Grateful Dead and the Traveling Soul
I told Althea I was feeling lost
Lacking in some direction
Althea told me upon scrutiny
That my back might need protection
There are many tales as to how the Grateful Dead arrived at their name, but the best is rooted in pre-modern Britain, and can still be of help to any traveler looking to juice some new town karma.
So it goes that among the horse-pie ridden roads of ye ole England, among the daily melee of human, animal, and the yet to be discovered universe of microbial traffic, a passing traveler might spot a human corpse or two who’d been propped up in their wooden eternal home, on display at the front of certain institutional buildings. The intrepid traveler would know that these unfortunate souls hadn’t been so good at balancing their pre-modern budget. Having failed to pay off their worldly debts, their posthumous punishment would be rights to a proper burial, until somehow their deeds on earth coaxed some willing witness to satisfy the debtors.
Often the families of the deceased would gather their meager feudal bits together to put their tap-dancing Uncle Jack six feet under. Or perhaps Jack’s old buddies would send out ye ole collection plate and hope to let the essence of Jack get on its way.
Another option however presented an ethereal opportunity for the fresh newcomer. In order to get into the good graces of the gods of debt, Jack’s soul, and massage the town’s collective gestalt abit, a mindful traveler could take it upon themselves to void that debt. No doubt a bit of a financial setback, the eager to please traveler would toss their coin purse onto the block still, and with Jack finally liberated into the spirit world he could show his gratitude by helping ease the traveler’s way into town, helping to fulfill whatever might be their intentions.
Now, if you see corpses lining a modern town’s streets, I wouldn’t suggest sticking around too long (unless you’re in Tana Toraja). The moral of my reminder here is to help out my fellow travelers abit. So when riding into some new spot try and locate similarly unique ways to be charitable. You don’t believe in god? The afterlife? Karma? Or even a higher force? That’s A-Okay. But helping out a family or friend of the recently deceased is still something wonderful, that is looked kindly upon, and helps to lift us all not to mention your own spirit. and might help keep the existential travel devils at bay along your journey.
(For Jen Sotham, you will always remain in our wayward hearts)