16 March 1964 / Karnataka, India

I can, at times, be an impatient man. When traveling, especially, I often find myself anxious at the slightest delay. Perhaps it's the result of too eagerly anticipating the experiences that await at my final destination. This is understandable, considering all the "action" I tend to find at journey's end, but it is negligent of me. I need to remember all of the beauty to be found in the out-of-the-way places one stumbles upon when "lost" or "detained by authorities." Today's train derailment brought me to one of those magical places, and I am grateful for it.

I feel that I should clarify that by "action," I meant adventure, be it spiritual, physical, or emotional, and not just the romantic kind. Although there is a lot of that, too.

Once it was established that all aboard my train were safe, I ascertained the reason for the derailment had simply been that there were no more tracks for it to follow. I guess the operators of this train line had assumed that the track would be finished by the time we reached it when they sold the tickets. But they were wrong.

We skidded to a stop a few miles outside of a town whose name I will probably never know, and I took to foot. I had been traveling to Pattabhi Jois' yogashala in Mysore, but in my haste to reach the enlightenment I thought resided there, I had insulated myself in my small but comfortable train berth. Once freed from the train, I felt the spiritual wealth of India swirl all around me. My luxury deadened senses came alive!

I decided to complete the rest of my journey as a Sadhu, a holy man. I flung my shoes into a nearby stream and smeared red clay over any skin I could expose. Then a temple appeared. Had it become visible to me only once I had opened myself to the spiritual possibilities of this land, or had the forward progress I achieved by walking simply decreased the distance between it and me to a point that my eyes could now discern its outline? That is for the cynics to debate.

I ran towards the temple, winking heartily at any person I met along the way. I also distributed the contents of my suitcase to any that would accept my gifts. And many did, because, though the people of this village were wealthy in the spiritual sense, they were miserably poor in the actual sense. By the time I reached the temple, a crowd had gathered around me. In this region, there is tremendous respect for both Sadhus and people who give things out to strangers, so I had caused quite a stir.

As it turns out, the architecture used in ancient temples is oddly interchangeable with that of modern train stations, and I had confused the two. Still! I had abandoned the idea of train travel and become a holy man, only to accidentally walk to the nearest train station.

It had to be a sign. I was ready to return to the life I left behind. The engineer told me that a new berth had been prepared for me, and assured me that there would be enough track to get me to Mysore. I am not sure I believe him, but I have grown enough spiritually to not care if he is wrong.