100% All-Natural Content
No Artificial Intelligence!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

616 days later...

Oh be nice!  I'm just a blogger.  It's not like I'm George R.R. Martin or anything...

Journeys of self-discovery don't lend themselves well to blogging along the way.  That grew apparent in Dallas where was made the most recent entry of this strange chronicle now fourteen-some years along.  An abrupt a hiatus was never desired: with a graphic parodying the fad of the hour, made in our hotel room, air conditioning cranked to the max as Tammy the Pup and I waited out the 115-degrees of afternoon sultriness.

Attempting to document everything about this journey, predicated from the start on following God's lead no matter where or when or how He did so, became an exercise in futility.  It wasn't...  and it still isn't... about the minutiae.  It's something else.  A deeper quality.  It is a virtue that cannot be known without taking that first step.  It is an unnamable quality of introspection and self-questioning wrought into being by Providence through the places and people and predicaments and peculiarities that come about along the way.  Dare take a respite to record it all for something like a blog and you miss a beat, lose a rhythm, let a moment rife with potential slip through your fingers.

So I stepped away.  For how long, I didn't know or even care to know.  There was always the intention to come back to The Knight Shift: lumps and all a labor of love for the past decade and a half.  I had no idea it would be for THIS long.  But it had to be this way.  Returning any sooner out of blogging's sake would have been a taking away from the experience.  Would have been that much less that I would have allowed God to work with.

My focus as a writer, as a historian, as an observer of the world around me, has always been toward trying to see the bigger picture.  But I had never turned that same focus onto myself.  My own life had been a thing episodic.  Perhaps because...  I didn't see my life as having any significance in the larger story?  It had been a piecemeal work.  Just accepting whatever I could as it came along.  Being thankful for the portions of good that had been allotted me these last several years.  Hoping.  Waiting.  Praying.  For something better.

When you have come to the end of everything that you are, there are two choices left to you.  Wait to die.  Or break free.  The way of one is of comfort.  The way of the other is uncertain.  One is safe.  The other, perilous.  One is a slow and lingering death, of the spirit if not of body.  The other holds no promise of happy life, yet embodies the essence of life itself.

One is to trust in nothing at all.  The other is to take a leap of faith... and thrill to see what happens next.

After everything that has happened in my life over the past several years, and despite what some family wanted, I made a break for it.  Escaped.  Took off and didn't care where to.  Didn't even know what the end result would look like except that I desired purpose, happiness, something of my own that could not be found where I was.

That most will never dare such a journey is an enormous tragedy.  But I don't know if I chose this or if it was chosen for me.  More than once I have learned during two decades of being a Christ-follower: when God wants you somewhere, He will do anything and everything to maneuver and manipulate you into a situation where you have no other option but to move a certain way, go a certain direction.  It may not be the easiest path in life.  But it certainly is life and life abundant that is promised us.

On the morning of June 12th, 2016, Chris Knight and his dog Tammy set out in a Toyota Camry.  It was packed with bare essentials for what was intended to be a search for a new home.  Clothes, a dog food and water dish, pocketknife, iPad Pro, Boy Scout compass, and a cast-iron skillet.  Because you never leave on a epic journey without a cast-iron skillet.

Nine and a half months later he returned briefly.  But he wasn’t the same.  And nearly a year since then he is even more changed, now some distance further still somewhere in America.

In that regard… I suppose if this is what God wanted of me, it has worked.  And maybe I don't have that full measure of happiness I've desired yet.  But at long last for the first time in my life I have freedom.  And at this current place that my dog and I have been brought to I have been trusted with a degree of creative power, of rare appreciation, and even a bit of leadership.  I have been given responsibilities that I'd never imagined could be there to fulfill.  And it feels awesome!

I should not be alive to write these words.  And had I heeded the selfishness of others I would have been hostage in the cruelest prison for all my days.

But to quote Steve McQueen's final words in the last scene of Papillon: "Hey you bastards!  I'm still here."

Take a leap of faith.  Make that first step onto the path, as Bilbo Baggins.  Let something greater than yourself guide your way.  You might just be surprised at how far you will go.  Be it out into the world or deep into your own heart.

