You guys know I'm a total book nerd, right? I am proud to say I am currently the Mayor of my local library on Foursquare. Because I'm there once a week....sometimes more. Sometimes I even go to several branches of the Sacramento Library, but then I get all kinds of confused when I start getting library notices. Where did I check this one out? Which branch does this one belong to? And I am always checking out 5 books at a time, but they only give you 3 weeks and there's no way anybody could read 5 books in 3 weeks, not even somebody whose brain processes books faster than a Pentium processes data.
So, anyway, I picked up "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac 2 weeks ago. I feel a little bit embarrassed admitting that I'd gone 31 years without having read it. Actually, once I started reading it, I was kind of annoyed that nobody had ever even recommended it to me. It's amazing. Beyond amazing, even.
I normally tear through books like a mad-woman, but not with this one. I am savoring this one, which is ironic because the book itself is written with such voraciousness, I feel a bit fevered when reading it.
"On the Road" is about finding or making adventure wherever you can, because life can be unbearably sad sometimes. And this theme fits in pretty well with the way I've been trying to live my life this last year. Does it seem like I am harping on this all the time? That's probably because I am.
I am so sick of the "Fun Police". I actually used to be one of them for awhile. Too embarrassed to sing in my car. Too afraid to travel anywhere without someone to guide me. Not letting my kids eat anything that didn't grow in the ground. Never trying anything new. Scared someone might think I'm making a fool of myself.
I'm sad that our culture doesn't embrace adventure. We want our kids to go to school, grow up and get a job, get married & buy a house. If somebody were to take a year and just go "find" themselves these days, they'd be called a loser with no goals, or an embarrassment.
How are we supposed to discover where we belong and who we want to be if we never leave our tiny hometowns in suburbia? If all we do is fall in line and do the things we are told to do, the things that people expect of us? Maybe I sound like a complete hippy nut-job, but here's why:
I had a baby when I was 17. Then I proceeded to move 900 miles away from everyone and everything I'd ever known, because I was in love and it sounded so exciting. And it WAS exciting. We had to learn to fend for ourselves with no safety net. I wasn't even a legal adult yet! When we moved, I hadn't been further than 90minutes from the farm town I grew up in.
We drove up the Pacific Coast through California, Oregon, and along the vast Columbia River which seemed to me about as wide as the ocean. We went up into Washington and stopped 2 1/2 hours from the Canadian Border. We were home. He had a job waiting for him, but we had no money, no place to live, and we stayed in a motel for a few weeks until we found a place of our own.
There were no Google maps to guide us around our new city.
Everything we learned was because we went out into the world and discovered it.
I spent 2 years living an adventure before returning to my sleepy Northern California home.
All of the people who said it wouldn't last ended up being right, but it didn't matter in the end.
What mattered was that I tried, and I really lived for those 2 years.
But after coming back here, to the reality of being a single mom, to working 50+ hrs a week and struggling to get by, I lost my sense of adventure.
Then I got caught up in the dramatics of maneuvering my way through a new, blended family.
For a good 6 years, there was no time for discovery.
But now, I am settled at last. And with that feeling comes the funniest twist of irony, because I finally feel secure enough to set about on some little adventures again. These days, my escapades come in the form of singing out loud to the radio in the grocery store and not caring who hears, taking random classes that have nothing to do with my Major just because I can, trying weird foods I used to turn my nose at, or waking up on a Sunday with no plans and ending up playing in the sand on a beach somewhere along the California Coast.
In 2012, my husband & I will celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary and I would love to rent an RV, pack our kids inside and take off across the Country. It might be awful. It has the potential to be the worst idea I've ever had, but that won't stop me from going. Because it could be wonderful, and I want my children to know that life is full of possibilities, and opportunities and things that cannot be taught inside a classroom.
If you see a chance- take it. You might fail, but the risk is half the adventure.