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Hieronymus Bosch: The Healing of Madness (Circa 1494 or later)
"We were always traveling a OneWayRoad."

This drive felt really different. Prior trips, The Muse and I carefully planned both legs, there and back again, before we departed. Then, part of my brain never lost awareness that we would soon be leaving again, that our exile would be restored after that brief respite. This time, we left with no intention of ever returning. Even Wyoming seemed welcoming without the threat that we would soon be going backwards crossing it again. Even beleaguered old Denver looked less threatening without the certainty that it would soon have us in her clutches again. Even the barren Early Spring Prairie seemed forgivable, for we were out of there forever. In the future, we will be in and out of everywhere but where we're intending to be SettlingInto. Future excursions, rather than home then back into exile again, might be no less circular, but they should center on our center rather than upon some remote-seeming periphery.

There are only OneWayRoads.
That opposing lane belongs to others who also only experience their direction and no others. The rest amounts to anticipation, expectations of what might come within some future. The sense that we're fated to return seems both innate and a little crazy, since even the ancients understood that the same river, even the same road, couldn't possibly exist. Even exile, which seemed to separate us from ourselves, left our selves intact. We came back but discovered the place we left had left us, leaving a curious replacement whose dimensions seem similar but the content shockingly different. We were apparently traveling into some future and not merely back home for some SettlingInto. The Settling might well become a life-long occupation attempting to tackle the question, "Into what?"

I seemed to flit when in exile. Nothing I did seemed to carry an ounce of permanence. My long-term goal was HeadingHomeward then SettlingInto without overmuch concern about what might happen once I arrived, presuming that I most certainly would arrive. I left more often, as John Gorka insisted, than I ever came back. I came back less and less over the years, finding the unavoidable return trips too painful to plan. Whatever outward bound turbulence I might experience, I'd anticipate the same on my return trip, as if I was destined to always repay some debt incurred when leaving to return. Returning seemed a long-around way of leaving again.

This time, this traveling with the full intention of forever after SettlingInto, included no return trip ticket. Of course the place seems different from what we'd imagined it would seem before we arrived. It hardly even feels like home yet, more resembling yet another exile than our new home base, but that's us, not it, supplying those feelings. I expect that we'll be forever SettingInto it, but this future seems fitting. We've replaced that flitting with a future promising extensive retrofitting until, I guess, we ultimately discover ourselves here. Or not. Yet this place now serves as our default destination, no longer a way station on the road returning to anyplace else, as if it ever didn't. Yes, much effort lies before us, but when did it not? The one saving grace in the whole experience might be the suddenly sure and certain absence of that return ticket. We're no longer a satellite operation orbiting our intended destination. We're here now and grounding. There never was any other destination, and we knew it. We were always traveling a OneWayRoad.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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