|Is it possible?|
Jennifer-who-lives-in-her-car, who just got back from Alaska, wrote something in her blog the other day that has been bonging about in my head. I recommend reading the whole thing: http://www.livinginmycar.com/. But for the purposes of this discussion, here are the relevant statements:
"I’m bored. As I’ve made my way back to the Texas Gulf Coast, I’ve had this nagging feeling of… So now what?" And again: "I like natural settings, but after five months I’m getting bored with sitting in scenic spaces."
The first thing that came to mind was an old song by that great philosopher Peggy Lee: Is That All There Is?
The second thing was to remember I had the same problem, though it took me a little longer. I went to Alaska in 2005 at the end of 3 years of wandering the West. Travel became routine. I got bored with the beauty of it all. Just goes to show that there's nothing so perfect that I can't screw it up.
After 3 years of wandering the lesser 48, all that emptiness up there just filled me up, though it felt a lot like emptying out. The usual bullshit got displaced and rearranged. But I can't really blame Alaska. It was time.
I needed a break. I needed a vacation from all that vacation.
The travel bug - certainly the retirement travel bug - seems to have a natural average lifespan. Judging by a quick tour of the longer travel blogs, the fever seems to abate after 3 or 4 years. They get a job, or fall in love, or out of love, or out of money - or maybe just get tired, or a case of the terminal lonesomes - but at some point the fever breaks, the sense of adventure leaches out of what they are doing, and after a period of touch-and-go recuperation the victim slides gratefully back into what is often called "a normal life".
It isn't always so. There are interesting outliers. Sometimes there is a serial infection. But the unexpected there-and-back-and-done syndrome is actually quite common. And those who are planning a life of "full-timing" in retirement might want to bear that in mind. It's a bit easier to go back over a bridge if you don't actually burn it down behind you.
Everyone has a different reason for travelling. Some people are running away from something. Some think they are running toward something. Some people just like running. Some people run right out of one reason and into another. Inertia plays a role.
Which brings me to why it is hard for me to initially get moving on any journey, including this one. Here's a little dialog to illustrate the problem:
Pangloss: "You have to get into the right frame of mind. It's all about attitude. It's about tuning your mind to appreciate what is going on around you. All travel is really inward. If you simply get on the Interstate and go 70 mph all day, you're not travelling. You're just moving."
Candide: "But, but, but.... how can I appreciate what's around me if it's not around me yet?"
Pangloss: "Sigh. You'll never even get to apprentice philosopher at this rate. Being bored isn't a matter of going too slow. It's a matter of not going slow enough."
Candide: "Professor, this isn't slow. This is stopped."
Pangloss: "Ah, now we're getting somewhere. And while we are stopped, you have to ask yourself: 'Is this all there is?'"
Candide: "Not according to the map. There's a lot more about 400 miles to the northwest..."
Pangloss: "Is that all there is?"
Candide: "Well, there's here, and there's there. And there's a whole lot cooler than here...."
Pangloss: "Sigh. I don't know why I bother."
Candide: "No bother at all, prof. Here, have a beer. Want me to drive?"
Those guys. They do go on. And so do I.