Coming Home, Part 1: Back in Snohomish and AZ
Just a couple of hours to ride across the border from Vancouver back to Snohmish.
Don and Joni, Wilma and Dough are happy to hear the stories from the trip North, I am happy to have a place to rest, maintain the bike and have company with my friends.
One important issue has to be discussed in Snohomish over the dinners, parties, repairs, shoppings and games: how and where should Thomas continue his tour? The project in NY is at this point less than stable, the money is running out, all South-American stations cant be lined up in time and the family in Germany is asking me to come back to take care of them.
Despite all the help and offers from Don and Joni to support the trip further south, I decide to go to NY and then back to Germany, South America has to wait. They only let me go east with the promise to come back, and I leave with doubts whether I do the right thing ...
I see again how beautiful Washington State is while I go east to the famous Glacier Park, then south to the jaw-dropping valleys in Utah and down to crazy Arizona. In between Salt Lake City has to be crossed on an unpleasant busy highway in stormy weather. The Salt Lake is to be seen far on the right side with black clouds over it, telling me that it is not advisable to ride on its surface today.
That storm almost hit me later that day when I came down on the bad dirtroad into the Valley of the Gods. It would be no good idea as well to stay n the serpentines with water washing the "road" away underneeth your tw wheels. Just in time with black clouds chasing me, I reach the town with the motel. In the night I see again that this weather change was due to the full moon, as I experienced it often on this trip all over the world when I changed from one area into another.
I just write down a few words and show just a few pictures here from the many I took, in real it is all much greater as one can imagine or has seen on TV or heard about.
It would take many pages to describe what you can see on this trip from the border of Canada in the north to the border of Mexico in the south, I think I better shut up, there are no words existing to say what on sees and feels. Maybe one issue is important: the continous change of landscape, nature, people and conditions! If you did not understand it before already, latest when riding such stretch you cannot help it but being part of the ongoing changes of the world. Nothing is static, movement is the nature of all things, you have to move, all around you has to move, all has to change, only where people fix it down to control, to exploit, to put others and themselve in the cages, there live gets very boring with all the silly side effects.
Here my inspiration came from.
Here I met people who encouraged me.
Of cause there are the Ellertsons with their practice of and believe in "being and doing good".
When I was teaching in Arizona I rented a place from them and we became friends. Kind of my american family, because we took care of each other I helped them where I could and they helped me. Besides that we had good company with each other and shared many stories of our lives.
The Ellertsons would fill an own book, or a whole series of books or films. Their family stories go back in the old western times and I heard them all a few times. A whole chunk of American history and spirit I am part of when I am there.
When I spent time with them a couple of years ago, I was thinking a lot about the human values, differences and what makes the people binding. With them I met a living example that you can get along with everybody and get a lot when you are able to give a little.
I just want to say here thank you for all, you are to me the greatest and I hope to come back soon!
The other inspiration was: "Yes, of cause its possible, Thomas!“
Applied by Tom at each problem which is actually no problem.
I wrote already about the man (see below), who told me this many times a couple of years ago. I told him, that I have the Idea to travel around the world with the motorcycle, and China would be not possible and other countries would make it difficult as well to ride through, I said.
"Of cause its all possible, Thomas. You have to do a lot of paperwork and maybe trick it here and there over the borders, but it is all possible."
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"… One of the good things about motorcycling is that suddenly you have many friends, and most of them really mean it. The non-motorcyclist of you maybe have seen motorcyclists greeting each other on the road. Here in Poland and in most places in the world they do it a lot, and usually you can count on it, that if you need help that someone stops.
One of them, a really important one for me, is Tom Mueller, the former salesman from one of the two BMW shops in the Phoenix area, Arizona.
When I got interested in buying a motorcycle I checked out both shops and in one was Tom. The first peculiar thing I noticed was a book on his desk: Don Quichote! I asked him about and mentioned that this is a very special book, underestimated, but actually in the top ten of world literature. He told me that he has ALL English translations and reads in fact only this book. I didnt understand. But its quite simple, he indeed has all existing translations in English by different translators of this book. And reads them all. Its HIS book. The one which makes the most sense for him. The book of the traveller who sees things around him which noone else sees.
Tom was a soldier of the french foreign legion for most of his live, signing up on the order of his father when he was 16. His father was in the french legion and his grandfather as well, both in high ranks. Toms career of a major stoppt when a bomb exploded underneeth the car of an African President he had to escort. Right in front of him. The guy next to him didnt survive it, Tom was left with injuries and only 25% of his hearing capacity. No more Legion. But Motorcycles, like all his live.
Its just one of the stories you hear from him, amongst being buried alive with corpses and their ghosts e.g., and think: holy cow, these things are true and even more real as I was able to imagne them before ... .
The conversations with him about the army, the battles he was involved in, of cause his travellings around the world in combination to Don Quichote and his sense for art were the big inspiration for me to to travel on the bike around the globe and make art with people. We both knew immediately that we have partly different opinions about the army, but both understood from each other that the other understands the necessity to overcome this unfortunate miscommunication in the world, wether one is involved activly or not.
