Tonight I shepherded twenty students down to Little Rock to attend a lecture by Joel Salatin, renegade farmer. The lecture was plenty entertaining, and the students were enthusiastic. But riding back on the bus in the dark, all I could think about was the feeling of the many bus rides I took when I was their age and younger.
The rattle and the darkness, the roar of the engine, took me back immediately to bus trips like the ones I took during winter break with the fellow members of my high school glee club. Driving through the long dark evenings from stop to stop, sitting with my best friends, listening to my Walkman, and staring out at the night ... it's an indelible feeling of being alone with my thoughts.
I've always been able to hypnotize myself by unfocusing my eyes and letting the moving scenery outside a car window blur into impressionist colors. At night, though, I follow lights, idly wondering what they are or making tentative identifications. Meditating on the moment's emotions, I feel like a teenager again, the owner of a rich inner life unknown to those whose cars and houses, twinkling with light, I pass.
It's a strange feeling to return to that immature -- yet deeply felt -- stage. I'm reminded that having a rich inner life is also about doubting yourself, not knowing who you are. But retreating into reverie while riding through the night is a pleasant fantasy, an escape to a time at once simpler and much more complicated.