awoke in the corner of my tent wrapped warmly in my sleeping bag. As I began to
move I felt the stiffness settling into my limbs from riding. Walking out of my
tent I was crouched over and limping. I took my time packing my tent, carefully
trying not to strain my tight back. Doppel came back from the riverside.
"Another beautiful day," he said.
"There's something very cleansing about Canada's summers. How's that
bum knee today?"
"Sore knee today but it should iron out. Pain is one of those things
one has to live with."
Aristotelian of you."
"I remember that year you couldn't walk," I said. "I know you know
about pain." We seldom discussed his arthritis during that year he couldn't
walk, I wonder if the scar tissue in the ankles bothers him. Both twins taken
down with a limb-related illness.
"It was more like two years."
"Weren't you on crutches for twelve months?"
"About that, but even after I ditched the crutches I was limping pretty
badly for another twelve. In the mornings getting out of bed was the worst
time. Sometimes it took me a few minutes just to stand up. But one morning the
pain just disappeared. It was two weeks shy of two complete years. That was
exactly twenty years ago."
"Has it bothered you since then?"
"The odd time, when I'm overtired my ankles and toes stiffen. It's just
like an old injury."
"Ever worry it may come back?"
"Well, yes. If I were to become sick or run down, it could return but
this time it would be longer and more permanent. But if that's my fate then I
accept it. We are all lily pads partially eaten by some insect that lives
around the pond, eh?"
"We all get nibbled."
"Pain reminds the Viking-Poet that he is living. And maybe through his
exploits can attain freedom from his pain. If he can immerse himself so deeply
into his flow, his zeitqualia, that he loses his sense of pain and
actually skims atop the earth using his momentum to overpower gravity. Perhaps
there is qualia in his pain."
this zeitqualia again, what is it?" Hand on my chin.
being in the marrow of the moment, the point zero of incongruity and the flight
of least turbulence. It is the full manifestation of being in the now, sliding
on the wet ice of time."
but what I mean is, is it a sensation?"
Kant calls it ‘intensive magnitude' or a degree of influence on the sense. He
believed perception contains sensation and that a magnitude of apprehension
causes increased intensity in the sensation. By removing the translucent glass
protecting you from ontological reality, perceptions clear, become in touch
with the raw texture of adventure, the movement, the strategy of conquering,
the mastery of elements. There is a synergy you get, a high, from the act
itself. So many choose not to undertake exploits and they lack the essential
zeitqualia elements in their lives. That's the point."
then this whole thing is a Crusade? You're a Crusader?" Irony thick.
could say that. It's a Crusade to enlighten those still slumbering, whose
instincts are drowsy, and who have forgotten the thrill of adventure. I care
for my fellow man despite the fact that he is sickly."
you think I'm sick?" That laugh again, felt good and sad. Most genuine laugh I
have ever heard, as if he were trying to stifle it.
was packed up so he checked the air pressure of his tires, tightened his brakes
with a quarter turn of the micro-adjustment screw. He checked the rack before
he put his tent on it and discovered one of the screws fastening the rack onto
the back frame had come loose. So he took out a square-head screwdriver from
his tool kit and tightened it one-and-a-half rotations.
say this was the source of the rattling over the bumps yesterday," he said.
Since he was at it, he put his bike upside down on its seat and handlebars and
oiled the chain lightly with more Phil's Tenacious Oil. As he rotated
the pedals the chain flowed smoothly almost without sound or friction, the
thick protective oil covering each link in the chain. His Miele mountain
bike was in prime shape.
is curious to find so many behind bars and locked in their jail cell by their
own hand," he said. "One of humankind's most comic traits is shown by those who
self-censor their own spiritual expression and development through the constant
and perhaps uncontrollable repression of their true person. It is a fortress of
self-censorship that imprisons countless people the world. It very well may be
a more punishing form of imprisonment than physical incarceration."
I loaded the tent and my bag on the rack, I climbed on my machine and began
riding along the smooth, freshly paved road by the waterway.
a while I wondered if that comment about self-censorship and imprisonment was
directed at me. I was a brother who had shut him out. I had lost touch with my
compassion and with my instincts, so he saw me as sick, not quite a 21st-century
man but certainly not a full man.
with the current of the St. Lawrence getting close to the Quebec border. The
eastern peach warmed the morning air as we cycled past cozy motels littered
along the Parkway near Maitland. A plaque:
LIEUT.-COL. THAIN WENDELL MacDOWELL,
V.C., D.S.O., 1890-1960
Born in Lachute, Quebec,
MacDowell moved to Maitland in 1897. He attended local schools and graduated
from the University of Toronto in 1915. During World War 1, he enlisted on
January 9, 1915, in the 38th Battalion, C.E.F. On April 9, 1917,
during the battle of Vimy Ridge, assisted by two runners, he captured two
machine guns, two officers and seventy-five men. With the vision of the enemy
obscured by a turn in a passage in the dugout, he was able to convince them
that he commanded a vastly superior force. His action eliminated a serious
obstacle to the gaining of his battalion's objective, and he was awarded the
British Empire's highest decoration for valour, the Victoria Cross."
I took a swig of water and
let it all sink in.
like our own Sergeant York," I said.
"Good example of someone who thrived in the art of exploit execution.
Remember an exploit is when one can see ones own worth, whether mediocre or
filled with modest greatness."
"A good war story."
"Well, that's it isn't it? We don't have wars to fight - not our
generation. So this is our battle: the choosing and the excellent
execution of exploits."
"Well, without the outlet to exploit, a man with passion will implode
from lack of use of vital sensibilities that make man full."
"Addictions and whatnot.'
"Abuse like that, yes. Give a man a battlefield or playground; it's the
same thing. But playgrounds can be truly unique, like the mountains of Taiwan
or the rugged beauty of the St. Lawrence Seaway. But exploit or war, it's the
same ancient codebook of behaviour that springs into play. The important thing
is to expend that energy so that the organism may grow."
"A snowballing action."
"Precisely. It snowballs, both in abilities and from the inner glow
of accomplishment. Part and parcel with the accumulation of creative
achievement is the fervor and flush of what I call infinite goodness.
The outlet of expression is compassion you have for others. Over time the
snowballing glow spills over creating an urge to spread the goodness around.
The act of giving is poetic; so manifesting this action only adds to the
richness of ones brush. "
don't know how you did that."
"Howie adapted quickly after that dangling episode off my thigh."
"She did have excellent balance at the end."
We rode until we came to the town of Prescott. We were about halfway to