Has the heat gone to my head?
Here in the plains, what I thought would be the boring, loneliest stretches of road, I am having a blast! Tulsa was one of my favorite stops, which I will write about, but for now, here is the stuff going on inside…
I just want to share with you what its like a day in my head and heart. I haven’t really spoken that much about the people I am meeting and the conversations I have about Peace. I usually post about the road and adventures and then hit the sack. Oh, and I upload hundreds of photos into my Flickr stream to keep the photo blogging alive and interesting.
The past few days of traveling I have experienced something-and its every bit as exhausting as it is joyful. In the past, Kansas or Oklahoma were places I went through to get to other places. Most everyone I know says the same thing. I grew up in urban/suburban areas were buildings, light, and population density comforted me. Today, its the sight of terrain stretching for miles to meet blue sky that comforts me. A place where soil fights a scorching sun to yield the most harvest of grain and wheat out of any other state. It’s a place of sustenance and survival. I appreciate it differently now, maybe because I am at Peace. I don’t need require the same distraction and stimulus that used to seemingly comfort me. And I am surely learning how to entertain myself for hundreds of miles. I am feeding myself. And when I pull into a place, others feed me. I have a feeling of both fullness and emptiness and I contemplate cycles like this. Like having Peace even in times of conflict.
So, after three weeks on the road, I am gonna break it to you: people often have a hard time defining Peace when I ask them. Which brings me back to why I set out on this journey. Having understanding and ownership of a word, an idea, or a metaphor is empowering. If we can’t define it, how do we embody it? If we don’t understand vocabulary, we use a word out of context. I find that people often assume Peace is only the opposite of conflict. It’s one or the other. I discuss conflict a lot with people. It’s dangerous to define Peace only as the absence of conflict-we couldn’t really ever obtain it, right? How do we create room for integral thinking? Are Peace and Conflict really two entirely separate cycles? Or is Peace the mind set that allows us to navigate conflict, that creates viable solutions despite differing opinions?
I met Ben Hutchinson today in Newton, KS.
I came here via a tip about the Mennonite Church, who are known for their stance on peace. Ben asked about my scooter, I told him about the trip and then interviewed him. He defines Peace as the opposite of war, but not the opposite of conflict. We agreed that conflict is inevitable. But war is not. He believes that conflicts can help us grow and that Peace is the strategy you use to foster the growth. He sees War as total dominance and that it establishes power over another; there is a victor and therefore a subordinate. How would War (or dominance) possibly create Peace? That would be like beating your wife or child for obedience-it doesn’t resolve the difference of opinion-it just ends the conversation. Whereas resolving conflict is oriented towards creating power with, resolving something together. Isn’t that what you would want to see at all levels of living, personally and societally? And is it impossible to accomplish a shift in thinking? Or is the majority of our culture just doomed to be stuck in a paradigm of binary thinking? Dominance/Subordinance. Boss/Peon. Christian/Non Christian. Gay/Straight. Female/Male. Alpha/Beta. Rich/Poor. Republican/Democrat. Bad/Good.
This black or white thinking, in every day living, does it truly reflect reality? A team might lose a game and still win the championship. Lover’s quarrel. What is it that keeps them in love through the conflict? A dialog? The working through of differences to see similarities, to find common ground? Why must we only trust our lovers and family to have this type of thinking? How can a Christian scorn me because I don’t have the same lifestyle? And how can a Christian believe in War? Or racism? But, they do.
Basically, I have been at this coffee shop for four hours now. By the way, I wrote a whole entry already, only to have it deleted (holy crow). It was a lot better than this one, because I do it really well once, not twice. Anyways, this entry is just a tiny viewfinder into how I spend my days; I think, I drive, I listen to amazing personal stories. Don told me a lot, we talked for about an hour, about many personal things. He thinks peace can be used like a verb in the same way that love can. Love starts as an inner feeling and then you show it to another; you love them. While I might not ever use the expression, “I peace you,” I get what he means. It starts inside and you offer it outward. Like the seeds here in the fields, from sowing to reaping, from Kansas to your table. But you can share it, despite differences, despite rough times, despite sadness, or conflict-you keep your eyes on something better and work towards it.
That’s what Peace means to a few people…..
I spend my time riding, thinking, and meeting strangers. Today I came up with some alternative names for P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER: Blowin’ in the Wind, Blown in Kansas, The Tightest Mulhabanda that Ever Was, I came close to Climax, KS-but just missed it, I am working on Good Posture by Scooting 10,000 miles Tour, etc.
Seriously though, I have never been this far from home, for this long, alone. But, surprisingly enough, it’s not loneliness I feel…it’s a combination of contentment and trepidation that everything is happening both par for the course and yet totally derailed. Today I am at the center of the Peace sign in Salina, KS. I have come 3,333,9 miles (you bet) and I have feel more welcomed here than I could have possibly imagined.
This is Alix, reporting live from the field(s)