Driving down to the Westside was not your ideal Friday plan--not even on your top ten list of things to do in Albuquerque. Sure, you love the bosque and cruising down Montgomery over the river and down to the petroglyphs. But that ritual is a far cry from actually having to go somewhere down there and be somewhere by such and such a time.
Nevertheless, you found yourself doing just that: navigating the Westside in an attempt to get to an office meeting. You were very proud of yourself. You left a whole hour early, just to make sure you got there on time, just to leave that little wiggle room for the unexpected twists and turns of the part of Albuquerque that is so foreign to you it might as well be its own city.
It is lovely at first. You drive past the bosque, over the river and turn on Unser, cruising past the petroglyphs into the wide open expanse of the desert. But the open space does nothing to cure your tunnel vision: you must get to the meeting. As you keep driving, a slow sense of unease bubbles up inside of you. You can't seem to find the turn off to Universe, can't find Rainbow either. It is as if the desert has buried its street signs under the bright morning light.
And so you keep driving down Unser, past one Walgreens after another, one housing development after another, until all the Westside blends together in a stream of buildings built over-night. You feel like you stumbled onto the set of a modern Wild West show where everything looks like hastily slapped up storefronts with nothing behind them. Eventually, you lose even that. Any inkling of civilization is left behind and you find yourself on a one-lane road driving deeper into the desert, the mountains ahead of you the only witness to your useless sense of direction. You have never seen this part of the city before and it is as if you stumbled across a lone stretch of land invisible to all in the city except for those willing to get a little lost once in a while.
It is only when you reach the end of the road--literally a dead end in the middle of nowhere--that you pause and examine your directions again. The meeting has already started. Yet despite your need to get back on the road and find your way to civilization, you take a moment to pause, to breathe, to enjoy the desert quiet. It is a gift, you realize--getting lost. A gift from Coyote, that desert trickster that sneaks up on us just when we most need to unplug from our narrow vision and get a bigger world view.
There, alone in the middle of the desert, you realize your life is more than just being a perfect worker bee and getting from one place to the other. It is sand and stone, air and light, mountain and breath. You take this revelation with you as you pull back on the road and find your destination.
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