Hey there folks,
I started (re)reading On the Road by the infamous beatnik, Jack Kerouac, once again, and I must say – it’s even better a second time around.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve accomplished two Caminos and many travels since I first read it years ago. Or perhaps in my current state of longing for the road it speaks louder to me these days.
More so because it’s a timeless American classic. And, yes, I will fight you if you believe otherwise.
Moving on – it’s a brilliant book and one I think every person capable of reading needs to have a go at. Caused quite a stir when it was first published, what, with all the sex, drugs, and disregard for societal expectations. Young men should be getting jobs and raising families, not chasing their head-in-the-cloud dreams!
And how doth the latter speak to me.
[…] I’d often dreamed of going West to see the country, always vaguely planning and never taking off.
And what truer words could ever open a book than those above? Indeed, how many of us have made all those grand plans to see the world and travel, to experience new things and customs, to abandon our comfort zones and embrace the unknown?
And how many more of us have simply let those very same plans wither and die; another faceless stone added to a mountain of missed opportunities.
“It’s too expensive,” you might say.
“What will people think?” asks the worthless one.
“I can’t afford that in my career at the moment,” is a typical response.
“It’s crazy! I can’t just pick up and leave. What about X, Y, and Z?” asks the worry wart.
Indeed, all valid points if you constrain yourself to societal expectations and lack of imagination, choosing to sacrifice your once vivid dreams on the altar of comfort and inactivity.
Now, this isn’t to say being career-minded is a bad thing. Nor are X, Y, and Z things to scoff at and ignore. Indeed – we all have our things that motivate us and goad us onward or keep us in place. Some of these things cannot be helped: having a family that needs you, being at peace within your home, things of that nature.
I just happen to hold a viewpoint that is in the minority.
But the best travelers are those who have asked those questions, and, finding no solid answers in their current affairs, simply put one foot in front of the other until they found them.
Too hell with the cost. Money is a man-made concept anyway; why let it dictate your future?
Who gives a shit what people think? Even though everyone thought he was mad, Columbus still stumbled upon the Americas – no one remembers the naysayers.
And careers? As we say on Camino, “There’s always a bed.”
And what about X, Y, and Z? Why not try A, B, and C for once?
Too often people give up on their dreams before making a genuine effort to pursue them. The cloud of fear and doubt smothers any potential buds. They simply vaguely plan about going out West and never execute; before long, in their dotage, those vague plans are now even vaguer memories.
Don’t be that person, reader. Pursue your dream. Whatever it is, pursue it.
As a youth, I was constantly on the move. Driving with my dad and brother to New Mexico for the first time as a toddler is my oldest, and fondest, memory.
We had to take the bus to school (approximately 30 – 45 minutes each way since we lived in the country) and if we needed anything from town, my horde of siblings and I would be bundled up into the suburban to invade the nearest locale.
Being proud Swiss, my folks made sure we participated in the annual schwingfest in Holtville.
California. Some 14 hours or so by car.
Yep. From the plains of New Mexico, we drove to California in a day, to wrestle for half a day, and still made it back in time for school on Monday.
At military school, I was introduced to my first true international climate: cadets hailed from all corners of the globe. And we were all in the same shit together. And if I wanted to go home, receive family visitors, or get far enough away to break the rules against alcohol consumption, it was another long, lonesome drive to make it happen.
In Boy Scouts, we toured the United States, Canada, and Switzerland. Yep – lots of driving. And after wearing a goofy uniform throughout the world, you tend to not really care what others might think of your appearance.
College in Fort Worth? Six hour drive to get home.
Albuquerque? Four hours to visit Lea County.
Driving on long, empty roads for hours to get anywhere is simply a part of what I am.
Next week I head to Utah to visit a woman I met on Camino Secondus. We only shared three days together on the Way, but, hey, that’s more than enough to build timeless rapport. And now that she’s finally arranged a reunion between like-minded individuals (if you will), it’s time to pack up and head out.
Like Sal Paradise, I’m attracted to these kinds of people. The types who throw caution to the wind and say, “to hell with this,” strap a bag upon their back and take off through their front door, never bothering nor minding what lays behind, but only looking forward to what is beyond. The kind of people who realize we weren’t meant to work for a living but to live for a living; who see beauty in each day, every moment; who find the rolling clouds and plain grass just as thrilling as the booming thunder or roaring ocean; the kind of people who drink, smoke, fuck, and laugh all in one breath and smile at funerals; the same nutters who question everything and accept no answers as adequate; the ones who see the absurdness of reality and create their own instead.
Because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
Time to get back out on the road. To chase that high, share some laughs, and indulge in the world we all get to experience.
Pursue your dream, comrade, and let neither doubt nor fear stand in your path. In the words of Ensiferum,
I am, you are, no one’s slave
No man or god they have made.
What are you afraid of?