He got a stroke recently and I dont know in which condition I will see him when I hopefully make it to Arizona again, with my motorcycle to say hello: "Look I made it around, you were the first to sell me a bike." He not only talks about this brotherhood, but he lives it. …“
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He is the one who sold me my first motorcycle and said some other magic words to me when I tried to ride it out the first time from the shop while the other guys in the shop watched and hardly coud hold their laughing being the witness how the unexperienced rider was nervously hesitating to take off.
The magic words were: "When YOU are ready, Thomas."
That changed my attire in many difficult situations. Very often I was thinking of these words and HOW they were said: calm, deep, true, reliable.
I met him again for the first time after he suffered a stroke. Again I tell myself the magic words before I enter the hospital, when YOU are redy, but what would follow made me cry.
The huge strong man was now helpless in a wheelchair, only being able to move his right side, making even a handshake hard and the speaking nearly impossible. Ashamed of his own state he doesnt want to say anything or even notice that I am there. I say that I understand that and dont take it personal, that I just want to thank him, because he introduced me in the right way to the motorcycling world, which gave me a complete new perspective to the world and that I met so many good people through that. Tears are collecting in my eyes and he makes a face with his wide open mouth which I can not interpret.
Between physical ability and inability it is hard to express emotions and it is hard to read them from the outside. But they come bluntly through and irritate the one who expects agreed codes of expression.
So am I.
His wife Katrina, who is there every day, interfers by mentioning that he gets emotional once a while, keeps talking about him and the situation is solved somehow.
The eyes are speaking all the time and I read in them his changing states and clear messages.
"I am bored - leave me alone - look, this is me now - get me out of here - oh, thats interesting, sleep ... "
Slightly shaking the head as if someone would say "hmm..." means actually a clear no and a little nodding is a yes.
We agree that I come back to show pictures of my trip, although we know that it hurts at the same time, because he is not able to do anymore what he likes the most.
I visit him every second day while I am in Arizona and speak German to him, since his father spoke German with him as well. One day of visit is good, one day not .
On a good day he likes a good story, good pictures, and he responds to a clear language, with that I mean no bullshitting but saying something. In these moments the eyes are wide open as if they would absorb not only the images of the world but the German words themselves with the eyes as well.
The pictures and stories of Kazachstan, Kyrgystan, India, Bangadesh, Japan, and elsewhere connect us.
More is communicated sometimes which is noone elses business. The range of it is between living and dying.
But since he is the first one who called me "Brother" in front of everybody and meant it, I dont let him down. Of cause he always wanted to sell motorcycles, and he knew how, because he knows about people. I always knew that it is business as well and he knew that I knew, so we could go over the superficiality quick.
I tell him he has to do the training every day, even it is just a little bit, even he hates the therapists and their childish communication, but there is no other way out of it. And one day he will be out of this shit and walk alone. Some reaction of spirit goes through his eyes again when I leave.
One other day Katrina is there again at the same time as me. She takes care a lot of him. He is lucky to have someone who really loves him, others would let someone like him down.
He follows the chatting between Katrina and me when he is intersted. My presents are Dvds and Cds with radio podcasts in German which I selected as a first try from my huge collection. He seems to like this idea, becuse he looks up each time I mentioned it, and now that I bring some, one can see that he is indeed enlightened.
During the selection I noticed, that German Radio is very peculiar. History is, out of good reasons, still very permeated with the faschistic periode and the guilt factor. Science seems to be the victim of working too much in pure speculations and mathematical models. My long time favorite, "the philosophical radio" suffers a bit under the unavailability of thinkers of integrity and a closeness to the catholic philosophy, since this is broadcasted from Cologne, but taking an unbiased look at the thinking of great minds like the guy I am named after, Thomas of Aquino, though he had no idea about the nature of woman, one can see in their philosophy the intellectual value in the meaningful bridging of who we are and who we might be one day.
Very good are usually the essays about general culture and discourses, reports from all over the world and when two clever people are chatting about a special theme. For my taste, the contributions of these programs are sometimes a bit blinded by their moral and political correctness, but not necessariy limiting, but ok, some people need a clear message. Underneeth the line the whole mix gives a wide picture of reflection, which gives the one who wants enough food to think.
My favorite is "lived stories", a program where old people tell their life story: a woman who stood in the same shop all her life, a captain who sailed to sea for 50 years, someone who survived holocaust, famous ladies and gentlemen from the sports and arts, who were stars when I was a child, secretraries and drivers of polititians, diplomats and the politicians themself, or the long time champion in carrier pigeon competition out of, please guess, my hometown Oberhausen. They all dont bullshit. With no word.
Tom never gave much about bullshitting something which has no substance, and that indicator in him is still alert as nothing else is.
If I tell him something in which I dont really believe in, just saying it to say something, he doesnt care and wants to sleep or watches beside into the TV or outside the window. If I have something to say of integrity, meaning and importance he looks at me interested. As soon I fade into meaninglessness, his mind is not paying attention. In between these states of MY MIND, his look challenges me about the trouth of my words.
I dont know any other person whos instinct is in such a degree alert about the trouth of words, the core of things and the integrity of people. I had to think about it for a while until I had he words for the phenomena which is so present here. It took me long because it is very simple: something what moves people and something what people move. Usually one induces the other.
If you want to find out about yourself and what you have to say: please visit my brother Tom at 1980 W. Pecos, Chandler, give greetings from me and tell a good true story.
Dons way to light the fire ..
Kim, Laura, John and Sunny,
Brother Kia and me