Cross Country Motorcycle Trip Four! Abandonment to Divine Providence.

On May 12, the Lord willing and the Creek don’t rise, Big Red, my 2004 Harley Road King Classic, and I’ll be heading out on another cross country trip. My first primary destination will be Los Angeles where I’ll be attending my daughter’s college graduation. After that, all bets are off.

In my motorcycle novel, Hope Bats Last, the protagonist talks about abandoning himself to fate, to divine providence and seeing where he ends up. So when I leave LA, instead of having a route planned I’m going to try and listen to the signs and portents and discern my direction. Signs might come through a suggestion of a passerby at a convenience store, a dream, a detour, maybe just a feeling that I should take that road. No, not that road, that road.

You can put whatever name you want on where that mysterious guidance comes from. Is it Fate? Destiny? The Universe speaking? Is it the Tao? Wu wei? Is it the Zen Buddhist idea of living in the present? Is it Hegel’s the infinite unfolding of itself? Or is it God (as you may believe)?

The best description I ever heard of this process comes from Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s, an eighteenth century French Jesuit priest and writer, who folks believe wrote the book, Abandonment to Divine Providence.

“In the state of abandonment the only rule is the duty of the present moment. In this the soul is light as a feather, liquid as water, simple as a child, active as a ball in receiving and following all the inspirations of grace. Such souls have no more consistence and rigidity than molten metal. As this takes any form according to the mould into which it is poured, so these souls are pliant and easily receptive of any form that God chooses to give them. In a word, their disposition resembles the atmosphere, which is affected by every breeze; or water, which flows into any shaped vessel exactly filling every crevice. They are before God like a perfectly woven fabric with a clear surface; and neither think, nor seek to know what God will be pleased to trace thereon, because they have confidence in Him, they abandon themselves to Him, and, entirely absorbed by their duty, they think not of themselves, nor of what may be necessary for them, nor of how to obtain it.”

It’s kind of a mixture of Kerouac’s Dharma Bums and mystical Christianity, but on a motorcycle.

I’ll keep you posted.

Day 20 Continued: Seaside, Oregon to Bandon, Oregon; 240 miles. Mo’s restaurant; Kerouac; Your Vision.

Day 20 Continued: Seaside, Oregon to Bandon, Oregon; 240 miles. Mo’s restaurant; Kerouac. Your Vision.


Jack Kerouac:

And I said, “God, I love you” and looked to the sky and really meant it. “I have fallen in love with you, God. Take care of us all, one way or the other.” To the children and the innocent it’s all the same. – Dharma Bums

I feel this so often when I’m driving down many of the roads in this USA. Especially today, while Big Red and I made our way down the coast of Oregon. Last night, before leaving Seaside, I had a walk around the town, a drink at the Irish pub and went by the beach. I spotted at least 17 small fires flickering in the sand and the rolling waves illuminated by the moon. Then there was the scent of the sea and the fantastic aroma from the wood burning fires. All of this made it hard to leave this morning.

The ride down the coast was filled with small towns like Rockabay and Garibaldi, views of the Pacific and white beaches, and curvy roads through fir scented forests. It was fun to lean and slalom into the curves. I stopped at Newport and ate at Mo’s, a rightly famous seafood restaurant. I had the chowder, and steamed oysters which were the biggest I’d ever eaten.

Back on the road I started checking out motels. For some reason in Oregon on Memorial Day weekend everyone goes to the beaches. Everywhere had a no vacancy sign. I finally rolled into Bandon and saw a vacancy sign at the Lamplighter Motel. I’m really not going to say anything bad about the motel because (lowering my voice) I think the room is listening.

Kerouac wrote about traveling the USA in his books Dharma Bums and On the Road; Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I’m not a Kerouac, nor a Robert Pirsig by a long shot; neither are you. But I am here to tell you that the roads can be discovered again by anyone; their beauty, wackiness, and their healing powers. You just have to trust, believe that your vision, though unclear, is as good as anyone’s, and let go.

Map update: