Bent Words

Bent Words

September 06, 2007

“I understand now the contempt the man of action feels for the man of words.”

(And yet the tongue is mightier than the sword.)

And, sometimes, we have not the power to reach out for the body – only the soul…

So, please, if for only a moment, follow the arrows back to my heart.

It had been hours since they first left the shop. They began with the sun shining high in the sky, armed with stacks of 9X6 orange, cardboard squares – each with a black arrow in the middle – and they ended their journey well after midnight. He was so intimate with the route that neither of them had expected the task to take so long and they were both well beyond weary by the time they returned home. Still, none of it seemed like work. Every mile held a deep sense of genuine purpose; each stop filled them with an exalted pleasure and every arrow pinned to every post meant that they, too, no matter how insignificant they had seemed, could truly make a difference.

The route for the September 11th Benefit Ride had been planned, for the most part, in his head. Road names, accompanied by exact mileage turn for turn, were organized later via maps laid out on her coffee table. And although it was their project, their initiative and their goal, it was ultimately an entire world that had come together with strength, compassion, dutifulness and love. It was a contribution of the masses, an undertaking that made more sense than anything else ever had and it was, even now, beyond all power of mere description.

The proceedings to the event were a blur. The roads that morning were replete with fog and the two of them could barely see further than the distance they encompassed with their bikes. Their face shields were heavy with dew and their clothes were damp with the anticipation of the morning sun and thus they could not complete a successful pre-run of the route. Instead, they decided, they would sit down to a breakfast they could barely eat, just hoping to calm their nerves enough to make it through the day.

At first, the starting point at the Expo Center was rather sparse with bikes. Then, before their eyes, the crowd of bikes grew – Suzukis and Hondas, Kawasakis and Yamahas, Harleys and Ducatis; customers and fresh faces, young and old, faithful and just out for fun – they were all there. Many more than the two of them could have expected. Raffle tickets were handed out, prizes were slated to be given away, three bands were setting up inside the Expo Center readying themselves to play once the ride was complete, news crews interviewed (who knows who!) and the parking lot was filled to capacity.

It was pure beauty. And rather chaotic.

Rather than exert more energy than necessary, they decided to play ‘sweep.’ They rode off after the last bike had left the parking lot and took their time playing catch up. It was exquisite, riding side by side or she just behind, being together, doing what they each loved to do, being able to justify that passion for a greater human purpose, twisting and turning with the winding roads and knowing that it was genuinely significant! It never was better than that and it was an event that they each knew, later on, would never be compared to.

It was the coexistence of cruelty and community, the mingling of tragedy and triumph, the coming together of passion and remorse, the combination of confusion and duty, joy and sadness, life and death – it was all this and much, much more. All wrapped into one unforgettable day, one eternal event and two interminable hearts. One purpose, despite the distance. One hope, despite all the tribulation. Conquerable only because they could see so well within each other’s soul that they truly and completely became one.

One determination and one unbending feeling surrounded by a thousand arrows all pointed toward the same direction…

And now, when she takes that same route, though perhaps not always, she looks closely and carefully. She scrutinizes the road signs, examines the route, pans over the skies and searches for those orange squares – hoping to see just one. One that remains. One that has not been weathered by the years, torn by the winds, ruined by the passing winters. She does not see them with her eyes. But though the physical proof that they had once surpassed the unexpected is no longer, the reality of it still remains. She sees it with her heart. Feels it with an importance and a passion far greater than all powers of mere description. Forever embedded in their being, forced upon their sporadic memories, written upon the soul of every man, woman and child – it is there for all to see.

And it is, as it will always be; remembered deeply and never forgotten.

Written at 9:58 p.m.