Whole Again

Dear Friends and Family,

This is it.

This is the end of the trip.

This is the end.

I have tried to write and re-write this blog post many times tonight, trying to capture the feelings I had that day. By now, I have had more time at home in Virginia than I had on the road, and I still haven’t processed all those feelings. I may never, to be perfectly honest.

How are you supposed to feel, in any one type of way, about an experience which encompassed your entire being for so long?

How are you supposed to reflect on the past, when you have spent most of the year living completely presently?

How are you supposed to know if your feelings are sincere, if the body of your experiences cannot be put into coherent thoughts, memories, ideas, blogs?

Can you know something you cannot feel?

Can you feel something you cannot know?

These are the questions that grew within me as I waved goodbye to my parents on September 6th, 2023. Most of the rest of that world had breached that Labor Day precipice and realigned with the present. Spencer and Alexis were already back at school. The boys from up north had more or less all returned to work. Dad was making up budgets for the next year at his job, and Mom had pulled down the duvets from the linen closet and onto the beds. The leaves weren’t turning yet, but you finally conceded the inevitability that they were going to. I conceded to the end of the trip in much the same way.

I got an audio log going on my phone and recanted to it all the places I’d been and many of the amazing stories from along the way. I talked for four and a half hours, nonstop, no breaks; I skipped half of Ohio and all of Pennsylvania (thank God) by yammering away into those headphones. I didn’t mind missing those stretches of I-80 and I-76, which I have already trodden dozens of times in trips to and from Michigan. It was just about the only day in the trip that I didn’t have to open Google Maps!

And I closed the audio log when I got to the present moment, right at the time I crossed the Maryland state line. That’s the photo above, it’s that long, beautiful descent down I-70 out of the Appalachians and back to the Piedmont. That road must have been built on purpose at such a perfect angle, with no need to touch either the gas or the brakes. You just descend, like a cloud, back into the rest of your life.

It’s the last photo I took in the whole trip. It didn’t feel like it. I hardly believed it could be done, neither the feeling of the thing nor the thing itself. Both were too large, both contained too many multitudes. Words failed, and fell away like miles beneath my four wheels.

Indulge me, dear reader, in a thought experiment. Imagine the last “biggest thing” that happened in your life. The last thing that completed awed and overwhelmed you, the last even that consumed every ounce of mental energy you had, the last time you lived completely presently with no care or interest for the past or future. Do you remember where you were when it happened? Do you remember who you were? Do your memories capture every precipice and pitfall, every joy and sweeping elation of that experience? Do you remember living it? Or even, remember how you lived through it?

It is no fault if you do not remember one detail, or all details. Perhaps memories will fade (perhaps you will be grateful that they do), but even when they do, you still lived that experience. Your time and place and actions are carved into the granite of the immemorial, forever and ever. You have existed within the world, completely uniquely, wholehearted and heartfelt.

And in doing so, you were perfect. You existed as God at the dawn of the entire universe: no pasts, no futures, only all-encompassing presents. The great, heaving chains of cause and effect had yet to be forged, you were unshackled from casuality and consequence in the center of all creation. The tree of eternal life – no, truly the tree of life eternal – it boughed and swayed and threw upon you shadows and sunbeams as you stared upwards into its magnificent crown. You were dazzled and awestruck by the visions it formed upon you, how the rays of light all arced from heaven, how they all orbited forever and ever around you, in the center!

And you gripped to its bark and climbed, and climbed, so that you would know the beauty and the magnificence at the top of those limbs and branches! The knurls scraped and cut you, they scoured your nakedness from head to toe, they pinpricked and pockmarked your self with pains and agonies and realities and you fell into the Earth, over and over, but still, you climbed! Reaching, grasping, racing into the eternity of the heavens! You were unstoppable! You were infinite! The branches, their diameters were harrowed and skinnied away, they passed beneath you as limbs, as arms, as fingers, as hairs so thin, until all were gone! And you breached through the very last firmanent of leaves into the crown of the tree of the life eternal! And you basked in the golden eternity of the present, you screamed your overwhelm into its sunlight, and you laughed deeply and sincerely in its warm and silent nights, and you reveled in its forevers and evers, oh, my friend, how you were healed and made whole again with the whole world!

You were present, you were infinite, you were everything, you were forever. You were not a where, or a when, or a how, or a why, you just were.

That is the continuum in which our experiences exist, yours and mine. The nature of an experience is a cruel and solitary binary, it is either the entirety of the thing, or it is none of it. Either you are in the experience, or it is over with. Your memories are some fraction that exists between.

And so, at the end of all my miles, at the end of all my worlds, at the end of all these wonderful experiences, I just was. My experiences are not memories, they are not fractions of any greater truth; every time I return to them, I am blessed to live them all over again, whole in me and whole in the world.

Dear friends and family, that is how I felt at the end of all my rambles, as I pulled onto Prince Street, into the very same parking spot I had left all those days ago: whole again. I was present, I was infinite, I was everything, and I was forever. Once, forever, and for all: I am whole in the world.

And I couldn’t be happier 💙

That’s all,

Stay well everyone,


Evan 💙