Saturday, July 14, 2012

Joy Rising

As I drove "Persistence," the white Chevy van, down highway 40 through Arizona, I passed a town with little gas left in the tank. For the next 50 miles, up and down the long stretches of highway, I anxiously watched the gas gauge go down below the red line. In desperation, I typed "gas" into the I-phone and counted down the miles to the nearest station. At around 6:30pm, I got off at exit 66 and rolled to a stop at the stopsign. The last drop had just burned away and the truck station was about 150 yards away. After 10 minutes of embarrassment and haphazard thinking, I walked toward the station and a man walked toward me. "Can I help you?" he asked. I said, "Yes, my van is out of gas." "Lucky for you it ran out so close." He sat in the driver's seat and put the van in neutral while I pushed Persistence into the station. "Where can I camp for the night?" I asked. He said there is a campsite right up the road. "You can stay with me if you like. I live 5 miles back up the road, five miles down the exit, and 5 miles up a dirt road into the hills." This seemed rather far, so I said, "Let me check the RV site first." So after filling with exactly $99 worth of gas, I drove toward the camping place. The window was open, and I heard the rattling and clanging of the tire below. I stopped and discovered the bolts  were falling off, and I needed help. So I went back and said to Charlie, "Yes, I'd like to take you up on your offer." "Ok, my name's Charlie. Would you like to stay to watch a movie here?" "Sure," I said. And so we sat next to one another in the tiny theatre in the station and watched Stakeout. Great movie. Charlie hadn't seen a movie in a month, so this was special. Then I followed behind his truck through the dusty windy roads to his home deep in the desert mountains. It was a scary drive. The home had no electricity or running water, but he had brought barrels of water home. A border named Howard lived here with his own dog named Precious. Charlie introduced me to his cactus garden and showed me the dead generators outside. Moon was high, lighting up the distance mountains. It was a beautiful 20 acres of land that Charlie owned. That night, I slept on the bed in Persistence, and woke up right after the moon had set. Charlie and his 2 dogs were about, and they took me on a tour of the beautiful landscape. Never had I experienced such appreciation for desert beauty. Then Howard made pancakes and we sat at the table. Howard placed a large pool of melted margarine in front of me and a jar of peanut butter and some syrup. It was a feast for kings indeed. "We haven't been able to watch the TV because we have no electricity. And it takes money to fix the generators." "Well, I've got a generator, Charlie. Would you like to use it to run the TV and VCR?" I had bought a high quality Honda generator for $540 off of e-bay recently to charge appliances inside my van, Persistence. Charlie agreed, and with one smooth pool, Charlie got this little generator whirring happily away. He plugged in the TV and VCR with a cable he had found on the side of the street and turned them on. This was the first time they could watch TV since 2007 when Charlie first bought the land. "Well, since it's July 3rd, let's watch "Independence Day." So we sat in front of the TV watching Will Smith on TV. I petted the dogs, and Howard told me a story about how his dog shows love. An hour later, I said it was time for me to be on my way. Before Charlie could unplug the generator, I said, "You know, Charlie, you both can benefit more from the generator than me. Why don't you keep it and I'll pick it up if I return?" Both Charlie and Howard were happy. They hadn't had electricity in a long time. And it was really special to watch a movie in celebration of Independence Day. Charlie led me back to the main road, and I gave him a hug before I rode away. It was a bittersweet parting. A few hours later, I sent a text to Charlie, "Hi Charlie, In CA. All is well. Just learned van has cruise control! What a gift. May you always see joy in life, Charlie." He texted back, "Well the joy of life brought U to me. Now see what U can do to make the world better." Then Charlie texted a picture Howard had taken a couple months back of the moon rising one morning. You can see that one above. with love, Brian


  1. Thoroughly I enjoyed this happening alongside from your recollections and couldn't but smile as the threads gathered together in the end.. Go(o)d journey Brianji and many encounters to expands your ever-widening vistas in all dimensions, along the way! Aum Shanti....

  2. Hi Brian!!! It's your friends, Barbara and Joe (Bharani & Shantideva) from Ananda Ashrama in La Crescenta!! What an amazing story... the photo is amazing - it made me laugh out loud, the story about the generator is amazing. What a gift you are...what a gift life is. There is so much beauty in life - especially when we're connecting one person at a time. Vivekananda says (and I'm pharaphrasing here) that we think of ourselves as separate individuals - very 'different' from one another. On the spiritual path, we try to come to the place where we can see beyond those differences and see each other as 'one' in Divine Love. Vivekananda says that this is backwards: That we first must see ourselves as 'one' in Divine Love - when we can see ourselves as "one', THEN we can see our differences in a different light - with love and compassion.

  3. oops... forgot to add; "love you Brian!!! Have fun! love, Barbara"