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Uh oh. Phil is writing again.

For the past two hours, instead of cleaning or doing anything I had planned on doing, I have been reading the blog of Tara, the Hobo Stripper. Because of her blog, I learned more about sex work and the independent spirit than I ever thought possible. I sincerely feel schooled.

And because of her, I have done more self-inspection than I have in a long long time.

What Tara writes, her experience of freedom, of following the soul... it speaks to me so loudly. The concept of ditching the 40-hour work week and living in the universe, truly free. It is an intoxicating thought.

I suppose in some ways, my psyche has revered this concept. Many laugh about my love for the eponymous trucker movie, Convoy, but there is a tie. I loved truckers as a kid because I saw in them rebellion. Today I realize they are the modern cowboy. They were to me a symbol of freedom in the United States. Living on the road, unshackled by the offices and cubicles that imprison so many of us. Of course, this is a romanticized image - the truth is never as glorious as the dream.

Or is it?

I remember a long time ago, I spoke of moving to Seattle. Of picking up and just living elsewhere for a change. I've lived in NYC for my entire life. I've only known city living - buildings, traffic, people, the hustle-bustle of daily metropolitan life. When driving through the country, or the occasional visit to friends in remote places, I've enjoyed the slow pace and peacefulness while always feeling a sense that something was missing. I talk about how I was bred a city-boy, and only the city life can truly nurture my soul.

Living in an apartment in Manhattan was the goal. I have that now.

But what I learned tonight... what I admitted to myself tonight... is that I do sometimes long to be that wandering spirit. The motorcyclist riding the highways on a personal journey. The spontaneous drive cross-country just because. The modern Pied Piper, traveling the world, stopping in a place just earn his keep for a bit, then moving on again.

Sometimes, I do want that. But I can't. Because I'm too fucking scared.

I'm scared of the uncertainty. I'm scared that I might not be able to pull it off. I'm scared of the lack of my own abilities for survival. I'm scared of not having the routine, something to expect.

Burning Man scares me. Moving scares me. Change... change terrifies me.

It is times like these that I feel weak. That somehow I am destined to just be a cog in the universe... and then I become terrified over the fact that I will lose out on so much LIFE. Experience. Living.

My bravery took another route. My family needed me so I walked up to the plate - I shouldered them. I discovered kink at 13, I grew depressed and self-hating because of it, got sick, and then shook off my shame and blazed my trail into the SM universe.

I'm materialistic. Very much so. The possessions I have surrounded myself with were bought because they were my symbols of success and independence. I look at my book collection, at my furniture, at my stuff, and I feel like I have succeeded. They bring me happiness. And then I read about Tara, and how her life is entirely contained in her van, and I look around my apartment, and I compare and contrast... and I feel something akin to panic.

I suppose I have traveled freely in my own little way. But then I read about Tara, and I suddenly feel so small again.

Is it folly to compare myself to her? Am I simply just a being who operates under a different checklist of life parameters? Is the grass on the other side playing me with its illusions? Is my longing to taste freedom real?

I wonder if I could do it. Just for a while. I think I want to. I want to press pause on my life, walk out of my apartment with car keys, and not come back for a year. But I also want my security blanket - I want everything I put down to still be waiting for me to pick back up.

I haven't yet because I am scared. I wonder if I can find the ability to be brave.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 17th, 2008 04:41 am (UTC)
I hoope you don't mind me saying that I think you are looking at your life tonight through the lens of your younger self, one that related steady work and material things as belonging to "cogs in the wheel". I think that is what we all thought when we were 20, when "compromise" was a dirty word.

I would guess there are good reasons other than fear that have led you to choosing your current life. If you took the "open road" what else other than security would you have to give up? Would you be able to attend events like Leather Restreat? Would you be able to fly across country to see your family when they needed you? And just imagine all the toy purchases you would have to pass up, lol. Poverty is romantic when you are 20, not so much when you are older.

