“And the moon rose over an open field”

I drew a card for my journey and it was Death.


Transformation. Rebirth. The death of the ego. A leaving-behind-so-something-new-can-grow. A letting go.

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A point of no return.

“Kathy I’m lost” I said, though I knew she was sleeping.

Leaving behind the deep, familiar-feeling greens of Oregon for Idaho at nightfall, fitful sleep, maybe just a couple of hours in total, through the darkness of that unknown state to Utah, to see the sunrise outside the Greyhound station at Salt Lake. Climbing, climbing into hostile snowy mountains, this was not what I imagined Utah would look like.

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22 hours in. 33 to go.

Then Wyoming, home of cattlewomen and a post-apocalyptic landscape that makes me imagine the Yorkshire moors, if they were on the moon. Patches of snow here and there, scrub, the railroad tracks always beside us.

“Toss me a cigarette, I think there’s one in my raincoat.”
“We smoked the last one an hour ago.”

The bus driver, who is named Arthur, talks to himself. But through his speaker, so we can all enjoy his meandering monologue. This morning, a man told him he was being followed by the mafia. Arthur advised him to fight back or die, but this man was a runner, he wanted to run.

At rock springs I was ready to explore Death. In the cold dirt behind MacDonalds I drew three cards.

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“What IS this journey?”

The Moon, The Fool, Three of Wands.

A strange adventure, the beginning of something new. Three cards I’ve seen before in the run-up to this trip, but here, together, they feel clearer.

Death wants me to learn something – to embrace the letting go. I’m still not sure of what. Something to be transformed. Something I think I know. The importance of surrender. Surrender of facts so that feelings can flow into the space they leave.

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We all know that Death is the transformer. We all know that when Death appears, the deep call to change must be answered, that it is a healthy and natural process.

I am here to be changed. I am here to surrender. I am here for people and tarot and motion and earth and hell knows what this will do to me. The point is to let it. The Moon – there is no plan. The Fool? I’m happy with this, Faith is something I have by the sackful. And the Three of Wands? Quite possibly my very favourite card. This *something*, that’s been bubbling away inside me since last October when I began writing to a disparate community of strangers, might be ready to take form. But only if I let it, by handing myself over. Every time I think I’ve done that, I realise there is still a little more of me clinging on. I’m not sure what to, I’m not sure what for, but I know I have never yet fully surrendered.

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Sometimes you gotta take it away
to bring it back again.

Will it be today? Right now, eading at 70 miles per hour from Laramie to Cheyenne, huge sandstone tables on the southern horizon and surrounded by cheerful, weary and talkative travellers?

Will it be tonight, flying through Colorado on a near-empty bus, city lights of Denver vanishing behind, formless settlements glittering across a distance I can’t fathom, guitars crashing in my ears?

Will it be waking up tomorrow in Amarillo, 1800 miles from where I began this journey, finally packing away winter layers for Texan warmth ready for another day and another 500 miles?

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This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go.

Simon and Garfunkel, America
PJ Harvey, Memphis
Emily Dickinson, After great pain, a formal feeling comes


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