I’ve got lust, the wandering kind. This crazy year of family tragedy and loss, while the planet yells MAYDAY, MAYDAY with every element at its disposal, has made me pause. Fire, wind, flood, earth. I’ve been sitting in a safe harbour, a friends float house on the coast of BC almost right on top of the US border, gathering Qi; pronounced chee; the life force; breath. I can’t ignore the dour chaos of the year both personal and environmental, but the impulse to go still stirs and rumbles.
At 58, John Steinback took his truck with a camper he named Rocinantes, (after Don Quixote’s horse), his French poodle Charley, and crossed America. The American writer writing about America had been drawing from, “a faulty warpy reservoir” that was growing dependent on what he read in the newspaper and books. The result of his desire to get closer to his subject, “Travels With Charley” was published in 1962. His observations are still strikingly relevant and the quest to “go” still burns.
“When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, [or woman], and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This, to the practical bum is not difficult. He has a built-in garden of reasons to chose from.”
There is a culture of average people who like to keep moving, not staying in any one place too long lest some root grab them by the ankles and so weighted down by stuff they can’t take off no matter how hard they flap their wings. They trade off stuff for a nomad’s existence and try to find a way to sustain the lifestyle. It’s not for everyone. Little by little the amount of boxes they have in storage shrinks as the attachment to old things and memorabilia diminishes. And if they buy less stuff and give up the mortgage they can work less and go have a look around. Simple curiosity and a desire for simplicity.
Home is good, but I want to know what is around the corner. I miss places I’ve never been and friends I have yet to meet.
“You going in that?”
And then I saw what I was to see so many times on
the journey—a look of longing.
“Lord! I wish I could go.”
“Don’t you like it here?”
“Sure. It’s all right, but I wish I could go.”
“You don’t even know where I’m going.”
“I don’t care. I’d like to go anywhere.”
Tens of thousands of snow geese travel the sky above where I am staying. I hear the collective noise all night and day. They arrive from places as far north as you can get in North America, (even Siberia) swarming the acres of grassy fields in a magnificent flapping, honking, ruckus. It is way up the list of things that leave me properly gobsmacked. I like to think of when they get the initial urge. What scent, or change of the wind ruffles feathers, instigating the restlessness that makes them pick up and go, making long arrows in the sky, riding on each others backdraft, switching places and moving as far as 5000 miles south?
Goin’ South, for a Canadian is the promise of warm nights outdoors in a t-shirt and the sun unhindered by cloud cover; no icy slap of wind to hunch your shoulders and scrunch your face at. Its an almost mystical journey of possibilities without pillow thick jackets, toques or fur-lined anything.
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
Goin’ South is a sweet thing. Tonight the floathouse creaks and rocks enough for the doors to swing open and the pictures hang slightly askew. The wind gusts belt things around and tethered boats bump into the dock gently. My feathers ruffle instinctively. Time to fly.