When I was coming down the mountain from El Paso driving to Fort Stockton, the sun had long since set. Unlike coming down the grapevine in California from the bay area into Los Angeles, There were just a few semi's on this road. It was pretty desolate and very dark. The posted mileage was I think 80 mph, lowering to 70 only on the curves. I knew it was a downgrade because the road sloped down. The semis had to go slower because of the downgrade.
Even on the straight-always, for all I knew, the land dropped off into an abyss or gorge thousands of feet deep. I didn't know this road. No lights lit it. No town lights shown in the distance. I was alone and the road was becoming hypnotic in the dark. Only the little signs saying to slow to 70 at the curves, glimmered in the night.
So I slowed to 60 miles an hour. But that was not enough. How to keep my focus? I began to sing. I don't know traditional songs, so I make up my own songs. I told myself a story about the giant elephants with red lit tails. The tails were lit with strands of tiny red lights. These tails sashayed left and right as they walked, slowly, this way, then that, this way, then that.
As the elephants walked, they sang their sacred songs to honor all life. Now the elephants had been singing these songs for thousands of years, generation after generation. They knew them well. And yes the elephants walked they could hear the songs of the creatures around them – The song of the water, the song of the sky, the song of the birds, the song of the faraway mountains, and the song of the monkeys who came chattering along…
The elephants did not speak of these songs to humankind. Why should they? The monkeys dropped down from the trees to play on the elephants' backs as they walked, and once in a while a young man or young woman rode along.
Now at the very end of the elephants' trail, was a sacred lake which, when the humans had gone off, the elephants bathed in, in the moonlight. The monkeys and youth, if there were any, joined them. The lake was at the base of a sacred mountain. High on top of this mountain lived a wise Spirit. The elephants felt safe there. They took their time and they relaxed in the lake's waters.
"Oom ba, oom BA, oom ba, " The elephants would sing as they walked along the road. This was their way of drowning out any noise while the elephants connected with the Divine.
Their tails were lit with red lights so they could see to follow each other. Now of course the elephants did not need the lights to see because they could hear very well and they could certainly smell and use their other senses as well. But it was a time honored tradition for their tails to be lit with the red lights. The light swayed this way and that, right then left, and back again.
The elephants knew the sacred songs and the sacred ways and they were the keepers of the eternal sound.
Bend after bend, mile after mile, along the long dark road, my story went on. Each truck with its red lights behind it was another sacred elephant I passed. Eventually the ground sloped less and an elephant, or truck, passed me. Ecstatic, I sped up to keep him in my sights So that I could see the curves of the road before my car lights came up to them. Now this elephant did not care for my following him even though I was a mile or so behind him. First he sped up and I sped up too. When that didn't work, he slowed down, evidently hoping I would just pass him. I didn't want to do that, he was my guide through the darkness. So I slowed too.
Eventually I reached the turn off for my motel of the night in the town of Fort Stockton. I think the elephant was relieved to have my lights no longer following him.