driving and driving for hours and hours and, in the afternoon, the heat is insufferable. You're driving down the road, trying to convert pesos into dollars, kilometers into miles, and liters into gallons. In the heat of the afternoon, you're sort of dazed and losing focus going 87 mph and suddenly, you realize that you're coming into a hairpin curve with an 18 wheeler coming down the mountain halfway in your lane.

Why is this world this way? Why does the 37th candy bar not taste the same as the first? It's always perfect, but no one talks about the temperature inside of the mall. Why is this? Why do we need the desert to make us tolerate the conference room? I dunno. I think that I will never understand. Only I know that it is this way.

It was the same as when I drove to Alaska. When I was lost and running wild up the Dalton Highway in the middle of the night in Alaska. Lost and confused on the Dalton Highway, low on gas, and full of fear. No one is as grateful to be alive as the man who has just cheated death....the man who coasts into town on fumes in broad daylight at 11:00 at night.

And make no mistake, that's why I'm down here. I'm rolling the dice. I'm cheating death. Trying to take some of the pain out of being alive.

The goal is that when you go into work on Monday morning, you don't feel like you wasted the weekend.

Every Monday morning, we fly into LA and meet up for lunch. Over breathless lunch, we share our stories...casting coins into a fountain.

Some of the guys went to a museum in Chicago. One girl went out in San Francisco. Another guy was hanging out in Ottawa. And now, it's my turn, and I'm telling them about when I drove a motorcycle alone through the Baja desert. And thinking that I'm talking about some long ago adventure, they're like, "When did this happen...that you drove through Mexico?"

And I'm like "Saturday."

And they all burst out laughing.

"Dude...you look like you got run over by a train. Do they not sell razors in Mexico?"

And for one weekend, I won the weekend story-telling contest.

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 1, 2016 at 9:26 PM


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)