The pic above was taken near Haines Junction, Yukon Territory.
By the time you’re done reading this, you’re gonna think we are cray cray.
Who is this “we”?
Oh. Me and my dad.
See, we got this problem… We like to drive. A lot… Long trips… A lotta miles… Cross country…
And we don’t like to stop.
Can’t won’t don’t stop.
There was that time in ’99 where we drove from Los Angeles to Huntsville… Nonstop. 2023 miles… The sun came up in Arkansas. We stopped in Florence, AL at a Burger King and wobbled out of the car. I still remember the look ya girl gave us as we ordered. That evening after we woke up from that drive, we went bowling…
There was that time in ’04 when we drove from ATL to Santa Fe… 1381 miles… Ho hum… The sun went down in West Alabama. The sun came up west of Weatherford, Oklahoma.
Then there was that time we drove to Alaska in 2010. The Alaska trip will be a post of its own one day… But…. That trip had its own brand of cray cray cuz ya boy (Christian/Sci-Fi Theologian), his pops (Buddhist/Mystic), and his uncle (Muslim/Mystic) pulled some mad miles (km) on 2-lane roads through mountains and around wildlife and religious terrain. (After that journey, I came to realize that all three of us are beyond the categories of a stock understanding of “religion.” Those previous parentheticals after our names represent the general cartographies of our faiths, not their destination.)
Of special mention was Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to Dawson Creek, British Columbia… A mere 1404 km (842 miles) on a 2-lane road!!! That’s like driving from Princeton, NJ to Atlanta, GA. Luckily, we drove in the summer and the days were long. The sun didn’t set until 12am (or later).
That Whitehorse to Dawson Creek was preparation for the final leg. We drove from Calgary, Alberta to the Bay Area. 1459 miles. Left at 5am and got home at 2am. But we beat the sun… Although we were welcomed back to the United States by a white gentleman from Montana who felt the need to pull up next to my car, make the gun symbol with his hand, smirk, pull the trigger twice at us, then speed off …. Lovely… Yeah… But we left at 5 am and got home at 2am and we beat the sun!!!
That’s called a Pyrrhic victory, y’all.
Aside: every time I encounter the phrase “Pyrrhic Victory” I always see this in my mind…
Writing this out makes me feel like I’ve got a few loose screws. Well, I got ’em honest, eh Dad? This place is crazy.
Miles measure distance between spaces… But space is inextricably bound with time. And what these miles show is uninterrupted time spent with my Dad. In order to make these trips, it is readily apparent that–no, not that we are crazy!!!–it is readily apparent that my dad and I love driving and enjoy each other’s company… Although after that Alaska trip, we all needed to be quarantined from one another… Cuz… Yeah…
Those road trips are time and space coalescing into Phraoah Sanders’ songs; religious, political, and social discussion/debate; (auto)biography; gazing at the natural beauty of the world; and solitude and silence.
In all our trips, 4 Pharoah Sanders songs were surely played: The Creator Has a Master Plan (quite frankly, one of the greatest songs in human history. No lie.); Colors, Olé, and Heart Is a Melody (Hiroko’s Song)…
The first three songs are canonical for my Dad, who (BTW) is unquestionably in the top 0.5% of Pharoah Sanders’ fans. But Heart Is a Melody is often slept on. Sanders uses Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” bassline and riffs some smooth improvisations. But the lyrics and vocals make the song. “Heart is a melody of time… A melody of magic we spark in time….”
Those trips are accompaniment sheet music, but the melody is in the heart, in the improvisation, conversation, and silence. With every heartbeat, time passes, mileage accumulates, and the melody of me and my dad continues on… From ’99 til today and on into eternity… From SoCal through Gallup NM to the Dirty South, over continental divides, through glaciers, plains, the Rockies, high desert and the Sierras… Our song has been heard and felt… To the edges of the universe. Mundane and extraordinary. A son’s love for his father, and father’s love for his son… A Journey to the One with the Two
Can I get a witness? Pharoah, gimme an “Amen” like only you can.
Faith, hope, and love
©2016 M. J. Sales