No Yesterdays On The Road

I figured out long ago that I am only lonely when I’m with other people. I need vast amounts of time, and space.

Mississippi River Train Tracks

I mentioned in my very first blog about how “the clock is a cross that crucifies, home is a fence that imprisons.” Translated, I hate working and I love traveling. I am at my best with wind in my sails, the rush of the Unknown whipping through my hair and pelting me in the face.

“What do you have to do? Pack your bags. Go to the station without them. Catch the train. And leave your self behind.”  –  Wei Wu Wei

But what exactly does that entail, to venture out onto the open road and cast your fate to the wind? It means, first of all, to forsake the past. You can now:

  • scoop up your alarm clock and give it to the first guy you see wearing a suit
  • shred your calendar and stuff it in your backpack for when you run out of toilet paper
  • scribble “null & void” in big bold letters across the front of your fancy resume
  • snatch up a road map and play pin-the-tail on the donkey

Traveling means, in short, liberation from schedules and commitments. Rollin’ down the highway on cruise control also suspends any restrictive definition as to your occupation, or origins. You are not who you used to be – indeed, you are no longer shackled by any expectations whatsoever.

the open road

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—

The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,

Then how should I begin

To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

     And how should I presume?

That’s T. S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock lamenting the frustration that comes from being trapped in the tightening web of a shallow stereotype.

  • He’s weak, paralyzed with indecision, constantly asking: “Do I dare disturb the universe?”
  • He’s effete, confined to the boring chitchat of high society tea parties, unable to engage life except in tiny, predictable doses: “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”
  • He’s quite aware of his character flaws – “I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker/And in short, I was afraid” – but is way too timid to break out of his shell and sing his love song, say something heartfelt, breathe passion back into his life.

How many Prufrock’s are out there squandering precious moments? Do the masses “lead lives of quiet desperation,” as Thoreau claimed?

Yes, many dream what they will do when they finally grab the world by the balls. But the intensity of such a vision is like looking into the sun; they quickly avert their eyes and shrink back into the mundane.

“Habit is a great deadener,” notes Samuel Beckett. And to my way of thinking nothing good ever comes from mindlessly doing the same thing the same way over and over again.

Which is why I jump at every chance to be somewhere else. “In a world of fugitives,” wrote T. S. Eliot – and J. Alfred Prufrock certainly comes to mind – “the person taking the opposite direction will appear to run away.”

phosphate pit road

So – what’s out there, beyond the horizon? Besides the obvious, the chance to have fun & make new memories, there is also the ever-present opportunity to:

  • expand your horizon
  • fertilize your imagination
  • enlarge your consciousness
  • reinvent your self
  • grab hold of your future and sculpt it into . . . NOW

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

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