How can I not write about my pack, my burden-my needs-my failure from before. They all think I'm nuts all this weight on my back. "It's harder you know. How do you do it? Why did you do it?" I smile not knowing exactly how to answer. Do I give them a witty response? Most people shy away from the sobering truth of things to occupy their minds with unimportant distractions.
Short entertaining stories of adventure is what they crave. So that is what I give them. I paint over the truth with grand gestures, making them actors in my stories until, eventually, they feel a part of my experiences on the road. They laugh and ask questions. They start to turn thin with boredom. Now they too have a story, "The Stranger on a Mountain Bike" riding across the country with a huge back pack.
Black and radiating heat from the sun It can hold no more inside its seams More weight is added strapped tight around it increasing the burden Increasing the weight Bringing its bearer toward his fate A tarp and tires, tools and a fishing pole. Excited by attention the story compels the listeners to ask questions and laughter thinning with boredom. Tell us another. Like kids around a campfire. Tell us more of this man. They can't, you see They don't know the answer. The pole for fishing, tires for his bike The tools for fixing and the rest I don't know why. Maybe all of these wrong. They are only the glint of your sunglasses that keep you from seeing my eyes. It is everything that should be nothing The nothing that beats you to the ground The nothing that makes you forget why you are around. It is heavy, it is cumbersome, it stinks of memories and sweat It slows my progress but I can not let it go yet Without its weight driving me, I would slip into the mud I dig into it every day dealing with its contents, most of which I wary of A chance not to unpack it, if only for a day Gives me peace in pretending it's not there. Nothing weighing on my body, my soul, my mind for a moment I can breathe freely and stretch without its bindings that so reluctantly relinquish their hold on me Standing back, cut away from this giant black tumor. Starring at it as if knowing it would begin to speak, adding yet another reminder. "Why take me off? I will always be here. Here for you. I have food that will sustain you. I can clothe you when the cold eats at you. You know you need me just like I need you." I hate your logic, your manipulation of fact I can not argue, not yet, not now. I need you for another reason you have not thought of yet Not even a brief consideration by you. That you would make me strong. I am stronger every day and see the even greater experience pass me by due to your weight. Yes, you weigh me down, but not like you used to. My feet nailed to the ground no more. You grow to compensate. Increasing the load, but you underestimated me from the start. I chose to take you on. I decide what stays in and what comes out You weigh more than the beginning because I am hauling you about
I've thought about leaving you stranded in your own helplessness but I am not quite done using your torment of me to make me stronger I will carry more to remind me. It will be harder than before and I will handle it all The pack sits quietly. I look down at it knowing it feels my glare. Quiet. No sound but a creak or a moan from the plastic buckles and nylon straps. Now I stand freely with my pack on my back. Perhaps it is best I don't try to explain the truth to these people. They wouldn't understand what I live with every day. That's fine. That's okay.
At least I know the difference From before First it was weakness Caring, carrying to much Now I choose to grow stronger from what I've had to do, and did, undone So I ride A long disappearing road. Slipping into thin air thick with heat I drink it into my lungs struggling to find oxygen in all that humidity. Not wanting to breathe any more because it's so thick like trying to swallow down medicine that sits in your throat choking you with it's healing power. So I drink it in and swallow hard Trying to disregard The desert sand in my throat Sweat pouring out of me like so many tears of a broken heart I need to replace what I've lost Hot water flows into me. Hot like the sun that changed its worth. It stares. It glares. This sun wears on me, but not like the weight on my back...
So I ride.
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