The Signpost and the Road

/, Essays, Blesok no. 20/The Signpost and the Road

The Signpost and the Road

The third day, already being “an old wolf” on the motorway, Muaz easily registered a series of changes. Although they were subtle, at first glance unconnected, his perceiving attention and advanced understanding lucidly organised them into a new message on a certain invisible signpost. More precisely, an instruction and a preparation. The traffic became light. Those who were driving, like him, were mainly experienced, safe drivers. Now and then they overtook each other. Understandably, he overtook them, too. Just to pass the time (and the weather was still perfect!). To curtail the day (and the days were all clear, long, of those having no end or satiety). The way was leading towards South. And as if he was gradually, hardly visibly, but by many signs, undoubtedly, losing the height from which he commenced. He saw that by the intensive vegetation. As if summer ruled here. Plantations of fruit, mainly ripe. Dark, shadowy, reined green tree crowns. Rare meadow flowers. Trembling of scorching air, in the distance, in front of him, over the black, and already seemingly narrowed asphalt. I would say, puddles of water, in which the sky is reflected, cast from melted bright lead. New and new drivers became involved, the old ones, the ones he met and noticed on the road the day before, were rarer and rarer. A couple of them, whom he saw on the road the first day, whom as if he had always known, and who like him were travelling for three days already following the same signposts, were close to him. Born brothers.
So he slept that night as well. Little, very little and in a very undefined way, anxious. He sailed, as if he had not expended his strength, as though he had not received the dose of excitements for that day. But he was not tired. Once he deliberated his Vindemiatio Terta carefully and from all sides, and found nothing that he would mind, dream dropped in on him without a notice but sweetly.
The fourth day. Slaughter of Princes. The motorway ended. Some chain accidents took even the last of the passengers who were travelling with him from the first day. The signposts were rarer and rarer. Obliterated, often crashed. By rule – illegible. But if the day before he had been “an old wolf”, now he truly was an old tiger. While his intuition, experience, and his concentration, were more and more sharpened, and in spite of the misery of a continuous journey, yet he was not at all fatigued. His freshness, vigor, and reflexes, did not differ from what they were like on the first day of the great trip. Thus, apart from several serious temptations, he remained on the way. On his way.
He had the nerve to enter two or three critical and uncertain situations of overtaking at very unclear spots. Both the hero’s luck and the car helped him. He coped in the zone in which the roads were still good and visible, but there were no whatsoever signs. He again found his way clearly marked with the sign pointing towards his destination. He noticed that from long ago the signposts were neither clear nor frequent enough, that he needed to drive for longer and longer relying upon himself. He realised that the builder of the road here dosed his intervention in such a way that he would test the passenger, instead of making it easier for him. The mistake was now not only possible, but very real. In every moment one could miss, oversee, err.
Vindemiatio quarta did not easily give up to him, on that fourth night. They argued for long before they understood each other. But they went to sleep with healthy, deep dream. Like the previous nights. Embraced.
And here he was now. Travelling for five days already. More precisely, it was the fifth night. Just as he departed in the morning, at dawn, he saw that there were no more signposts. At least not his signpost. Some vague signs, demolished boards, arrows pointing somewhere, but not saying where – that is what there was. But there was no trace, even as a puzzle, rebus, or an announcement, of the sign he was looking for. And the way altered completely. Narrow, bad, so that two vehicles could not pass next to each other.
But no one anymore was coming from there anyway!
He somehow surpassed all difficulties and overcame the obstacles that became so frequent, that it was better to say that it was one constant obstacle, which only rarely, and only for a short time, left space for rest. And when it became dark that day, there was no motel, inn, shelter. Not a trace of it. To cap it all, it became cold. This did not look like autumn. It was autumn. So, here he was, already driving for approximately twenty hours practically without stoppage. He took canisters of fuel the previous day. Muaz prepared himself. He programmed himself for travel through hard and desolate terrain. It was not a problem to go, for much longer. But he did not know now – where!? There was a road, so-so. Nothing led him to realise whether this was his road!
Relying only upon his strength, which did not betray him, and the intuition, of which he was not aware how faithful it was to him (not that there was a sign after which he would praise it for hitting the target or reprimand it for the mistake), now he was driving in the middle of the night. The dead of night. To make it all worse, it was raining heavily for hours already. The lightnings were slicing the black dough the darkness is made out of. A moment later thunders rumbled. The windscreen wipers, furiously, like in an amok,were going here and there over the windscreen. But to no avail. Before they came down, torrents of rain would cover what they had opened for the eyes an instant earlier. And once, raised, they would transfer the waterfall over the other side, new cataracts would gush forth in streams.
Muaz was driving. He was blinking and making efforts to see. But he was rather driving and advancing by sheer fluke. And while his senses and instincts worked, totally taking over his destiny in their hands, his mind was becoming released. And starting to think at ease, quietly, like in an afternoon siesta, after a good lunch. Muaz was contemplating about the signpost and the road.
The signpost and the way!
This world has no knowledge of two such dilemmas.
For the total weight of Hamlet’s problem is focussed on it. Only subtler. But not harmless. Killing me softly, fatal, but appeased. He does not scream from fear faced with his own audacity to Look over the Edge! Into the abyss, into which, look or not, you will have to jump. Does one, by following signposts, after the previous agreement to start a journey (Oh, what a problematic, and by its consequences what an unpredictable agreement!) annihilate one’s own exploring spirit, creative elation, briefly, does one travel one’s own way and live one’s own life!? Isn’t the full sense lost of travelling with such “packet-arrangements”, planned for those who, after the trip, will have where to return!? From this journey called life, Tao! However, there is no returning anymore. If you travel here complying with someone else’s signposts, it is as if you had not passed your part of the way!
If you still decide to ignore and forget the signposts, and start following your own way, the way without signposts, have you actually travelled or have you just wandered, misled and lost, in areas you neither discovered as yours, nor you managed to recognise yourself through the entire journey. For the ancient sages said, we discover ourselves, only after we have passed our own way! And which is the way that can rightfully be called “our way”! Does it exist at all!? Or, it is only the shadow of a falling dream, and not on the rock-solid earth we would walk over, but on a certain tranquil, mysterious river carrying everything with itself. Except for that shadow!
Is man obliged to live in accordance with his convictions, does he have to look for and confirm the foundations of his determination – whatever it is!? Did philosophers, thinkers, great Teachers, lived (should they live?) in compliance with their teachings so that both they and he would gain more respect and dignity!? As Nietzsche said, that exceedingly excited spirit, permanently on the brink of definitive, irrevocable hysteria: I have respect only for what is written with one’s own blood! Perhaps it is only a scarcely concealed dogmatism, an intrusive, boasting position hiding fanatism – fanatism, to be all the worse, without cover!
Wouldn’t it be good to take into account, veeery seriously, the parable which radically disputes this attitude, by one man as clever as his name, Schopenhauer, and what he left behind him, namely, recommend? Asked how he could, in the role of a philosopher and man, speak of and advice one thing, and practice completely another thing, this wise man said, “the signpost does not go together with the road’. Simply and with a meaning. And if truth be told, not a single signpost has the role to go where it itself points to. The function of the signpost, its validity, is checked with the accuracy of its information regarding the destination, and not with whether it itself goes towards it.
Just the opposite. The signpost executes correctly its task only if it does not itself move but only tells to those who move where they will arrive if they continue in that direction. Its responsibility is measured afterwards, if you do not arrive, led by the direction, where it promised you will arrive.
In this way the philosopher explained, and in this way he acted.
He did as it was proper for him: instead of living the life, he decided to spend it contemplating about it. Instead of travelling, only to direct where the road leads to. Himself not going anywhere! I walk down the road, mooother, aaask for the road, aaa, aaa, aaa! The road is my bed, mother, my pillow!
