"What moves you if the senses do not spur? Light moves you." —Dante, PurgatorioDriving south on 57, just before Champaign, I noticed the engine light was on. The engine light had never, to my memory, come on, not in the 11 years we've had the Honda Odyssey. I had driven about 150 miles and had another 100 miles to go. The last thing I wanted was to break down in Southern Illinois, land of pick-up trucks, both Chevy AND Ford.
"With this, my mind withdrew into itself, with what imagining might bring to it."I got off the highway at University Avenue. At a gas station, I plugged "What does the engine light on a Honda Odyssey mean?" into Google and found a bunch of articles damning the vagueness of the signal. It could mean anything from a faulty oxygen sensor to a balky catalytic converter to a loose gas cap. I got out and tightened the gas cap. The light stayed on. But none of the meanings seemed to be something serious enough to strand a person in downstate Illinois. That was reassuring.
"Ye shall gather some useful fruit from our delaying here."Still, better safe than sorry. I used my iPhone to locate the local Champaign Honda dealer and phoned their service department. The mechanic could, he said, run a diagnostic. It would cost $110 and take 90 minutes. That 90 minutes was the problem. I had a story to sniff out, and didn't want to take the time.
"But it's not something pressing?" I said, half asking, half suggesting. "It can wait until I get back to Chicago. It'll last another couple hundred miles?"
He said that yes, it could wait. "If the engine light isn't flashing, you're okay," he said. I was reassured—there was a level of warning more dire than this one—and decided I would continue on my way, and let the Odyssey fall into the strong arms of Muller Honda when I return.
"Everyone apprehends dimly, and craves a good at which a mind maybe be at rest."Tell it, my brother. I was listening to Heathcote Williams read Dante's "Purgatorio" -- Dante is always relevant. "Promise much, but deliver little," a sufferer tells Dante in "Inferno," summarizing the advice that landed him in Hell. (Maybe his timing was off; the same strategy landed Donald Trump in the White House).
But I smiled slightly, hearing the faintest echo of my engine light saga in the Divine Comedy — Canto 17, for those keeping track. It made me wonder whether the relevance is there at all, or something that I layer over it, trying to justify the time spent listening. Not that it's necessary. The words are enough.