I spent almost two weeks in the desert, scorched by its unrelenting sun, desiccated by its implacable dryness, and accompanied by the searing realization of my own physical and spiritual weakness.
I spoke with few people, and spent most of my time riding, resting or listening to my audiobooks. These three books read together are an invitation to repentant prayer: The novel Infinite Jest – a rumination on addiction, depression and recovery, The non-fiction bestseller Thinking Fast and Slow – a summary of a lifetime of research on cognitive intuition’s limits, failures and biases, and Road to Character – David Brooks’ sketch of how to develop inner character in the age of superficial success.
Days blur together in my memory, serrated irregularly by extended night riding and long afternoon naps. The nights are resolutely quiet in Nevada as the wind drops from the late afternoon roar to a whisper. At high altitude the mercury free-falls after sunset, and the moonless nights I rode under displayed the billows of the Milky-Way’s stars with a matchless intensity.
My mind puzzled over the clouds of pure light, worlds after worlds after worlds. Stars orbiting stars, gas giants without count, comets and asteroids enough to pave the plane of the solar system, rocky spheres like mercury and mars, maybe even a few “blue planets”, fellow stewards of life in the enormous nation of stars we call our galaxy.