Forward. It can be the hardest direction to go because it is inherently into the unknown. Sometimes the important thing is that you are moving though, whether physically or mentally, the idea being that momentum can act as a catalyst for change. Some people can misinterpret this need to move as a symptom of being unhappy, being uncomfortable, or running from one problem or another. I prefer to see "forward" as a mental state of searching for meaning. In ourselves, the world around us, our culture, our work. By thinking in a momentum-driven fashion we tend to think more sustainably, more responsibly and more ethically as we start to sort out the ramifications of our actions when looking ahead instead of watching the wake of our reality behind us.
We embarked on this trip 2 weeks ago today. My wife Liz, her cousin Andrew (driving our Subaru) and I (driving our 1982 Volkswagen Westfalia). It was our Pilgrimage. A chance to see the west in it's entirety. We planned on a lot of old Route 66 (not recommended as it's damn near impossible to follow and can be a depressing reminder of a time long-passed). Our plan was simple though, get to Oregon by early December. The path was the destination. The destination was a direction. So far the journey has been more than we could have imagined.
We woke up to snow the second morning in Southern Indiana and promptly got on the road and blasted down to Nashville. Luckily having friends spread throughout the country can be a huge plus when traveling. We had the opportunity to stay with a good friend Justin DeWaard who I had worked with previously in Grand Rapids and was kind enough to entertain us for the night. Between visiting "Nash-Vegas", grilling on the porch, drinking whiskey, laughing our heads off and smoking pipes like old men, we had the opportunity to get a little deeper. Delving into the motivations for our trip and for our lives as a whole. What was the meaning we were searching for in our actions or decisions to live and work in the places we do? I find that most peoples motivations are driven by a need (whether real or culturally indoctrinated) for some amount of comfort and that the more of this "comfort" you can amass the better off you are. It is truly inspiring to interact people chasing passion and deeper understanding above comfort. Surrounding yourself with those people can be a good insulator to the overwhelming cultural pressure to chase the dream of the "Nuclear Family" of the '50s. That ship has sailed. The world is a different place now and because of that we must become different people.
A word of warning: Moving forward with reckless abandon can come at a price sometimes. As we learned in the middle of Nowhere, Arkansas on a Saturday morning. Driving a car that is 6 years an elder of yourself can remind you that correct pacing is an integral part of moving forward. We had a wheel bearing go out (which is not the end of the world), but the issue was that in Nowhere, Arkansas no one works on Saturday or Sunday. So out of the 27 garages that were in town, exactly 0 of them were open until Monday. Spending a few hours on the phone in a gas station, trying everything I could to coax someone into helping me we found Brian. He was kind enough to come in and open up his shop and help us get back on the road and not get stranded in Arkansas, because in his words "Ain't nothin to do here except drink and gamble, and I don't drink so I go across the border to Oklahoma to gamble most everyday. Made and lost over a million bucks over there." I can't verify the validity of this statement but I can attest to the fact that there was, in fact, nothing to do in Arkansas.
As I sit here and reflect on the first leg of our trip, I'm overwhelmed with the feeling that making the move the start moving was absolutely the right move. Forcing ourselves to get out of our comfort zone and to allow ourselves a bit more freedom to experience the life going on around us. Forward is the right direction, no matter what the compass says.
TO BE CONTINUED....