The Bus Test

Every few days I put on my traveling boots and stuff everything I have into a backpack that is obviously shrinking.  Then I get on a bus for a period of time that before this trip would have seemed insane.  If the trip is more than 14 hours I´ll buy a travel size bottle of Grant’s Scotch to help pass the time.

Once I´m settled in my seat and the bus is rolling I eat my disgusting dinner or breakfast of warm Coca Cola and a candy bar.  Then I put on my iPod and listen to a play list of slightly melancholy yet up lifting music.  I watch the city or jungle or mountains or desert roll by.  I try to imagine the lives of the locals selling food on the street.  I feel bad for the skinny dogs eating trash along the side of the road.

After a few songs my mind drifts.  I wait.  I know exactly what is coming.  My mind replays the last few days or weeks.  Impossibly vivid scenes flash through my head.  I see with perfect clarity the curve of a smile.  A potent smell that is no longer there fills my nostrils.  A strange accent that I have not heard in days rings in my ears.  An emotion that has long since faded vibrates again in my chest.  My nostalgic conscience rips me from my seat.  I disappear from the bus.

I think about all the things I did.  I contemplate the places I saw.  I remember the people I met and shared drinks and stories with.  I know that I will never see them again and with most of them that is fine.  And some I will soon gladly forget.  But there are a few that I will never see again and it saddens me more than I want to admit.

Each memory, emotion and story launches a brutal question into my mind.  I hate some of these cold challenges but I embrace others. Some answers are hard to admit and bring chills of regret or a sinking depression while others come easy and are accompanied by a smile and a sense of warmth that far surpasses anything the Scotch can provide.

Did I make the most of it?  Did I do anything that was terrifying, no, straight out of a bad dream, no a nightmare?  Did I make any new friends?  Did I see any old friends and if so are we still cool?  Did I walk into a situation arrogantly and end up humbled?  Did I make somebody else happy?  Did I dance on the bar?  Did I act like a boy or a man?  Would I take any of it back?  Did I take the weight?

After a few hours the final question comes. It is the only one that really matters.  Am I just a tiny bit wiser, stronger or better than the last time I got on a bus and took the test?  Sometimes I don’t know the answer and sometimes it is a crushing no, but today I’m going to say yes.  Today I passed.

The amazing thing about the bus test is that you don’t even need a bus to take it.  All you need is a memory, a few quiet minutes and a soul.  Honestly evaluating and harshly judging your own actions and life might sound insane to some.  Those are the people I will soon gladly forget on this trip.

All to soon I will stop taking ridiculously long bus rides around this amazing continent, but I will never stop taking the bus test.

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1 Response to The Bus Test

  1. Donald says:

    Probably your best post. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that same conversation with myself. It’s tough to stay humble and always act like a man. So many actions I’d like to take back. Some I still get embarrassed about.
    Live on my friend.

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