In 2008, my “interludes” while traveling did not go perfectly. They generally degenerated, after a few calm days, into impatience and a mad searching for signs & answers as to what step is next. This year has been different. My visit home in May was quite nice, and the rest of July continued that theme.
Once off the bus and in the apartment, I literally exhaled and collapsed from mental exhaustion. I proceeded to sleep and do little else for the better part of the first week. Chris and I had left our futures open-ended, and didn’t communicate at all that first week as he settled into whatever Denver held for him, and I basked in the old routines and familiar surroundings hoping to do a bit of a study of what had changed from a familiar perch. Perspective is a constant battle.
The first thing I noticed was that I was in no way clear that I wanted to return to the road anytime soon, if at all. I had told Laina and Chris that, on some level I was afraid that confronting my age-old demons in Michigan would leave me motivationally impotent after being the frustration-fuel for so long. I had attacked this peculiar, inwardly directed anger and seemingly neutralized it, but was afraid complacency would now take its place. Someone asked me once what motivated me to “succeed.” I was surprised myself to learn that it was indeed this anger and my healthy ego needing to “show people” something. Externalization and adapting an identity-through-praise; pure, unadulterated ego and an attempt to fill a cavernous, festering sore with someone else's skin. No wonder it was infected.
The end of this cycle was when I hit a mental rock bottom in 2004, which led to meeting Chris via his website. These two events directly connect; it was the first time I seriously considered jumping into a backpack and setting off to eliminate life’s fat in an effort to see what was truly necessary; what was real. It was also around the same time I began to take Thoreau seriously, which then led me to Gandhi’s ideas on unfiltered truth. Authenticity. I wondered now what that pursuit meant, and whether it still involved backpacking around the country and beyond. I could not answer that, but I knew in my core that something had at least fundamentally changed as to the method and purpose.
Laina and I went camping, of all things, the first weekend I was here and once on the road had a great time driving toward Pecos Canyon and sitting around the little fire drinking beer. It was the most relaxed I could remember being in a very long time, and we chatted about all sorts of things past and future. It was the perfect escape even though it was only for one beautiful, calm night. I had also had an odd conversation with Chris that Saturday afternoon. He had seemed quite lost, not exactly sure what he was doing in Denver, and I was of little help. We had truly disconnected and were on our own little quests where neither could help the other. I was quite sure he would figure it out soon enough, and it took about two days until he was happily announcing a regained energy and focus.
Over the next couple of weeks, things began to sort themselves out. After the events of June slowly but surely began to make their way to the appropriate places in the recesses of my mind, I began to notice a tangible difference in my thinking. With a gentle nudge from Shelly, I began using my father’s last name; changing it on Facebook and various email accounts as a way of getting other people (and myself) used to it. Essentially, that is the name I use now and will complete the legal paperwork soon. That was a rather bold step for me, considering that I have been quite the thorn in the saddle of some people over the past couple of months. I have no idea how Pam and Kim have reacted to it, still not hearing from either since April. Right or wrong, on some level I kind of hope it stings as a reminder every time they see it. I also began one final blog transfer, although to date it is still not ready for full activation. I have been delaying while trying to decide rather or not to begin an actual full-blown website. In all likelihood, this will happen, in URL at least. This will be the third and final one. I like the procession of the three, from Running with the Wind, to Te Nosce (Know Thyself), to this new one.
I also began to find myself keenly annoyed when I occasionally would find myself looking backwards, beyond May 20, 2008. My focus is now forward, and integrating what I had learned over the last 15-months into whatever is to come. This would turn out to be some massive, unknown foreshadowing, and was quite astounding for a man historically haunted by ghosts. Not even real ghosts as it turned out but of course, those fabricated by victimist-thinking, creating little make-believe scenarios, and then letting them become a framework for an outlook on life and identity. Pathetic? Yes. The annoyance stemmed from just REALIZING how fucking pathetic and misguided it really was. This is obviously an important conclusion, but it also opens up what could be Pandora’s Box. Inside the box: "What is next? Have the travels of the last year and the visions of future adventures sprouted from within this rusted, rotting framework?" Tough questions to ask, but they obviously needed to be. I was afraid that this was the source of the misgivings about setting out again.
