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Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
This is the first entry I've posted in quite some time and, to me, it seems fitting to touch on a subject that so many people have been asking me about. Something so many friends, relatives, acquaintances have commented on lately.
"Where is he sleeping?" they ask me.
"How is he getting around? Is he hitchhiking? Is he walking?"
"What if he gets mugged?"
"He's crazy. Why would anyone want to do that?"
"Who knows, maybe other people will start doing this."
For those of you who don't know, my brother, Jason, has left his job, his home and his girlfriend. On September 15 he shouldered a backpack and took the first steps of a personal journey, what he calls his "walkabout." A combination of hiking and hitchhiking, couch surfing and camping, sleeping under bridges. It's a journey of blisters and bliss. In the three weeks since he left he's been robbed, harassed by cops, threatened by junkies, verbally abused by college kids, had trash thrown at him. He's also seen things that most of us will never see. The secret lives of towns behind tourism's shiny facade. Jason has travelled more miles and met more interesting people than you or I will on years of vacations. It's been three weeks and he's already in Boston.
People ask me, "What's he going to do about..."
People ask me, "What if something happens to him?"
People ask me, "Why?"
I'm pretty sure that most of the people asking me these questions think that no one has ever left home and comfort and family and typical life to find something else on the Road. To them, there was never a Jack Kerouac, WIlliam Least-Heat Moon, Christopher Columbus, Magellan. There were never hunters and gatherers and gold miners and hippies. No Sir Edmund Hillary. No Cain. No Everett Ruess. No Chris McCandless. If you know those last two names, you're probably really worried.
Sometimes a human will feel a pull toward something. Or a sucking hole inside of himself. When you feel that pull, that empty spot in your viscera, the nine to five, white picket fence, mortgage, car in the garage, 401k, HMO version of life won't fill it. Most people live that way. Most people die that way. They ask questions like "Why would he want to do that?"
A very few people have gone looking. Jason is one of them. That isn't something new. And leaving everything behind, permanently or temporarily, is also not new. You would be surprised how many twenty-somethings there are on the Road doing the same thing. Let the boy be. Let him look. He knows how. Let him find It.
People ask me, "Are you jealous?"
People ask me, "Do you wish you were going with him?"
I tell them no. And for the most part, I mean it. Sure, I'd like to experience some of the same things. Tales of beautiful places, secret places, fascinating things; they always make me a little jealous. Jason's journey is right for him, and right now is his time. I understand the why. I understand where he's going in his heart. There was a time when I might have done what Jason is doing now. But I didn't. I didn't go walkabout. I didn't move to Portland to live in a travel trailer and I never did become a truck driver. Maybe I should have. Or maybe not.
The Road has always called to me and it always will. But I'm in a different place in my life now. Consequently, my adventures are, and will forever be, of a different sort. My path was my own, but I can promise you I walked every step of it alone to wind up here. Somewhere along the way, I found what I was looking for. I also found out something else, something I think Jason will learn, too: whatever it is, when you find it, you'll spend the rest of your life consumed. Forever restless.
If you haven't been following Jason's blog, check it out here. He's having wonderful adventures. Read. Enjoy. Be inspired. Cheer him on.