Have you ever heard of the Electric Tambourine Marching Band? Me neither 'till just now since I made it up. But it sounds like fun, don't you think? Want to join? We'll go on tour and make our fortune on the road.
I was driving down the freeway the other day and saw this behemoth of a hippie bus -- a smoking, dirty, beat-up hulk of a thing. The faded script across the side said, "Underscore Orkestra."
It looked like the kind of bus that could really take you places -- the kind of places we all want to go but are afraid to speak of. The wild, gas-guzzling, whiskey-drinking, scantily clad, music-making sorts of places that good people stay away from.
Turns out the Gypsy jazz band was headed for Reno, but they're based in Portland so maybe I'll have the chance to see them perform one day. With a traveling rig like that, they can't help but put on an awesome show.
At my high school graduation benediction way back in (eeck!) 1986, I read Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Less Traveled." I know it's a graduation standard, but I've always loved that poem and the words have always rang true. I don't always recognize which way to go and there are plenty of times I have to turn around, but my priority is certainly never finding my way to "somewhere."
Over the past few years I've come to believe that it's best to avoid any roads altogether. Out in the woods, it's much more fun to veer off completely and go scrambling about. Of course the poison oak rash on my thigh is a testament to the dangers of this philosophy, but in my mind the itch is worth every last scratch -- simply a pesky reminder of a fine, fine day of exploration. And when I came upon a cool, green mossy rock in the oak forest, laid my weary head against it and took a deep breath of fresh, sweet piney air, nothing between me and the sky but sky itself, I felt a certain confidence that this off-route jaunt through the forest was indeed the one of most resistance.
Upon that rock earth-wrung water sprung from basalt and wound down my spine, binding me to the stone. Light roped across my wrists, the big red sun warming me to the bone after a long grey winter. A dusky winged owl swooped low through the trees. A doe bounded through the ponderosas. I floated there and dreamed of being marked by a wolf, flown to the edge of the cosmos, wafting in the breeze on the back of a small winged seed, and riding on a wave to a place with laughing and dancing and strange, unusual customs.
Three roads diverged in a wood and I took the one never traveled by.
Photo: Tambourine Man
Painting: Isis by Gemina Ferrari