Tuesday, May 27

Epic Sorta

We are back.

I am safely and comfortably back in my cozy room. It is even cozier because the floor is covered by pretty much all the clothes I own. I haven't worked up the energy to sort out the daunting amount of laundry yet. For all of its oppressiveness, Nacogdoches was a welcome sight. I know the streets here. I know where to find stores, food, and friends. And we have a shower. Showers are good.

My first "epic" road trip turned out to be an "epic" learning experience. Presented in list form, in no particular order.

1)
"I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within."
-Lillian Smith
I learned that for a journey to actually take you somewhere, you have to create space. What we did was compress it. Every minute we were traveling, seeing, or getting some much needed rest. There was no room to grow, no space outside the lines. If you are constantly moving, then whatever you are looking for is never going to catch up with you, or you will pass right by it.

2)
"The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see."
-Gilbert K. Chesterton
I hate gift shops. Every. Single. One. They are all the same. I traveled thousands of miles to end up in the same exact room everywhere I went. I only went into them because I needed post cards and a gift for my parents. Where ever the tourists are, thats where I don't want to be. I couldn't bring myself to walk around Los Angeles or San Francisco with my clunker of a camera. I want to be anonymous, mysterious, of unknown origin, not a cliche. There is a time for the touristy things. I have no idea when it is, certainly not now. Whenever you see cameras and faces turned, question whether there is really something there to see, or what it really is they are looking at.

3)
"Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything."
-Charles Kuralt
Always, always, ALWAYS, take the back roads. Always. They may not be faster, but they have more to offer.

4)
"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving"
-Lao Tzu
This was the biggest mistake I feel I made. Lists are NO GOOD. I promise you. If you want a vacation then plan away and be specific, but if you want to go, then leave your itinerary at home with half the stuff you wanted to pack. The only thing you need is to be willing to experience where you are headed, to experience life on the road. I will remember this. You should to. No dates. No reservations.

5)
"It is not down in any map; true places never are."
-Herman Melville
It doesn't matter where you go if you are going just to go. I now believe this even stronger than I did before. Places are experienced by the individual. They are subjective. They are personal. They are tied to the nature of our character, our desire, our happiness, our fears and our failures. I truly believe, your latitude and longitude at any given time have absolutely no impact on anything besides the weather. If you are trying to find God, or yourself, you are never going to find it on a map. This is a very hard thing to learn. I love maps; I love to just look at them. But I think I look at them a little bit differently now. The word "map" means something a little bit different now. I can't quite explain it.

So, fellow aspiring adventurers, learn from my mistakes. I am not done. I am more prepared for the next time, or less prepared, depending on how you look at it.

There were a few spots along the way where I found some peace and quiet, and had some space to think and pray. A boulder in New Mexico with a view that stretched for miles and miles. A pier in San Francisco that was deserted on a Monday by everyone except the seagulls. Among the reeds of a lake in Utah, the sky cold and threatening rain. After dark in Colorado beside a river swollen from freshly melted snow. These little escapes are worth all the world to me. Much like my back porch, when it is raining in the forest, with a mug of tea, and the quiet buzz of a student-less city, much softer than the deafening silence of the desert.

2 comments:

the photoSmith said...

Glad you made it back. I don't think I can say it enough, I'm jealous. It's always good to be able to take something away and learn from your experiences. If you ever want to have an adventure to Houston let me know, I know of a nice place in the country...

Teysha Faith said...

I like lists. I will respond according to the numbers you so kindly "mapped" out.

1) first of all, did you google "cool traveling quotes" or just have these ready to go, sticky-noted onto your bible? I am upset to hear that this "space" you speak of wasn't as ample as you would have liked or needed. regardless, you'll always remember this experience and you've already pulled some intelligent lessons out of it.

2) gift shops suck. and tourist traps do too. I feel ya, boy.

3) that's why I take the 7-hour route from nac when I could easily take the I-20 one and get home quicker. but sometimes interstates are just practical... horrible reality.

4) have you not seen a road trip movie ever? duh paul. plans are of the devil.

...ok a little drastic. but still... diablo.

5) I like what you said here. and I am glad you found a nice boulder with a view. those are hard to find nowadays.

glad you made it back safely and apparently without car trouble. god bless america.