In surreal and fleeting moments of gun-to-my-head honesty, I have often wondered if my unrelenting Wanderlust somehow conspires with seductive Back Roads and Boondocks to form a subconscious avoidance mechanism (excuses) that keeps me so preoccupied with what I'd rather be doing that I can't seem to get around to what I should be doing. Chew on that and let me know if you have similar weaknesses…
And as long as the "gun" is to my head, let me freely admit that my life aspirations have always been simple and few (BANG). No, it's true, I've never had a five gallon "bucket list" overflowing with excessive travel aspirations to exotic destinations—squalid bug infested places where I must flirt with restless natives, malaria, and, Lordy, microorganisms that want to migrate up my bunghole and propagate—all to "bag" the mating ritual of the Wattled Curassow or sneak up on Jane Goodall's Killer Gorillas in the Mist. Bare-skinned adventures-with-infectious-disease expeditions make me woozy and only serve to line the pockets of non-local Tour Guides Inc. at the expense of my terminally ill Money Tree. I'll leave seeing the entire world to the "Suzannes" and "Goodalls," God bless 'em, because the abundance of nooks and crannies right here in my western backyard that I've yet to lay eyes on, much less photograph, watercolor, or aggrandized in ink is enough to stun Lewis and Clark.
Let's talk about "Escape Artists." Man, it's so fun and easy to burn a day, a week, months...the rest of my life on the road. I mean who doesn't want to pile in the car with Jack Kerouac at the wheel, get high and go "On The Road" where the past is always behind you and the future lies just over the next rise. There are so many places yet to see and to see again. We, to some measure, were finally able to live that dream—spent years scurrying around from one magnificent feast for the eyes to the next. Mom used to quote me some biblical parable: "The eyes are always feasting but never full." She was right, the Road can be a crack cocaine diversion—a Monkey on the back. I have yet to encounter the "Last Supper," a time and place where I can say I've seen it all, or, at least, I've seen enough. And thus, I never got around to the other—possibly more meaningful—things I wanted to pursue. They got relegated to the back burner, a closet or the backseat...buried under roadmaps, mountain bikes, hiking boots and the occasional assembly line.
I'm truly not the most ambitious person in the world, nor the most astute. But, to borrow a lyrical thought from the Beatles, I know me and I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. We are all human beings with likeminded dreams, and dreams cut through every barrier of geography, culture, ethnicity, religion, race and color. Dreams are our common denominator. “All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together.” Yeah, Kerouac knew The Road was just another drug…another "excuse" to postpone real "life." Again, in angst, “I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop. This is the night...what it does to you. I (have) nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” Man, does that sound familiar…
You can't have it all, so exercise care in what you choose. Choices come with consequences. In "Alone but Never Lonely," Suzanne chose the "world" at the expense of relationships, security, and savings. It's a cruel irony, that if one truly focuses on one passion they end up paying for it with another. If history predicts future events, I'll never choose one thing. As with Kerouac, "I like too many things…" Each additional apple one chooses to juggle increases the chance of failure. It takes single minded focus to rise above mediocrity; ask your parents, ask any Olympian...ask Jack Kerouac. Becoming a competent Artist is hard work. It's a marriage to which one must dedicate their life—be a faithful lover—or else it falls apart.
It seems to me that if it's in your heart to do something, you really owe it to yourself to do it...at least give it a go. Action is the wheel of good intentions. Lord knows I'm full of good intentions; escape artists always are. A wanderer must travel; a photographer must shoot; a writer must scribble; a painter must take up his brush; a musician must play; a dancer must twirl—it's the only way they can connect "dots," make sense out of chaos, and discover who they are. Left Brainers are usually content to go to work, lucky bastards.
So I'm asking, here—and please don't take this the wrong way because I love my RV demographic to death and count myself among them. It's something I wonder about when I've been on the road too long, or when trapped in a Purgatory Induced State of "Reflection." Does it ever cross your mind like it does mine, that a constant "On The Road" gotta go-gotta go, see-it-all-three-times-over, follow the sun, notch the belt, bedpost, and pistol grip kind of life is…is…well, enough? Again, Kerouac:
“Sal, we gotta go and never stop going 'till we get there.'
'Where we going, man?'
'I don't know but we gotta go.”
It takes most of us the better part of our lives to understand that patience is more powerful and effective than force.
Who does it serve? What does it serve? Could it be an "avoidance mechanism" for a different, more difficult dream, one that has the power to silence once and for all the hopes and voices that come in the night, the dream you never dared to share with anyone?
This "forced sabbatical" has stolen my primary avoidance mechanism, The Road. It's flung wide open a door of opportunity, to engage other endeavors in my little "bucket" instead of engaging a "clutch" and zooming off in search of something easier. Creative Juices are watered down by superfluous busyness of our own making. Somedays it seems as though I barely have enough time and energy to blog, let alone write a book or pick up a brush after hiking, biking, and chasing horizons.
In hindsight, maybe "enough" isn't the right word. Maybe it's more about priorities, self discipline, and "New Territory" that has nothing to do with horizons and asphalt. You don't have to have wide open blue Montana skies with golden wheat fields bending in the breeze in order to take a "journey."
Here's the question I ponder. What do I want to have to show for the next five years of my life...five years from now, and do I want it to be the same routine I have to show for the previous five years? It's a very tough question—telling—and it gets tougher the older we get, to avoid becoming a creature of habit, to not rest on our Lazy Boy laurels. Like Kerouac, “My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them...what's in store for me in the direction I don't take?” If we knew that, it wouldn't be a risk or challenge, and if it's not a risk or challenge is it worth doing? At a time when the majority of one's "sand" lies at the bottom of the Hourglass there is little time to act. Make no mistake, I'm not just talking about "Art" here. Insert your own dilemma de jour.
I'll leave you with this. "In the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” (Kerouac)
As you may have guessed, the climb up my "mountain" has begun. I no longer fear the brush or procrastinate the book; they have been relaunched. Actually, I am doing my best to focus on the process—the new journey—rather than "success." The odds against something worthy should not be considered. But to be honest, there are moments when I think "potential realizing and purposeful living" are highly overrated. There are days when I'd rather chuck it all, engage the clutch and take the easy Road... "channel surfing" with gasoline and a camera.
“My whole wretched life swam before my weary eyes, and I realized no matter what you do it's bound to be a waste of time in the end so you might as well go mad.”
“Pain or love or danger makes you real again….”
“He saw that all the struggles of life were incessant, laborious, painful, that nothing was done quickly, without labor, that it had to undergo a thousand fondlings, revisings, moldings, addings, removings, graftings, tearings, correctings, smoothings, rebuildings, reconsiderings, nailings, tackings, chippings, hammerings, hoistings, connectings — all the poor fumbling uncertain incompletions of human endeavor. They went on forever and were forever incomplete, far from perfect, refined, or smooth, full of terrible memories of failure and fears of failure, yet, in the way of things, somehow noble, complete, and shining in the end.”