Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why there was a time when the world was a song

If I could, I would run away. I would go "out West," wherever that is, whatever that means. I would ride a Vespa across the country like that blogger did, and live in a log cabin with a coyote. I would spend the summer in Alaska; the winter in Key West. The next year I would do Maine/Costa Rica. Or Paris/South of France. What couldn't I do, where couldn't I go, with enough lifetimes to fill? 

I would road-trip across the U.S. via the northern route, and when I reached the end I would turn around and come back through the South. In my dream, I forget that I hate long car trips. In my dream I am indefatigable, and my body never becomes stiff and sore and cramped when confined to small spaces. In my dream I am endlessly pliable and relaxed, body and mind, never wondering "what's next?," only pondering what's now. 

I would hike the Pacific Crest Trail like that writer, or the Appalachian Trail like that other writer, and like thousands and thousands of people before me, never minding the idea's, by now, complete lack of originality, and never minding that my backpacking experience has mainly been limited to the distance between my house and the laundromat. In my dream I am strong and tough and capable and able to light a fire with only a pair of sticks through a combination of intuition and sheer determination. I am invincible. I am not afraid of bears and they are not afraid of me; when we meet we simply nod heads and go our separate ways. My heart beats faster, but only a little, and it's not because I'm scared but because it's not every day that you are able to speak without words to a bear. 

Or maybe I would travel through southeast Asia, that other stereotypical haunt of the seasoned backpacker. But why limit myself? As long as I'm there, why not do all of Asia? Throw in a smattering of Europe too and I'll be eating, praying, and loving all over the goddamn place. Nothing is original, anymore, and any idea I've had has already been had before. Books have been written and devoured and become best sellers, and even in my imagination mine are pale and flimsy in comparison. But what matters a book, a blog, when there's adventure and the open road and limitless time to dream? 

On the other hand, what matters goat farms and cheese-making, or solitary log cabins in the woods, or writers' cottages with views of the sea, or any number of lives you might like to try on if only you had unlimited lives in which to do it? Because the fact is, you have only one life (a whole one if you're lucky, perhaps less if you're not), and you have to do with it what you can, even if the one life you've landed on (out of all the myriad wonderful possibilities!), the one you've twisted and wrangled out of the ether, is the most mundane fucking one imaginable.

Because sometimes the great math problem that is life goes if x then not y, where x=freedom and world travel and communing with bears and y=comfort and community and health insurance and not dying impoverished and alone; or, to make this a more general example, where x=something you want and y=anything that is mutually exclusive of x, and suddenly you realize you are backed into a corner of your own making. On the one hand x, and on the other hand y, and you simultaneously must have and can't have both; like a spoiled child you quietly sulk in your corner. The only way out is ten ways, all at once, and bound by the laws of logic and physics and the space-time continuum, you are forced to remain in this, your own one body, here, in your own one life. It can get lonely here. And so sometimes, you dream.    



  1. I remember so many times when time and money were scarce and all we could afford was a Dreamcation.

  2. I feel that way sometimes too.

  3. Sometimes I read your blog and I wonder if I've stumbled upon some other blog that I write and don't know about? Because it's like you're always in my brain. I think we all yearn for x and for y, whether we have x or y or the capability or means for x or y. And when I'm sure I have one but not the other, I want to be grateful and present like you said; but then I only think about that time I had the other or wanted the other. How can we be all these things and people all at one time?

  4. I mailed off your prize yesterday if that makes you feel any better :)

  5. That last picture is beautiful!
    Whatever happened with Jeopardy?

    1. Thanks!

      And don't know, I haven't heard anything.

  6. Your writing is so clear and beautiful. You're very insightful, and I admire you and your writing very much.

  7. This post has me thinking of beautiful summers past and wishing adult life were more flexible.

  8. I usually manage to shush the part of my brain that craves x with the relative contentment of y. But this post has me clamoring for x. Sigh.

    I remember, with the first stable job I took, complaining to my mom that I'd be forced to stay in one place. She tried to cheer me up with, "You can always take vacations!" The idea was the saddest thing in the world at that moment.

    I fifth the great writing.