So, Muaz, a certain traveller, who maybe knew, and maybe did not, at least not from the very beginning, the whole dilemma about the road and the signpost, started a journey. Thus he was where he was. He started in spring, and became conscious in late autumn. He was travelling for five days already, whether in vain, and where! Was he travelling or roaming. Was he travelling, or following a signpost? The road itself, or a signpost, he did not know, what it was.
However, he thought, he believed he knew where he was going. Resolute to reach that destination, here he was, searching for the last signpost in the car’s lights, for perhaps some sign, inkling, would flash in front of him to help him exit the five-day nightmare.
Eventually, as it always happens, this story was solved at the very end – the inkling flashed. Amidst a crossroads, dug out of the darkness with a potent lightning – here it was, the signpost, before Muaz’ eyes. But what a signpost!
Greater than David’s figure by Michelangelo. And much more beautiful than that masterpiece, this signpost in the form of a gigantic human sculpture, pointed its finger right to the way by which man should reach his destination. Flabbergasted by the astonishing view, he stopped the car, switched off the motor, so he went out, dear mooother, to look at the signpost in the light of the headlights from a close distance. And what did he see: the signpost looked like it was made of pure gold – and perhaps it was. Faultless in its monumental aesthetics, shining from the torrential, late autumn rain, like in a dream, it clearly directed with the stretched gracious male hand, imperatively directed: There! Go ahead, just go ahead, even into death!
Muaz was staring at the whole surface of the gigantic pedestal. The fascinating and obsessive signpost had some mystifying letters and whole lines of alchemist marks. Should he halt, remain here, figuring them out for as long as he is alive? On the pointing finger, still in the light of the headlights of his stopped car, Muaz noticed a big ring! The ring glittered as if it were a diamond, the greatest diamond ever seen by the human eyes – and perhaps it was. Muaz totally forgot not only his destination, but also that he had set off somewhere, and that from the very beginning, he had an intention to arrive somewhere.
It is not known what Muaz did. Whether, where he stopped, he ended his journey and remained!? Did he stop at that figure that was supposed to be a signpost, but for whose beauty, unusualness, and celestial attractiveness, he completely forgot that it was yet only a signpost!? Would he know, would he recall that he should have travelled towards his destination instead of stopping and remaining beside the signposts? Every Muaz should solve this, and solves it for himself.
There are many who on their way stop to eat, drink, listen to beautiful music, or look at beauties, enjoy in bodily delights, the incomparable pleasures of the only, unforgettable own body – and all this is needed since each of these things are both a signpost, support, repose and gathering of force – and so amazed by the strength, beauty, and sweetness of those signposts, they entirely forget this road.
There are much fewer, very few of those who realise that all this life, with all its inexhaustible beauties and breathtaking wonders, is just a Valley of Signposts. Even the world, life, in general, are only one unique, the greatest and most tempting signpost – and yet only a signpost! The signpost pointing towards the principal road.
Very rare are those who have managed to resist the temptation of magic magnetism, the voice with which neither a single mermaid, nor all mermaids altogether can sing, the seductive, murderous, soft voice of this last signpost, and who have caught a glimpse of the direction it points to.
And those in between, who have managed to set out on that journey, towards the true destination for all people and all living beings, and yet not following the signpost but converting themselves into a signpost – are only a few in the entire history so far.
They call them – Harbingers, carriers of the Message.
The dead of night, standing beneath the huge signpost, watered by streams of rain, Muaz was gazing in the nontransparent darkness the finger of his last signpost was pointing to. There was nobody anywhere. The windscreen wipers of the empty car produced only calm and rhythmical sounds, the car headlights were shedding the light lavishly and without measure, like one should bestow goodness and beauty.
Now and then the lightnings were cutting the deceptive tunic of the night.
Are there any signposts?!
Is there a way?!

Translated by: Kristina Zimbakova

2018-08-21T17:23:46+00:00 April 1st, 2001|Categories: Literature, Essays, Blesok no. 20|0 Comments