“It isn’t by getting out of the world that we become enlightened, but by getting into the world…by getting so tuned in that we can ride the waves of our existence and never get tossed because we become the waves.” ― Ken Kesey
The other night I watched Magic Trip, a documentary about Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters, and a bus trip they took across the USA in 1964.
The trip was filmed and recorded on audio tape by those who took it. A memory captured which could later be reviewed by those who shared it and also viewed by and shared with those who didn’t but could do so vicariously.
The trip kept going even after it was over, it created a momentum, a wave with more and more surfers joining in to ride it, everyone eager to be a part of something which others were a part of and seemed to be enjoying, until the wave was obscured by bodies, the bodies became the water.
Then one day Kesey realised that for him it was time to get off the bus and the wave.
“You’re either on the bus or off the bus.” ― Ken Kesey
That particular trip was over, the wave had crashed against the shore, ended, been absorbed by the land.
The part which stood out the most for me was when Kesey described the moment he knew it was over for him.
A group had just taken the bus out for another trip, they had been staying on his farm in Oregon, he had decided not to join them and instead stayed put. As he checked his property after they had gone, he noticed a nest in his hayloft with blankets and bits and pieces left behind without a thought, in the centre was a candle which had been left lit and had burned all the way down to the hay.
That candle and the potential it held within it to burn his farm to the ground made him see things differently.
“. . .sometimes reading the same page over and over, until one sleepy afternoon something clicked, like a lock unlocking, and she saw those printed doors swing open on a vast house of words.” ― Ken Kesey
It was a small detail, but within it it held a whole. It was a seed whose plants he was fairly sure he didn’t want growing in his garden.
“Plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom.” ― Ken Kesey
It’s the sort of small detail which if you tell someone else about it, they’d wonder why you were making such a fuss about something seemingly so irrelevant.
It is because it is small that it is big. It is relevant because it seems irrelevant. It’s because others don’t think it matters that it matters.
People are good at covering up what they think others will notice, things which they would notice, but not so good at hiding what they themselves would not notice.
Those atom-sized truths which can’t be lied about.
“…if they don’t exist, how can a man see them?” ― Ken Kesey
It wasn’t the first detail which had drawn his attention to it, but it was the last one which caused a giant shift.
He created a sign and placed it at the entrance to his farm for when the bus returned with its passengers which had the word – No – on it.
That was all.
That was enough.
Time to move on.
“Because sometimes the only way to keep from losing everything is to give everything up.” ― Ken Kesey, Sometimes a Great Notion
I have many memories which are significant in one way or another, which range across a whole gamut of emotion and thought.
Some are shared, as in others were there and have their own memories and versions of what happened and didn’t happen, of whether it was happy, sad, or otherwise.
We see things from our point of view, the one we had then, and the one we have in the moment we recall a particular memory.
The colours of the present often colour the past.
“Sometimes I looked at them and sometimes they looked at me, but rarely did we look at one another.” ― Ken Kesey
Some are memories which belong to me alone because no one else was there.
And then there are memories within memories, something private, a snapshot of a moment when your world and even the memories being made in that instant changes.
You spot something small and it becomes big.
It make take a while to realise you’ve noticed something so tiny, but as you do it comes into focus and becomes a key which unlocks a story.
It’s the last piece of a jigsaw which, when it falls into place, allows you to see a whole picture, it shows you a truth.
And once you’ve seen it clearly, you can’t go back to the moment before when it was still unclear.
You might want to, but if you could you probably wouldn’t.
It’s an idle regret which isn’t a regret at all.
And it doesn’t matter if no one else can see it…
“It’s the truth, even if it didn’t happen…” ― Ken Kesey
I love those moments when the small detail stands out and becomes a key which opens a door which was once locked…
Memories of those moments are memories of thresholds crossed into a new world of perception.