Monday, June 8, 2009
Riding across the plains, empty of all but desert scrub and dirt, the miles dissolving on the asphalt beneath. Far away on your horizon to the right, you see a thunderhead looming like an anvil into the sky. A few minutes later, still miles ahead and 20 degrees off center, a wall of water falls from the sky.
Nearer now, the wind picks up and starts to whip you around on the road. The deluge stays to your right, but nears with every mile that passes. Dust kicks up now from the fields and slaps across the road in front of you. Lightning arcs through the darkening sky ahead, the air heavy and pungent. A dust cloud rises just ahead, a terracotta funnel that blows by a quarter mile to your right.
You feel tension rising, the inevitability of this moment unfolding before your eyes. A raindrop now, then two on your windscreen, and you tense up heading into the looming storm. Dark clouds drop and roil overhead, and the rain comes down in sheets. There is nowhere to pull over, no shelter: nothing but flat earth and ditches rapidly filling with flood water. The wind, in full storm gusts, blasts in your face, and though full throttle, your bike feels as though at standstill to the road ahead.
And now the hail, marble-sized pellets crashing into your helmet, your chest, your hands. Stinging and ricochets scattered like manna across the drenched highway. The thought occurs that maybe you won't make it through this, and then other thoughts: of those you've hurt along the way, the ones you've left behind, those far away who need you most. You hold them there, bless them, and then let go.
The regrets, you let those go too, and accept that this is where you are and there's no way out. That's when you notice the beauty: a web of lightning crackles and dissipates right above you in the angry clouds, a rainbow column hundreds of feet tall rising up from the dark turmoil of horizon, the jets of mist spraying in all directions.
And then a sign, the first in many miles, an exit to a picnic area one mile ahead. You pull off in the driving rain and lightning, run to the nearest overhang and kneel underneath the concrete table in a puddle, the wind still buffeting all around.
Now you let go of it all, trembling uncontrollably, tears lost against the rain-soaked jacket. And there you learn to embrace the tragedy and destiny of each moment, as they reflect in drops of rain falling and magnified a thousandfold.
Time falls away as you wait there, unable to move, staring at the ground below. Gradually the rain lessens and then stops, and you are able to move again, out and across the soaked and flooded earth.