The season for Old World Wisconsin ends in October. Steve and I are gearing up for a 2-3 week road trip. We have about 9 possible itineraries, National Forests and Parks mostly. We’ve come to call this “our trip to metaphorical Maine” because although Maine is one of the top contenders, it is really just serving as the title of an unknown eventual destination. This is how Steve prefers to travel, and he is teaching me to appreciate the spirit of living in the moment rather than planning for safety and control. Not that Steve is an “extreme” kind of guy, a risk-taker for the sake of it, or anything like that. It’s really more a Zen kind of thing of being aware of conditions as they arise and dancing with them rather than putting on blinders and sticking to a railroad track.
We recently borrowed the DVD of “The Sheltering Sky” starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich. I’m sure the book was better, but the film has some terrific cinematic landscapes and brings up a lot of interesting questions. Like, “What is the difference between a tourist and a traveler?” A tourist wants the comforts of home. A traveler seeks adventure. I recently had a conversation with a co-worker who talked about a visit to France and only mentioned that there were no bugs or birds and that French waiters substitute Sprite for lemonade. This guy never thought he’d leave the country in his lifetime. Maybe he shouldn’t have!
I feel like I have been working on my personal demons (neuroses, grief, all that baggage) and have gained some courage and self-confidence since our last big trip. I did have one memorable meltdown in a rest stop off the highway in the pouring rain from about 2-4 in the a.m. That was April of 2011, and we were on the road for 4 weeks. Here’s a shot taken somewhere near the Colorado River in Utah that illustrates one of the many decision discussions we had. Do you want to take this road or not? Why?
There’s no “right answer” and there’s no judgement, Steve told me. “I just want to know what you think about when you make decisions.” What are we here for? What do we call “living”? Is it “to be safe and have children and grandchildren”? Is it “to learn to praise God and serve Him”? There are a million ways to answer that question. Steve describes his answer to me every time we have a conversation. He wants to meet life with awareness, engage in nuance and complexity, question and think critically, try to discover delusion, respond in the moment to what is before him, and participate in the adventure of living, as holistically as he can. Yesterday, I read a short science fiction story by E.M. Forster called “The Machine Stops”. It describes a futuristic world where the human race is run by Machine and never ventures to the surface of the earth. It’s eerie how much that could be the life of modern individuals plugged into the Internet with no experience of the physical phenomenons of Earth. What kind of life do I really want to live? What kind of courage do I have to face the adventure of living? Do I prefer comfort to challenge? These are good questions to take out for a road test. I’m looking forward to it!
Many questions. Sounds like you have answered many for yourself-hope your enjoy “road testing” many more.
Me, too! L’chaim!
Great post, Scilla. you ask good questions. Good luck. Safe journey. And I look forward to hearing all about it.
Thanks, Naomi! Perhaps there’ll be a book…
I’m you could do it, Scilla, and I’ll be wanting to get my copy autographed.
I like adventurous comfort 😉
Like stalking a really good G & T, perhaps?
There may not be a “right” answer, but there is a “smart” answer. Smartmotorist.com says:
Never drive through moving water if you can’t see the ground through it; your car could be swept off the road.
When driving through a puddle of uncertain depth, go slow. If it’s deeper than the bottom of your doors, turn around and find another route. Deep water can cause serious damage to a modern car’s electrical system.
My VW Golf is slung low and my tolerance of spending time and money on automotive mishaps is slung even lower. That said, yes I want to take that road. Those would be my footsteps walking up to the edge to look over, to see how deep the water flowed, and my tire treads regretfully backing up.
Smart, logical, considered. And your desire is to go across…why? To see what’s on the other side? To feel the current? To experience something, right? But you know that you’d rather not experience an automotive mishap. It’s kind of interesting to consider how open we are to certain experiences and how closed we are to others.
I have this compulsion to see what is around the next bend. I hate to backtrack, not wanting to see what I’ve already seen before, despite the fact it always looks different going the other way anyway. To turn around is to open up to a new experience — the road not taken — as well as to let go of attachment to reaching any particular destination by a given time. It is very interesting to note what disappointment arises and how long it persists, as well as to delve into the nature of my desires and aversions. On the one hand, I appreciate them because they are the forces of my unique personality that have been honed through my half century of experience to create the kind of life that I enjoy. On the other hand, they can unduly affect my perception of what each moment offers in a way that limits my ability to live life to its fullest. Recently I have been working on making different choices than I habitually do just to break up the ruts. It’s kind of a mind game sometimes, but sometimes I discover how much I am not just the person I thought I was.