Updated: May 20
When I pulled in to Siberia I was already unsure. Unsure and uncertain of why the mystery and seclusion of this place had been seemingly compromised. What secrets had been let out? Who had ventured here between this visit and my last time out, three months prior? Someone must have let the empty escape; or had driven it away; or had erased it with attention; or had reminded the nothing that it was not. Whatever the cause, the empty appeared gone - as silly as that might sound.
My first act was - after parking the big GSA motorcycle - was to use my flashlight to walk and scan the heart of the ghost town for something. Perhaps if I could confirm there was no something there, then the nothing I sought would be found?
The next day I'd recovered my desert equilibrium and was able to produce this Good Life video just after sunrise.
This solitude began upon departure from work at 3:15 PM on Thursday, October 18th, 2018. I was headed back to Siberia, my desert haunt and sometimes reluctant home. This time turned out to be more reluctant than usual... I later determined the cause was lack of practice - as I hadn't visited the ghost town in almost three months - along with the fact of a strange congestion of humanity along Route 66 which heightened my senses and some alarm that the solitude I was forcing myself to swallow might somehow get stuck in my throat and perhaps choke out my plans. A long night followed. Long, for the more alert senses (were any the trucks I'd seen on the road going to turn in and come here to Siberia?) and the forgotten familiarity of the loud trains blasting their horns four times (blaaaaaar, blaaaaaaar, blaar, blaaaaaaaaaar ) before crossing over the Siberia railroad crossing. In the night, my remembered muse arrived to suggest some thoughts which I've recorded below. Also, some starlight twinkled when I left the tent about three AM, and I saw an enormous meteorite streak the sky impossibly fast, dying like a mortal who completes their time at the height of their purpose, with no time left over to remember. Those two things were good, and convenient, and conventional rewards for my visit and stay. A good overnight to be sure. Good for the motorcycle trip which always makes me feel so alive; better the words which came to me in the night; better still for the upset I'd felt and overcome upon my first arrival. If only I could always be so shaken...and then so gladly woken from the fear which was really only ever a dream.
Notes from my muse
I’m 100 miles out from Siberia. It’s been a long time. I wonder if the ghosts there will remember me...
I’m scared here tonight. The trains are loud. And incessant. There’s too much traffic on Route 66. And there’s new and kinda scary graffiti on the ruin walls. It’s like civilization has made some inroad here during my absence these last few months. I was here last in July. It’s October now. The heat was too much for me then. It took days to recover from my last visit. I’m out of practice now. I’ve forgotten my way and footing here. It’s gonna be a long night. And to think I was worried about the ghosts of this ghost town at last becoming real - when in fact the real threat was the specters of civilization following me to haunt me here, where I was sure they never belonged.
It’s almost three AM and the commotion has passed. I was fooled earlier by something more memory than fact. For it wasn’t the familiar which had followed me out to Siberia; but instead my memory of that life which I could not easily put aside due to long immersion and exposure without respite or break of any sort. Imagine what I’d be now if I’d never come here at all? Imagine how impossible this fleeting escape and tour of indifference if I’d always lived so cloistered and safe? I’d never see the things which aren’t really here. I’d always believe there was something more.
About four AM a thunderous locomotive awoke me from my dream here at home in Siberia. The great locomotive blasted through the still night. A great wave of sound and reminder of what I once was just hours before. But after passing through the dark and cold ghost town, the empty returned; like the sea swallowing a great boulder fallen or better still thrown into its expansive body. Such a vain and useless expense - yielding nothing in fact other than momentary show and distraction. I’m too far returned now to be reached completely by what I did not come here to remember.
I’m happy my muse is still here. Out here in the wastes. I’d worried a bit she’d be gone now that my hard work is done and I’d said all the words. But she’s still here. My dead muse met me when I’d arrived an hour after sundown. Like a wife getting her husband home. Though there’s no warmth or companionship in this welcome. Just the reminder of death and an eternity of empty to follow. My muse kissed me later with cold starlight. She whispered in bed of confusion in the night wind. We watched together a fast meteorite evaporite into entropy, and my muse smiled with truth in her dead eyes. How could I imagine she’d be gone from this place. What a fool I was to think my dead muse was mine, or had anything to do with my vain efforts of production or creative grasping as immortality. My efforts are like the games of a baby to her. Like starlight momentarily striking an eye which will recognize the sensation and then at once die. Like a mortal folding his arms against a cold gust of dark morning wind. My muse sees me coming and going from this place. She never really speaks to me though, as her indifference is like a gulf impossible to cross. And even that’s not true. When I can recall there’s nothing but the gulf.
I’d stay if I had more resolve. Yet the wind is more than I can take. Not cold yet. But cold enough to melt my last resolve.
Terrible winds at Siberia this morning forced me out. After riding some distance I’ve found a place where the winds are more mild. There appears an entrance to a curious-looking wilderness. I’ve adjusted my pack and sent a test message from the emergency device, which appears to be working. I’m going in.
It’s so easy to leave our fellows behind. Simply walk in the direction where their footprints are a diminishing return. And suddenly...there they aren’t. What’s this other thing we find isn’t there then as well?
I’m back from the wild. I found water out there! A pool with shrimp swimming around in it. Imagine my surprise. Desert shrimp.
My name is Kurt Bell.
You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.
Be safe... But not too safe.