Saturday, June 07, 2008

Always a spectator...

...but at least in this instance the twinges of envy are mild. Feelings of admiration are strong, though.

I've been following the journey of my friend "Juan", who has cleverly taken the money most of us would spend on so-called professional help and faddish drugs to set off into the hinterlands in search of both adventure and a place to call -- more or less -- "home."

If you haven't been reading his story and watching his videos, you should start. Immediately.

Don't read the rest of this. Click on his link above. Now.

I wouldn't presume to get into any deep analysis of what he's doing. Heaven knows, in my current mental state, I'd b*gg*r up the truth anyway. Fuzzy thinking, you know.

Being of an age to vividly remember the fuss made about the books of Jack Kerouac -- and, in fact, of an age to have had fantasies of getting a van or small school bus and setting out on my own -- the pull of "the Road" remains embedded in my mind. So do a host of youthful memories of places "Juan" has visited and will be visiting. Or, in a few instances, will be unable to visit, as they been changed beyond all recognition or have vanished into the dust of Progress.

In one sense modern times have made his trek easier. Instead of film cameras (still and movie) and cassette tape recorders, he has packed digital equipment into his smaller, more reliable and more fuel-efficient transportation unit. Likewise, a computer with mobile internet access beats the hell out of paper, pens, envelopes and postage stamps, all of which were on my fantasy packing lists.

The big difference -- if you ask me, anyway -- is that Kerouac (and I) were devotees of spur-of-the-moment aimless wandering. I detect an eventual destination in "Juan's" travels, and know a lot of planning and forethought went into his mad scheme.

Being much older now, and battered by forces that prevent me from doing likewise, I can only sit back and cheer as "Juan" makes his way across the map. Even if he doesn't know it, he's making this run not just for himself but a horde of would be road-followers who sense that their own ultimate destinations are Somewhere Out There but can't -- or won't -- make the leap of faith it takes to start (and, more important, continue) the search.

As for Kerouac: I read him voraciously in high school; to say I dug his act is an understatement. Returning to his works lo these many years later, I found his writing less than impressive and his personality (at least as revealed in his books) immature and not terribly pleasant. The guy was a nut, and not in a good way.

Imagine a Kerouac with a good heart, good personality and more mental stability than he credits himself with. That's "Juan."

All this is a roundabout way of admitting that, in what I consider a positive way, I'm jealous as hell of what he's doing.

And I'm rooting for him to find "home" at exactly the right moment, Jim.


Anonymous said...

Similar and more recent books included John Steinbeck's "Travels With Charlie" and a book by an indian named William Least Heat Moon called "Blue Line Highways".

MrScribbler said...

Anon -- Never had much desire to hit the road with a dog. My dream was to be out there with some swingin' hippie chick and -- this was in the 60s, mind you -- a stash of interesting, ummmm, substances....

emd said...

Well, these days, the swingin' hippie chick and the um..."substances"...are sounding mighty tempting!

MrScribbler said...

emd -- So does the van (have to have something in which to carry chick and "sub"), though fuel prices would probably strand me somewhere this side of Barstow.

DAL said...

If I could travel on the strength of my half wit and lousy guitar playing, I'd find a Chevette, take out the rear seat and take off.

Anonymous said...

I would so do that.

betty said...

He's a great guy and so interesting to talk to. He and Paul talked nonstop the whole time he was here. Drinking coffee nonstop also, lol. We tried to figure out how we could drop everything and go with him but alas, it was not to be. :)
We're really enjoying his travels and hope he finds what he's looking for. :)

Justfly said...

ummmm...I think it is time for an update =)
Come on now, we like to know how you are doing what you are doing.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes just being here when the garden is in bloom is just a fine, fine place to be.

John0 said...

When I start feeling lost and useless, words of kindness like that do a hell of a lot to bring me back to the half full side of life. Thank you. You are one of the very few people who understands the nature of this thing, and who has been supportive.
One thing I might correct a bit is the planning aspect. Certain necessities were planned but no research whatsoever has been involved in locations and certain aspects of tent life.