That Was Roadtrip
Well, there you have it. That was Roadtrip.
“That was Roadtrip?” grandMother asks, her lips struggling to keep up with the rest of her mouth.
“That was Roadtrip,” I say victoriously.
“So what’s this next shit you’re going to read to me, then?” she asks.
Thank you for reading! Since getting home I’ve done a bit of thinking as the experience has soaked in, and I feel ready to reflect on the trip.
Now that I’ve done a little bit of it on my own, I’m starting to see the importance of traveling, of leaving the place where you spend the majority of your time to spend some of that time somewhere else on this vast, magnificent planet. There’s only so much one can learn by standing still and keeping in line with the status quo of the land one calls home. Expanding one’s horizons isn’t essential, necessarily, but it can do a lot to heighten one’s perspective, to raise one’s level of consciousness, so to speak, and as far as I see it, the higher you can get, the better!!
I have an uncle, or rather a granduncle named Stephen, who can accurately be described as a very worldly gentleman. An antiquey kind of guy, he’s spent most of his life buying, refinishing/repairing, and reselling antique furniture; at one point in his life, he even had the opportunity to work on a desk that was owned by Theodore Roosevelt. The man is very big on traveling and especially on taking road trips; he can, and has many times before, hop in a car and drive for more than twelve hours in a single day without breaking a sweat, and it shows when you talk to him. No matter what the context or the situation, he’ll have a story for you so chock-full of humor and insight, so bubbling with his own individual wisdom that you’ll feel like you’ve been traveling with him for years, while at the same time he remains as down to Earth as the dirt of the Habitat for Humanity construction sites where he works in his spare time. It’s exactly that kind of fullness of being and human genuinity that traveling nourishes. Before I took this road trip, I never really considered traveling, but now I’m counting down the days until I can hit the road again.
Metaphorically speaking, that is. I can’t see myself driving for more than two hours in one sitting for quite some time after all this hullabaloo.
Another theme I found myself contemplating over the course of this trip was friendship. What exactly makes somebody a friend? Is it time spent together, experiences had, a history made and shared between two beings? Or is it merely compatibility, a function of chance that two beings of a similar shade happen to meet up and enjoy one another’s company? Is it the sharing of a passion, a collaboration between two for the mutual enjoyment of one of life’s many niches? Maybe; all three of those things may certainly play a role, but as far as I understand it, friendship is much, much simpler.
Recently whilst trespassing on Fakebook, I read a quote about love that said something along the lines of, “Love is not a feeling, it is a commitment.” That really resonated with me; compatibility aside, history aside, everything that one normally attributes to love aside, what remains are two things: that warm, fuzzy feeling you get in the pit of your chest when you’re around your significant other, and the commitment, the mutual promise you’ve made to each other to always be there. The feelings are as powerful as they are fleeting and are more the result of love than the cause itself; the commitment, on the other hand, is the dry cedar log that provides fuel to the fire that is the feeling of love. I see friendship in a very similar light, the only difference being the intensity of the glow. To be a friend, all one must do is be there for somebody when they need it. The opposite, in turn, must also be true; if somebody is your friend, they will be there for you when you need them. Take Mike and the Fishers, for example; neither parties were given more than two days’ notice that I would be coming and staying with them. In hindsight, I realize this was probably pretty fucking intrusive and inconveniencing on my part, but what can I say? I don’t take vacations much. Plan in advance, lesson learned.
Anyway, the Fishers and I had talked about a potential road trip a couple times in months prior, but the actual plans for this trip were made literally two or three days before I left. And Mike, he didn’t find out that I was coming until I was practically on my way to his apartment. These are not stagnant beings either – Mike and his girlfriend are both in the US Navy, they leave for work before 0600 hours every day; Ronnie Fisher is a teacher at his local high school and Margaret Fisher works at a hospital as the head of the ICU. Yet, with hardly any notice at all, they all made time in their busy lives to accommodate me without the slightest bit of fuss.
A sad fact of today’s world is that many humans are more than willing to pretend to be your friend if they think they can get something out of you. Whether that something be money, work, food, whatever, humans are just plain willing to use other humans as if they were an object, a soulless automaton incapable of feeling. It’s often difficult to tell who your real friends are, but when you know, you know. Real friends are treasures meant to be cherished; that’s why I’ve dedicated this book to them.
Lastly, I want to muse about life. In Running I asked the question, “What is life?” and the only answer I could come up with was, “It’s weird,” and I’m not even the first one to realize that. In this book, the one you just read, I made a few jokes about simulation theory, which is basically the belief that what we call reality is not real at all, but an extremely advanced simulation of reality (likely a computer simulation) that is controlled by some advanced civilization in real reality. Even if that is true, does that make our reality any less real?
When you go for a hike, doesn’t the wind hit your face? Don’t you feel that slight chill run up your back as you’re engulfed by a gust of air, just for it to be melted away when the sun graces you with a beam of its light? Don’t you see the vast landscape before you as you taste that crisp hunk of apple flesh you just bit into your mouth? Aren’t you experiencing everything around you, don’t you perceive it all? Even if it isn’t real to some theoretical being who may or may not be out there, isn’t it real to you?
I say all that to say this: life is for the living. Alan Watts once said, “Reality is but a Rorschach inkblot.” What this means, as far as I understand, is that reality is up for interpretation, with each perspective that looks at it having a slightly unique view of things. By extension, this also means that reality can be whatever one wants it to be, so long as one tries hard enough. It may take effort, but whatever one wants to achieve can be achieved within one’s lifetime. For those of us that are willing to put in the work and exert ourselves for what we want, the endgame awaits. For those of us who don’t, those of us who no longer dream and want nothing more for their life than to turn food into waste, well, you’re probably long dead on the inside already. Just wait around, time will take care of the rest.
Thank you once again for reading this book. If you’re thinking about going traveling, do it. If you’re thinking about taking a risk that could benefit your life in untold capacities, do it. If you’re thinking about living this life instead of just existing here, please, for the love of life, do it. And above all else, be well~