So what has happened these past twenty-two months?

Adventure.  Misadventure.  Joy.  Sadness.  Thrill.  Heartbreak.  Moments of clarity.  Moments of confusion.  Appreciation of friendship.  Bitterness of betrayal.  Gratefulness to God.  Doubting God at all.  Hurting.  Healing.  Coming to terms with much of my past.  Allowing myself feel long-roiling hate... so that it could finally be allowed to die.  Seeing the world with new eyes, and putting an end to old illusions.  Letting go.  And learning to live again for the first time.

I suppose some synopsis of the past year and a half is called for.  Fair enough.  In no particular order:
  • Looked upon the Pacific Ocean for the very first time on Thanksgiving Day 2016...

  • Finally visited Dealey Plaza in Dallas.
  • Made a brief ride through Branson, Missouri.
  • Found out that I had been mispronouncing "Taos" for the past few decades.
  • Got my kicks on Route 66 (and yes I made sure to have the theme from the television series playing on the car stereo) through a few towns.
  • Watched little girls play hopscotch on the sidewalk of a small American town, something I didn’t think happened anymore.
  • Was offered a job on a new television series (long story, VERY long...)
  • Spent an afternoon with Matt, a friend from college, who also gave me a tour of Fort Leonard Wood.
  • Discovered the hard way that pecan pie does not seem to exist west of Phoenix.
  • Was offered an Android Smartphone and a lewd act in exchange for thirty dollars by a prostitute in Albuquerque (then the light turned green and my foot hit the pedal...)
  • Got arrested at a United States Navy facility because my iPhone gave bad directions to a Subway sandwich shop.
  • Witnessed my miniature dachshund pee and poop precisely on the Continental Divide.
  • Got to discover what makes Kansas City barbecue such a worthy competitor to North Carolina barbecue.
  • Fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting the Palomar Observatory and seeing the Hale Telescope...
  • Had a chance encounter with Danny Trejo, who said that Tammy was a beautiful dog.
  • Crossed the Rio Grande several times.
  • Did a Facebook Live video from inside a marijuana store in Colorado (no I did NOT buy anything!) then had to drive almost four hours back to the hotel with my clothes reeking of the smell of weed.  NOT fun at all!
  • Visited the Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan presidential libraries and paid my respects at the final resting places of each.
  • Saw the Grand Canyon for the first time and stood transfixed by the majesty of it...

  • Was asked on numerous occasions in California where was I from, because it’s customary for me to always open doors for ladies and “guys just don’t do that here in California”.
  • Was standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona...

  • Drove down the Vegas Strip with the window rolled down and Tammy standing in my lap as Elvis sang “Viva Las Vegas” from my car stereo.
  • Got to meet MANY longtime friends for the first time in real life.
  • Spent a day at the Very Large Array radio telescope complex.
  • Bought “real” Blue Sky crystal meth at the candy store that made it for the television series Breaking Bad.  Also found Saul Goodman’s law office (now a bar and grill), Tuco’s headquarters, and Walter White’s house (no I did NOT throw a pizza onto its roof)...