Chris and I had a good conversation around the 25th where we candidly discussed the future and what it was each of us was hoping to do. I did not let on about my questions, and thankfully so because things were rapidly changing. He had begun making a ton of progress bouncing around Denver, having several discussions with Robert, the Post-Apocalypse class teacher I had met in March, about a pseudo plan that was developing. This “plan” entailed riding with them to San Francisco then Seattle on what sounded like a bit of a boat scavenger hunt. Yes. A boat. Penny (Robert’s girlfriend) and Robert had made plans to quit their jobs, hop in their veggie powered, self-contained blacksmithing van, and head toward the Northwest, presumably to seek out like-minded people and begin unplugging from what is viewed a steadily collapsing system. A system that at the same time is clearly closing in on all sides. The boat? A sailboat that would eventually be capable of sailing at least to Central and South America, and at most crosses oceans. The trip to San Francisco would be to network with friends-of-friends who would “be more than happy to teach us to sail it.” This conversation shot my energy level through the roof and we quickly found ourselves scheming ways to re-connect in August heading toward Wendie’s place on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, perhaps via the Bay Area. It slowly became apparent that perhaps I’d had enough of wandering for wandering’s sake. Now maybe it was time to get busy building something. Building what? Well, THAT IS for another post. Sorry Steve-O!
After this conversation, things seemed back to normal and we tentatively set August 4th as a date that would see him depart Denver for his “week alone in the mountains.” In the interim, we could discuss ways to meet somewhere. Somewhere like Boise, and Lynn’s place? Penny and Robert’s ideas triggered further discussions about my friend Amber in San Diego. She has continuously suggested that she “may” be interested in joining us if /when we venture into Mexico, or further. She holds dual citizenship, speaks fluent Spanish, has WWOOF-ing experience in Italy, and would be a huge help to a vagabonding troupe of gringos speaking next to no Spanish! Amber’s trouble is her family, and the fact that she is 21. No problem for me, since she does not act like a ditz, but she has traditionally been torn between going to school and living her life. Her family is also Hispanic, so there is a pressure to remain close to family. A pressure that Whitey does not always comprehend. This sent us on wild conversations about possibly meeting Penny and Robert in places like Moab, Flagstaff, Taos, or anywhere else, that may put the four of us on course toward San Diego.
Toward the end of the month, these “plans” began to get a bit more complicated due to the simple and obvious fact that we are four people who hate making plans. The obvious question then is how do four people in three different places (Penny and Robert are bound for S. New Mexico 8/9) connect… without plans?
Are you seeing a lack of cohesiveness here?
Friends, this is the aforementioned “Limbo” and a good example of your author’s feeble attempts to manipulate the fates; forgetting…again…the all too familiar reminder to, all together now, SIT DOWN & SHUT UP!
On August 1, 2009, your humble scribe would be grabbed tightly by the metaphorical throat and slammed into his seat, complete with duct tape around the mouth and wrist to force further introspection that is more genuine and a long overdue--but now possible--evaluation of purpose and ego. What will follow is for me easily the saddest and most dramatic event to date, including 2008. You folks in Denver and Colorado will take a keen interest in this when it's finally posted.
I did it to you twice Steve. In radio, they call these teases! In Te Noscestan, we call it preventing an overload.
Travel stories and the occasional rantings of an evolving cynic who's simply in search of a little human authenticity. Tales include hitching across the Rockies with an eventual cop-killer, a weekend with a terminally-ill billionaire, meeting my siblings for the first time, trips to Mexico, and scores of random people from Mass.-Slab City-Chiapas who are often even more interesting...for better or worse!
"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan