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Excerpt From No More Waiting To Die 


 

The Great Pilgrimage

 

            Bypassing weakens but engaging elevates. Neglecting moments limit the depth of emotion, and rejecting possibility hinders the power of creation, but stepping forward enables enlightenment, and partaking in the scrum fosters and fortifies. To embrace is to strengthen and improve but to ignore is to deflate and decay. To create is to build and grow but to destroy is to injure and impair. To consider stirs imagination and possibility but to refuse causes regret and resentment. To say yes brings fortune and opportunity but to say no castrates and beguiles. Hope fosters and fuels but despair cripples and defeats. These were Noble's thoughts as he faced a new day with fresh lungs and windburn on his cheeks.

            The roar of the waves crashed and skirmished against the force of the moon in the early hours of daylight, coughing up a spray leaving an unmistakable chill. The sun, slow to rise and break free from cloud cover, hadn't yet warmed the air that left even the keenest bodysurfer tepid of the morning dip. Is not a swim designed for midday?

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            Noble slept long hours for many days, wiped out from the rich oxygen of sea level, drugged into a stupor by nature's own hand. He spent less time with his pipe and more time relaxing on the sand, choosing to swim and walk rather than freebase and party all night. He settled in with his Kit Carson biography and was mesmerized by the man's abilities and impact on American history, finally embittered by Kit Carson's unjust fate of falling off his horse at the age of 58. He was at the peak of his powers and had just brought the might Navajo Indians to their knees without firing one bullet.

            Mark the Irishman was going to get back to him about staying in his empty hostel to act as a property manager and policeman, but the idea didn't pull him in because the hostel was on the strip and beside the heart of the nightlife. With no mosquito net and filthy with mould and dead insects, the room was the opposite to his current room at the hotel, clean and well lit and void of equatorial bugs. Sure he was dying but he didn't want to be struck with the fever of malaria or dengue, two common afflictions to visitors to Canoa.

            His knees were brown with bruising, noticeable when he walked down the strip in shorts, something a tan couldn't hide. But to Noble that was window dressing, not important to him in the slightest. What troubled him was the debris he was coughing up. So severe was the gunk that the fourth day he found blood. He knew that the disease had started on his lungs and that it wouldn't be long until he would suffocate from dead cells and collagen. It scared him to the quick but he put his chin up and refused to bow under the fright it caused. The taste of it reviled him, and caused him to think of returning to Quito where the thinner oxygen likely slowed down the spread of the nuclear antibodies because there was less oxygen to fuel the flames of destruction.

             He wasn't afraid of surfing but he did know how rough the surf was having been thrown around in the whitewater when he went bodysurfing. He had lost thirty-five pounds since his diagnosis almost six months ago, his chest now concave and his ribs defined like the tent on a wagon wheel. If he contracted Dengue he would be dead within weeks. With his immune system weakening each day, the chances of getting one of the countless tropical diseases here on the water increased, something that made him uncomfortable. And having so little meat on him the water was cold, which made bodysurfing more a chore than an event of joy. The sun seldom shone, at least not as much as in Quito, instead the overcast skies hiding the warmth of the sun, the wind and moisture creating a chill by the water that made him shiver. He didn't want to let his illness dictate what he did but with him coughing up blood in the denser air of the coast he had the tangible evidence that it had taken hold and was doing its best to destroy his organs. He knew he would die in Ecuador and that he would not tell any of his family, except for his sister. There was nothing back in America for him except memories of being stifled and impatient with the slow passing of time.

            Coming to terms with the reality of his physical condition changed Noble. He saw the surf as violent that brought fear into his heart. It was feeble of him to cower at the power of Mother Nature but he had to face the fact that he was diminishing, his own power waning with each passing day. His hands were frozen like a claw, fingers unmovable and fingertips dry and hard and lacking any sense of touch. His clothes were baggy on him and pants falling off his waist. Even with many new notches in his belt he couldn't keep his pants up. He even started growing a beard to hide his bony face. The Pacific Ocean had become a constant trumpet warning of the dangers lurking below the surface and beyond the break, the thundering and uncensored brutality producing shards of fear in his gut. He cringed at his own weakness and grew fervent to overcome his fear but he knew Mother Nature's power was greater than his, himself being only a part of her grand plan. The riptide in the crashing soup menaced him now, a monster waiting to pull him down and away without a witness. He felt small and helpless in her yaw, cold and scared, like an old man in the face of a typhoon.

