There is a very good chance i had what Louden Swain (Matthew Modine) referred to as a "vision quest" in the 1985 movie of the same name. Mine came not whilst wrestling for a state title and sleeping with a supermodel runaway my dad took in as a roomate. Instead a simple dream whilst sleeping, two nights ago. In my dream (vision) i was riding in Tucson at tonights alleycat. I am racing down a poorly lit street tucked as aero as possible on Lucky's bullhorns. Like most of my dreams I am watching myself instead of first person. This time from the same angle as the motorcycles that follow the Tour de France with cameras, except there is no sound of a motorcycle engine. There is no traffic at all in fact. Just the sound of me breathing and my wheels as they are cutting through the dusty night air. Its fucking beautiful. Instead of my normal unsightly gait, my body sways only slightly as i pedal. My legs pistoning like they are powered via internal combustion. I am moving quickly from the dark shadows to the cones of light thrown by the underpowered street lights. The moment is perfection. My cadence is workable, i am on top of the gear inches, and my stroke is precise and smooth. Then i spot a rider in front of me. He is tucked like me and moving fast. A single thought repeats in my head; "One man to beat. One man to beat." I am gaining. The question is; can i keep my effort up long enough to overtake him? The scene resembles a time trial as we race down the empty street together. One man running, the other in pursuit. I gain enough on the rider to realize I can indeed overtake him. I am stronger then him. I tuck my head down, pull my lips back into a tight smile and dig a little deeper. As our machines even up i glance over at him to see if i can gage his effort, see what he has left in the tank. He does the same to me. I smile. He grimmaces in pain. He cant hold my wheel. Gone....
I often wake from dreams that involve my participating in sporting events of any kind thinking that perhaps I am watching myself from my fathers point of view. If i could add up all the hours my father spent on sidelines or bleachers watching me compete or practice in any one of a myriad of sports, it would probably equal 5 or six years of his life. Quite a commitment. Louden Swain didnt have the benefit of a network of support like that. When his father figure does arrive for his wrestling match one of the most beautiful and poignant moments of the film transpires. A moment where you see a hard man admit that he finds beauty in the transcendence of the human condition through sport and mans struggle to ultimately define himself through that sport.
Excerpt from the movie Vision quest:
Louden Swain: You never took a night off to see me wrestle before. They'll dock you for that.
Elmo: Hey, kid - money ain't everything.
Louden Swain: It's not that big a deal, Elmo. I mean, it's six lousy minutes on the mat, if that.
Elmo: You ever hear of Pele?
Louden Swain: Yeah, he's a, a soccer player.
Elmo: A very famous soccer player.
Elmo: I was in the room here one day... watchin' the Mexican channel on TV. I don't know nothin' about Pele. I'm watchin' what this guy can do with a ball and his feet. Next thing I know, he jumps in the air and flips into a somersault and kicks the ball in - upside down and backwards... the goddamn goalie never knew what the fuck hit him. Pele gets excited and he rips off his jersey and starts running around the stadium waving it around his head. Everybody's screaming in Spanish. I'm here, sitting alone in my room, and I start crying.
Elmo: That's right, I start crying. Because another human being, a species that I happen to belong to, could kick a ball, and lift himself, and the rest of us sad-assed human beings, up to a better place to be, if only for a minute... let me tell ya, kid - it was pretty goddamned glorious. It ain't the six minutes... it's what happens in that six minutes.
Perhaps that "one man I need to beat" is actually me.
I will see you on the road in the old pueblo tonight.