“Writing is easy. Just put a sheet of paper in the typewriter and start bleeding.”
– Thomas Wolfe
This quote has come up a few times, one a variation credited to Hemingway, others to authors I’ve not known before. But the quote has been rolling around in my head for days.
I read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and I felt a very intimate sense of who she was, how she suffered, and what the journey meant. She bled, literally on the trail, and figuratively on the page. She exposed who she was.
It’s my intention to do the same, but in the writing, I always feel a bit of a filter in place. Not so much a mask of how I want people to see me, but more a guardedness about letting anyone become too intimately aware of my existence. Some sort of desire to remain among the transient awareness of reality.
It’s partially to blame for the vagabonding spirit I suppose. Anywhere I go, I can just as suddenly depart. While I’ve made many friends along the way, and good ones, any of them will say that I’m a shit-communicator when it comes to keeping in touch. Family likewise feels I stay distant, and I do.
I’m hopeful my summer will reveal more about me than I understand at this point. Cautiously optimistic, as anywhere you go, there you. But among the work requirements and the exploration, I’ll be sitting down at the computer and trying my best to bleed.
Here’s to whatever may come.
“On a basic level, there are three general methods to simplifying your life: stopping expansion, reining in your routine, and reducing clutter.”
– Rolf Potts, Vagabonding
Long before I discovered minimalism or the Kondo-method, there was a book I had read discussing the hows and whys of long-term travel. And I wasn’t ready for it when I first read it, back in 2003. The world was where I’d wanted to be, but I had a lot holding me back. It wasn’t until 2016 that I took significant steps toward making the dream of long-term world travel a reality.
Still, I combat the clutter and spending in my life. Having finished Strayed’s Wild, a portion of me wants to rid myself of nearly all my things, the bulk of which are already in a storage unit. She burned books after she read them, nightly, lightening the load of her pack to make walking just a tad easier.
We’ve all moved, and know that each time we lift that heavy piece of furniture we think that next time it’s not coming with us. But what about the smaller pieces, the things that don’t add value to our life anymore – things we just carry out of familiarity? Wouldn’t moving on be easier without them?
Maybe they’re not all material. Maybe some things we carry our internal – things that don’t serve us. Maybe those are the most important things to let go of…
I feel I’ve written on this book once or twice before. It’s one that’s been with me for a while. In fact, my bedroom’s bookshelf has only the books I really want to read or ones that I want close to me. Rolf Potts’s Vagabonding is one of three books that I’ve had since the early 2000s. The other two are Lao-Tau’s Tao Teh Ching (Shambhala Publications’ John C.H. Wu translation) and Acupuncture: A Comprehensive Text (Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine; translated and edited by John O’Connor and Dan Bensky).
The text on Acupuncture was a loan from a former teacher of mine – my earliest mentor, you might say. One day I will track him down again and return the book, with a comprehensive apology for having it as long as I’ve had.
So saying that Vagabonding is near and dear to me falls somewhat short of the mark.
I’ve done two extended trips in Europe, one in ’16 and one in ’17. Last year it was a short trip to Costa Rica, and then this year, of course, was Alaska. But I think I’ve accepted that long term travel is more appealing to me than a regular vacation. It’s significantly more immersive, and, in my opinion, more fulfilling.
And recently I realized that it’s once again time to revisiting Mr. Potts. So I pulled a heavily-used, loved paperback off the shelf and opened again to the first pages.
Vagabonding – n. (1) The act of leaving behind the orderly world to travel independently for an extended period of time. (2) A privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasizes creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, self-reliance, and the growth of the spirit. (3) A deliberate way of living that makes freedom to travel possible.