            There was such a sadness in his heart that he didn't move from his spot on the beach for some time, letting the rain wet him and the wind chill him, as he profoundly respected the forces of nature, morose that he didn't have more time to explore her mysteries. He knew it would be something he would miss. He ruminated on the irony of finding this haven in the world that he had seen before in the landscapes of his dreams, only to be too ill to savor and enjoy it. He wasn't bitter but rather grateful he had found it and experienced its special vibe, thankful he had chosen to come here from reading the signs.

            He sat for hours and pondered his life. He thought of the Dane and the good times he had had in Quito, missing that camaraderie and the security he felt from the love of friends he had made on his own in the last six months, a new life opposite to his old life in the States. It was the saving grace of a wasted life, a balm to his person from the ramifications of taking the wrong path chosen using emotion rather than wisdom. He had wished he had read more books that could have inspired him to choose a path where others feared to tread, and taken advantage of the canon of art that emoted through stories and works of art about the tragedy of mortal life, and songs of love that celebrated the joy of having fun and feeling safe. He had always been a little boy, no one around who cared enough to make him snap out of it and take the first step to becoming who he was. He had stopped when an obstacle was insurmountable, not knowing he could have gone around it and kept forward working on a solution to overcome it with his own hand. He had been a man who had remained a boy, an insecure voice demanding respect but lacking the grace that came from empirical knowledge, a man-boy with a flaw in his life philosophy, mired in his own immaturity.

            He had been lonely, as if through choice, preferring safety and softness to the rigors of the scrum. The unavailability of sharing had been the cause of silencing the sugarcoated lips of Reno, an emoting vitality that thrived on sharing his wit. Instead the ghost of indifference, the most unwanted of all dispositions, cut him off from his audience and atrophied his tongue. He had castrated himself, soon withering on the vine so that he prayed for rain rather than hoped for sun. He could have followed the voice of Reno the philosopher he heard speaking sometimes, the slow diction and tenor of a sage, prompting consideration to change and provoking new thoughts that threatened his belief system. But the paradigm shift never came, the flush of courage never came to his cheek, and the adventure that lay hidden behind the door was never had because the door was ignored. He had never reached his tipping point, to change and evolve, to face the hardships of an original life, and to ignore cynics who cut your legs and watch you stumble on your outlandish path towards oblivion. He never taxed his character arising from challenges and obstacles, and never traversed alone knowing the transitory nature of life.

            He wondered if there are not two worlds that co-exist, side-by-side in time, one world full of those on their Great Pilgrimage to find the answers to life's mysteries, and those who never left their cozy nest mired in their inertia and unwilling to go forth. Two communities of peoples living according to different principles and interpretations of the compass, different orientations on opposing poles only overlapping along zero latitude. It had taken a fatal disease to push him out of his community to the other side where people grew flowers and went to bullfights, drove like rally drivers and flew helicopters, and created religions and drilled for oil. Unique in aspect and novel in form, it was an eccentric and strange world of creators and explorers long accustomed to the tougher gravity and bumpier ground that was the playing field of the Great Game.

            And who were these people who lived in this world of the Great Pilgrimage? They were producers of art that inspired man, people of insight and opinion, unorthodox and unsung in frayed collars, forgotten and overlooked, yet totally immersed in the Powerful Play. They were the lifeline and lifeblood, people of sincerity and patience, founders and builders, visionaries and scholars, and providers of sustenance for the universal spirit and at home in their anonymity. There were unwavering in purpose and self-belief, dedicated to their dreams with infirmaries untended, carpenters and painters impervious to skeptics, originators and teachers of knowledge and craft, who laughed and waited for the rest of humanity to catch up. These were Noble's thoughts as he savored the sunset and rose hue behind the clouds, grabbing his knees to ward off the Pacific offshore chill.

 

  
  

  

 

  

 
 

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