January 18, 2005

Hawai'i Series: A Horse With No Name

Last month, I was wending my way through the grocery aisle when the store’s piped music broke into the familiar opening strums of “A Horse With No Name” by the 70’s folk group America. I quickly reckoned that this same occurrence could be happening in countless, random convenience stops across the country.

It’s just that this one was in a town called Kailua on the island of Oahu...in Hawai’i.

As for many, the song triggers deep memories - delivering me to an ancient time when, curled beneath the covers, I scanned the radio dial for distant stations and news of life beyond the Corn Belt. In the night, an AM radio signal can travel hundreds of miles across the country’s plains. “A Horse With No Name” was a frequent missive.

The journey - free roaming, liberated from language - in joint company with the nameless horse always sang of an Eden that exists over the horizon, beneath one’s feet, somewhere out in America’s mythic Wild West.

Standing in that Hawaiian grocery aisle, I realized I had traveled to a place beyond reach of the nameless horse and even further than the narrator’s imagination could carry him. At the checkout line, after a journey of nine days, the singer was letting the horse run free “cause the desert had turned to sea.”

To my young, landlocked ears this logic had been unassailable. The horse and rider had arrived at the watery edge of the knowable universe and so the trip, and with it the song, comes to a close.

Yet, there they were, riding through the desert on the remotest archipelago on earth. That bodega at that moment seemed beyond reach of even the strongest AM radio signal in the deep of the night.

Hawai'i is like that. One arrives with that confident certainty of what constitutes The World only to learn that in a place where the newest earth in all creation issues forth, there is no knowable universe only “plants and birds and rocks and things.”

Posted by mark at January 18, 2005 02:51 AM

I think the hot lava looks like silver marker and mom thinks that it looks like elephant skin and dad thinks it looks like stuff you would not want to step in a cow pasture.

Posted by: Ally at January 24, 2005 09:42 PM

where the newest galaxy in all creation issues forth, there is no knowable universe only stars and black holes and mysteries and things. Thanks.

Posted by: Dan Turner at January 30, 2005 07:10 PM

The photos are amazing. The vibrancy of life combined with the wisdom of your words leave me inspired and clear-minded to breath in life's next experience

Posted by: NW at February 13, 2005 08:11 AM