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Lions Roar : September 2014
Every night after I’d come back from the track or meetings with potential busi- ness associates, I’d practice yoga or set up the pillows of my hotel bed so I could meditate. One night I read joseph Camp- bell’s interviews with Bill Moyers. Camp- bell said that in his younger years he had a crisis and decided there was only one thing for him to do: he went to the woods to read for five years. I couldn’t stop think- ing about that. A week later, in Monterey, California, laura and I pulled into her driveway, not far from the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course. I paced laura’s Spanish house all night while she slept. A voice was telling methatIhadtowalkoutofthislifeIwas creating. The thought was terrifying, but I knew I needed to follow the voice that said: find out what’s really true. The next morning I woke up on a leather couch as the sun was rising. I was still wearing my nice shirt from dinner the night before and I could feel stubble grow- ing on my chin. laura was asleep. I’d left my suit coat in her room but I decided not to get it. I called a taxi, drove to the air- port, and took the first flight to Michigan, where I had an apartment I rarely visited. In the apartment, I put my toothbrush into a bag with books and a small singing bowl I used for meditation practice and got into my jeep. It was late February and I drove two snowy miles to see Paul New- man, who was visiting the Indy car offices for meetings. When I walked in, he looked up with concern. “You look terrible.” “I haven’t slept.” “You’re pale.” “You’re pale too,” I said. “Are you okay?” He gestured for me to sit down, his hands steady. I sat, and he held my gaze. “Have you ever read joseph Camp- bell?” I said. “Yes,” he answered. “As a matter of fact, I know Bill Moyers.” “Well, I’ve been reading their interview and at one point, Campbell says to Moy- ers, ‘I went to the woods and read for five years.’” “I can see where you’re going with this,” he said, squinting. “I need to leave this job.” He didn’t say anything. We just sat there in the stark white office. I studied his face, and he studied mine. My stomach was a knot. Why was doing the right thing so uncomfortable? “You know Sandy?” he said, looking toward the office door. Sandy was his secretary. “Yeah, I know Sandy.” “She always wanted to be an anthro- pologist. She’s great to have in the office. She’s kind to everyone who works here, but some days I can see that given differ- ent circumstances, she’d have been a great anthropologist.” I studied my own hands. “Do you know Dave?” “Do you mean the one who works as the engineer on Andretti’s car?” “Yes.” “He’s a brilliant mathematician. His dream is to teach kids. Michael, what do you want to do?” My eyes welled up. “I want to go to the woods and read for five years. I want to learn how to sit still. I want to hear less of my father’s harsh voice in my head all the time.” “That’s what you should do. You’re so young.” “I once asked your wife if you had a spiritual practice,” I said. “She told me that when you’re at home in Connecticut, you jump in the river behind your house. She thinks that’s what keeps your spiritual life alive. I don’t know what keeps my life alive.” “It’s almost March first,” Paul said, opening a drawer on his left. “I’m going to pay you for the rest of the year. Where will you go?” “WhenIwasakid,Ispentalotoftime in Algonquin Park, just north of Toronto. I think I’ll go there.” “You should go.” I turned onto the SAlty high- way. In Toronto, I traded my jeep for an old Volkswagen van. Then two days later, I found an empty gravel road in Algonquin SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2014 70