August 23, 2010

A brief departure

When it is all stripped away, what would you do if there was nothing holding you back?

As a follow up to yesterday's post, I have been thinking about what I could/should/might do with this life of mine. In the past year or so, several things have been stripped away from my own ledger. No spouse, no house, and smaller expenses. I still have my own obligations and debt that must be tended to, and I am mostly treading water at this point, but the load is lighter than it once was. Not that this is where I wanted to be, but this could be looked upon as a golden opportunity. With a lighter obligation side of the ledger, and with my decisions mostly affecting only myself, I could get busy pursuing my bliss.

But were the obligations really holding me back? Many of us strain against these real and imagined chains that hold us back from pursuing our bliss. "If only I could cut my bills in half, get a different job, buy a smaller place, had more time, I could get on with LIVING!" But so many of us when given the time, we don't know what to do with it. We might be suddenly unemployed, and have an extra 40 hours a week that we didn't have before, but rarely do we use that time to chase after our bliss. Suddenly those chains that we thought were holding us back fall away, and we realize that we still aren't moving forward.

We cannot wait for those perfect circumstances to arrive before we pursue our life goals and follow our bliss. We must start along the road before it is entirely open. So many success stories start with something like, "I got up at 4:30am every day before the world was awake so I could write/study/create." Once we start carving out spare minutes and moving forward, we begin to evaluate and adjust how we spend our time to prioritize what is important.

For my own part, I never really felt like I was being held back. I had it pretty good, with enough time that I could waste it. No, it wasn't for lack of time or the chains of obligation, it was from lack of a clear idea of what bliss might mean. Now, I have all the time I need to stare at the ocean for answers, but still none have bubbled up from the foam.

But we all have some vague thoughts of what we would like to do, if we could. What were my dreams if I could turn my back on my life for a while? One recurring image is Thoreau-like. To go off to a cabin in the woods to strip away all the excess, live simply, and see if beneath all the clutter there wasn't something I had been missing. I somehow believed in this little fantasy that I would suddenly begin to write like I had always wanted to. But like those imagined chains, I don't need to make drastic changes to be able to write. I have all the time I need right now, but I so often stare at the blank page (when I bother to sit down in front of it).

One of the other visions I have had looks a little like this:

I have long had the desire to take a few months and see this great country of ours. To hit the road with only the vaguest of plans, gathering adventures, stories, and yes a few souvenir stickers along the way. The original plan was by motorcycle, but these days a Honda Element is more the imagined vehicle. Of course my car would have a bike rack instead of a canoe rack. And biking across America remains a dream as well.

It is still possible, and who knows, I may just make it happen. I know the pooch would not enjoy the journey, so that is of course something to consider. But there are always solutions, and I don't need to imagine any more barriers than already exist.

I actually briefly considered the Jet Blue "All You Can Jet Pass". The pass allowed you to fly anywhere Jet Blue flies, for a month. It was tempting, but I decided it wasn't what I was looking for (they sold out almost immediately anyway). For now, I am headed out on a little one-week adventure. I was already planning on visiting a friend in Arizona for a long weekend, and now work has slowed enough that I can extend it to a week. I have decided to visit the Grand Canyon on the way. I haven't seen it in almost, *cough*, 35 years, so why not!? It is a natural wonder of the world for crying out loud, just a day's drive away. And I have the time.

I don't have to run off to the woods to clear away the clutter - sometimes just being on the road for a while will do. And maybe the expansive canyon will hold more answers than the ocean has proposed so far. At any rate, I hope to get some writing done. I may disappear for a few days, depending on wifi access, but I will resurface, hopefully with a story worth telling.

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