  • Made an entire IHOP in Oklahoma City crack up laughing with an impromptu impersonation of Charles Kuralt.
  • Stood outside the gates of Graceland with Tammy (who is a hound dog... get it?).
  • Had to explain to the sales associate of a Build-A-Bear on the West Coast that you simply DO NOT send a teddy bear in a Duke basketball uniform to the home of a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus, even if it IS a Christmas present for his eight-month old daughter.
  • Fulfilled another longtime dream: drove along a desolate highway through the desert, not another vehicle in sight, with the car window down and listening to "Mrs. Robinson".
  • Did something I had wanted to do since I was six years old: visit Meteor Crater near Flagstaff, Arizona.
  • Drove atop Hoover Dam.
  • Met a lot of fascinating people and made new friends along the way including but not limited to: Marissa (who once appeared in a Super Bowl commercial), Tom T. Hall (who as my father did, enjoys Sir Walter Raleigh smoking tobacco), Candice, the Japanese Man, Mr. Peppy, Ophelia the Maid, Steve the Geek (who also has a dachshund), and Benjamin the pastor of “Church Sid’s Canoe” which is a fine bunch of good folks.
  • Somehow ended up in Sedona, which is kinda like Pigeon Forge if it was run by Shirley MacLaine.
  • Spent a few hours visiting the U.S.S. Midway aircraft carrier.
  • Got to eat gelato for the first time in my life.
  • Made an excursion into Utah but did not see any polygamist enclaves.
  • Visited the memorial on the site of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
  • Saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story three times.  And Doctor Strange twice, the second time with my dear friend Bethany (so thankful we finally got to meet in person!)...
  • Was told that I was "the best writer who has come through the door in a very long time" and that unfortunately there wasn't a budget for another reporter.  I'm still counting that as a pretty good experience.
  • Got to meet a fellow expatriate of Rockingham County working in a restaurant in Emporia, Kansas.
  • Visited Mount Wilson Observatory, where Pluto was discovered.
  • Found out firsthand that one MUST have a full tank of gas when crossing the Mojave Desert (unless you WANT to pay five bucks a gallon, at a run-down store filled with knockoff knick-knacks and Jehovah's Witness literature). 
  • Briefly met Dr. David Jeremiah, pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church.  The visitors parking lot of which is bigger than many Walmart parking lots.
  • Sought out and found EVERY Krispy Kreme between Memphis and Los Angeles.
  • Walked around a Native American pueblo that has been continuously inhabited for a thousand years.
  • Stood on the plains of Kansas on the night of the Fourth of July and watched fireworks being lit by towns from horizon to horizon all around me.
  • Had a very surreal evening witnessing the returns of Election Day 2016 from a hotel room in Phoenix.
  • Played chess with a blind man... and lost!
  • Was recognized because of my 2006 school board campaign ad by a former Eden resident… in a Target store in Southern California.
  • Realized that I was the only white person among at least a hundred Navajo in a supermarket.  That was pretty cool!
  • Visited the home and tomb of Will Rogers.
  • May or may not have fallen in love a few times... and yet the quest goes on.
There is more, lots more.  But that's the gist of what transpired during almost two years and 18 states and more than 20,000 miles of a boy and his dog across America.

So, what’s going on lately?  What happens now?

Currently I am in another place, somewhere in America.  Working with an amazing group of people on some projects while also pursuing my own.  Starting to blog again was on the "to-do" list so if you're reading these words you already know that's a success.  There is also an idea for a full-length film, my first in a WAY long time, that I've started writing the screenplay of.  Not a comedy or parody this time: it's an honest-to-gosh drama, or something.  And the way I plan to shoot it is going to be challenging and fun.

I'm not where I want to be.  Still not there.  But by the grace of God and the encouragement of many friends, both new and old, I am getting there.  There is movement.  And that alone is a grace to be thankful for.

Can't promise anything about the tone and style of The Knight Shift from here on out.  I came back but as Gandalf told Bilbo, "you won't be the same again."  And that's definitely me.  "I ain't changed but I know I ain't the same" as that song by The Wallflowers goes.  But I'm gonna be inclined to say that y'all will recognize some familiar milieus just as you will find some new perspectives.

So... let's see what's out there THIS time!


Geoff Gentry xforce11 said...

Great post, looking forward to more as inspiration strikes.

Brian Fesperman said...

Awesome post! I'm glad to see you back at it!

Two things:
(1) If you were going to stand at a corner in Winslow Arizona and stand at the gates of Graceland with a hound, you should have taken the opportunity to find an unnamed horse and ride it through the desert!

(2) I thought Pluto was discovered way out in the fringes of our solar system. You're not inferring that's fake, too, are you?

Lurch said...

Never mind the crystal meth. What the hell is Dino Doo????

Welcome back! Your wit and wisdom was greatly missed.

Anonymous said...

My favorite blogger. Very glad to see youve returned. So what do you think of all the new Star Wars ?

Hey Jude the Lesser

Chris Knight said...

Hmmmm... ya know, I *should* write something about Star Wars, shouldn’t I? It’s only been 2 and 1/2 YEARS since the last time I did :-P