Unsteady Thoughts

These are the unedited thoughts of a man dehydrated, under-nourished, and reflecting upon his decisions and life from a tent on the roadside, the night before a momentous ride into the heat and wind of the Patagone. They are not particularly well-written, but well reflect the state of the man and how the heat and wind and sun have changed his body and affected his thinking.

They will say it makes no sense and they will not understand and they will not want to try to understand it. To choose difficulty above all else, insecurity, poverty, loneliness, hunger, debasement, and to wander ever closer to death’s threshold they can understand, but only in the context of the experience being sold. But to have no profit motive for this dangerous decision--to refuse to sell this experience at any price, this remains incomprehensible to them.

Because everything they do is for sale and it is foremost their time that they are selling. They will trade years of their life for an amount of money. They will give up their youth and their strongest years in the service of another. They will buy insurance and plan for a retirement. And so they will not be able to understand a man who chooses not to sell his youth but to live it out dangerously, and to keep this experience for himself and to refuse to sell it.

It becomes a self-less act finally, and it only concerns himself. He does it to show himself that it can be done. Because he cannot make clear to them who sit and stay in their homes and trade their time for money; he cannot make it clear with the language they also use of the pain of the road late in the day and how it overwhelms him; the sun is low in the west and in his eyes and how it has burned his skin because he has run out of sunscreen; how his water supply is dangerously low and he is only drinking a sip every 10 km to conserve it; and how the wind torments him and slows his cycling to a crawl.

Yet he does not curse the wind. The wind is his companion. He will not ride through Patagonia alone because the wind will be with him or against him, the wind will be present. The wind stops at night as he does, and the wind and he awaken in the morning. They will go together, some days as combatants, some days as comrades, to the south.

A writer writes to publish and to sell books. A painter paints to hang his work in galleries and to sell it. A trader trades to amass dollars. Another man moves freight in the night for a large corporation. The accountant does another man’s debits and credits. To do something for money, whatever it is, is careerism. It is all the same. A man sells himself, his time, and the best of his talent for an idea of security.

You will have to pay incredible amounts (or nothing) to see these works and to read them. And this money will be given to my mother, who will hoard the money and not spend it and she will not give it back to me until she dies. Then the State will give it back after taking its cut. The careerist will say this is a stupid plan, that I should keep the money and avoid the tax. But I say this is the only plan when it comes to money. For an excess of money is a poverty of the spirit. An excess of money will insulate my life so that nothing happens and no adventures are possible and I will be able to buy my way out of any difficulty and danger.

Things stop happening to the man with money.

He will no longer take the risks poverty and hunger and insecurity forced upon him and he will think this new, predictable life superior and his fellows will congratulate him on his success and women will tell him how responsible and respectable he is and some will encourage him to make her a child.

If you have it and cannot get rid of it to your mother, then go where money does not work. In Patagonia you will find such a place and you will find yourself with little water, a deep uncertainty about which way the wind will blow tomorrow and how strong your legs will be. You are on the Patagonian plain, a desert-like area of scrub and thorn bushes and there is no shade from the sun.

You are still many kilometers east of San Antonio Oeste. You rode hard today into a terrible headwind and stupidly believed the map which said there were three towns along Ruta 3 where you could purchase food and water. But those towns existed once and exist no more and now you have dwindling food supplies and only enough water for 45 km and you have at least 70 km to the city. You remember the long shower you took with the water bladder the night before, and now you think of all that potable water wasted and how you need it now.

But these are the days you have chosen and asked for and now you have them. These are the challenges you knew were possible and now you will see what your body can do. You will test your spirit and you will look even deeper than you looked today if tomorrow the wind blows harder and all the water is gone.

They will say then that I have risked everything for nothing. But is it not the other way around? They who sell their strongest years for a wage--is it not they who have risked everything for nothing? For it is I, and not they, who understand exactly what I risk and exactly what for.

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