Ticket To Ride, Chapter 12: Travel is, at best, a metaphor for the inner journey…

ivy-league-school-brown-university-providence-riTwelve

Morgan turned eighteen shortly after Psalm’s death. Even though his mind felt locked in a vice, he’d decided, just after Psalm died to return to the mainland to attend college. Visions of brick buildings and autumn leaves fed his desire of becoming a modern-day Thoreau and thus, at least in his mind, he began his journey toward becoming an academic. His meetings with Miko were cut short after his argument with his father and his hunger for books pushed him to read into the small hours of the night. He wouldn’t get out of bed until near noon and was just biding his time because his mother, whom he spoke to when his father was at work, insisted on giving him some money from her trust. Her sister was arranging it on the mainland.

He worked at the store less and without being conscious of the change, matters of the spirit seemed to have died. He was “getting into his mind” and felt that this was a good thing. His experience with acid had darkened him. He had become detached, a skeleton of intellect.

“Take this money and the money you’ve saved and honey… and be a writer, go to school Morgan, be yourself.”

They hugged and promised each other they’d keep in touch.

Back on the mainland Morgan studied literature for two years, rarely looking up from his books to see the world around him. His retreat into this life of the mind was almost seamless. Almost, until one day, in a French literature class, the professor showed “Boudou Saved From Drowning” by Jean Renoir. Morgan could feel it coming from the pit of his stomach, burning. The professor was going on about how Boubou represented a sort of primal wildness and further, that his presence was a threat to French society. And in that moment, Morgan felt like college was nothing more than some long drawn-out form of masturbation that never quite finished the job. He raised his hand. The professor looked at him. The class looked to where the professor was looking. Morgan breathed and said,

“The middle class has no sense of humor, the lower class wants to be the middle or upper class and the upper class is populated by zombies. Western culture is suffering some kind of collective neurosis where everyone’s living in some kind of weird fear… This shit’s too much.” he finished, smiling.

The professor just stood there, expressionless.

His academic counselor, a pony-tailed and down-to-earth man only a little older than Morgan suggested that Morgan spend some time in Europe.

“It’d be good for you. All the great writers have gone on spiritual and intellectual sojourns.”

“I’m just having a hard time seeing what I’m accomplishing here.”

“Most of us go through this sort of thing. If nothing else, you’ll be collecting experiences for future writing.”

This spoke to Morgan’s literary self, his academic vanity, and to a much smaller extent, his sense of adventure, which had been all but snuffed out by his over-indulgence in vicarious journeys.

“But remember, ‘travel is, at best, a metaphor for the inner journey and, at worst, an avoidance of it.”

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