Dào kě dào, fēi cháng dào, is the opening lines of the Chinese sacred text dao de jing, the way of the road, or simply, the road. There are numerous translations of this phrase, but it can read something like this; the road that is the road is often the road.
And of course, sometimes it isn’t. Like when it’s a highway. But it wasn’t until I got to England that I saw the full impact of what this can mean.
For me, to tread the road is a holy act. To travel is to weave a pattern. This pattern is sacred. When you move, you transport energy and mass from one place to another, you leave an impression, both very physically with the weight of yourself or your car or trailer, but also, I believe, on another level. Often, in modern life, walking or driving a road is done repeatedly along the same lines. To me, this creates deep scars in the world, in reality if you will. Today’s form of travel on the modern, agricultural road, is to me a form of obsessive compulsion disorder, repeating an action until it does harm, to the world and to the spirit.
In England, all roads lead to London. If you look at the roads on a map, you’ll see a web, with London as the great spider in the middle, or also something like the circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno. It’s nearly impossible to get anywhere without at least touching in on one of it’s many threads. And the traffic never ceases. I will presume that most of the cars are driven by commuters, heading to and from work. I will also presume the quite a lot of these people are stressed, unhappy, ill, and worried. Or if they’re not, they will be after getting stuck in traffic.
To create an entire construction of concrete and asphalt and to fill it with suffering cannot be explained as anything but hell. And the weight of this, mental, physical, spiritual, lies heavily on the world and on the surroundings. Both in accepted terms of pollution and noise, and in terms of the desperation and anguish it fills the air with.
I am currently in the outskirts of this vortex and I will soon try to cross it. I can’t help thinking of Edgar Allen Poe and his story Descent into the maelstrom