Do you really think your life is without adventure - that you are not living? You seem to me to have a pretty incredible life.
Jan. 17th, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
Just so. The secure life and work that chafes you at this moment also provides with a freedom that cannot be enjoyed by a bohemian wanderer.
Jan. 17th, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC)
I do have a good, exciting life. This is true.
Jan. 17th, 2008 05:27 am (UTC)
I completely understand the desire, and it's definitely not easy to do. I had great plans to spend 6 months hiking and the trip kept getting pushed back, mostly for financial reasons, and now I think it's going to be cut down to a month or maybe two if I'm lucky.
Are there ways you can satisfy the urge to wander without taking a whole year? Would a month of aimless roadtripping satisfy some of the wanderlust? 3 weeks? (How much vacation do you get?)
Or, keep your ears open for opportunities... hint and put your interests out there. I've gotten to do a lot of travel by jumping when an opportunity dangled itself in front of me, or fishing around for options. (Like just now, I found myself a possible sublet in Berkeley by asking thinly veiled questions about a friend's housing situation).
Speaking of which, here's one for you... I've always thought it would be interesting to live in NY for a year (or a month or whatever...), but had written off the idea as impractical and way too expensive. So maybe I could house-sit for you while you go wandering, so that part of your life would be ready and waiting when you returned. =)
Jan. 17th, 2008 05:36 am (UTC)
Sometimes I think that the brave thing is staying where I am and not leaving. (I think that it would be easier to leave sometimes...)

It might be folly to assume her standards for yourself, but it is not folly to take inspiration from her adventures and let that spark your life as well.

(Thank you for sharing your thoughts- they have sparked further introspection on my part.)
Jan. 17th, 2008 05:53 am (UTC)
Dude, I can totally relate. But honestly, wanderlust comes and goes.

Is it folly to compare myself to her? Am I simply just a being who operates under a different checklist of life parameters? Is the grass on the other side playing me with its illusions? Is my longing to taste freedom real?

The answers to all of these questions are 'yes,' but with regards to the last question, what you're longing to taste isn't a greater freedom than what you already have.

That said, I know you can handle Burning Man. And you should.
Jan. 19th, 2008 10:00 am (UTC)
So many things to say...
So little brain to do so.

I know you but little. I may never know you any better than now.
However, I met a strong man with conviction as to his choices when I met you.

That is a powerful and special thing.
Jan. 17th, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
The possessions I have surrounded myself with were bought because they were my symbols of success and independence. I look at my book collection, at my furniture, at my stuff, and I feel like I have succeeded.

Aren't they? I mean, realistically, aren't they what seperate you from the unsuccessful and the dependant? And, isn't that feeling what ultimately counts? That you feel like you've succeeded? Don't get me wrong, in everything there is good and bad. They say everything has 3 sides, you're side, their side, and the truth. I'm sure she probably misses some of the things you have now.

And then I read about Tara, and how her life is entirely contained in her van, and I look around my apartment, and I compare and contrast... and I feel something akin to panic.

Why? What's to panic about? You have a home. Not an apartment, a home. One of your own. You have a routine. The routine is comforting. I haven't read her blog but I doubt she has a routine. She lacks that comfort in life that you have around you just as you lack the unknown in her life. Again, there's another side. I have a routine, a home, stuff and it's comforting. There are days I'd like to get rid of all of it, hop on the bike, and ride off into the sunset, too. I don't feel small because of my choices. I'm proud I've had the stones to make them. I am surpised you feel this way. Then again, I don't know you that well. :)
Jan. 17th, 2008 07:34 am (UTC)
Urban living does seem to become a gilded cage - once you have yourself set up, it is a major life decision, commitment, hardship to cash that in for the uncertainty of the road or planting yourself in unfamiliar territory and finding out if it is a fertile enough environment to thrive in.

There was an old saying that I heard after college that if you don't leave New Orleans before you are 30, you never will. That seems to hold true of the east coast cities too, as friends from Boston and DC have moved out west to try out the lifestyle there or be closer to the Burning Man culture out there after growing to adult hood in the more urban and conservative environs of the northeast.

You've accomplished alot in your life in making the decisions that have put you where you are today, though sometimes it is a little more difficult to have perspective on that.
Jan. 17th, 2008 08:00 am (UTC)
I get this, more than I can tell you.

My entire life, I've had this deep gypsy craving that won't be silenced, that is continually at war with an equally strong (and more socially acceptable) need for security and stability. My escape fantasies, when I had them, were always about selling everything, dyeing my hair blue, and driving to New Orleans to read tarot on street corners until something else sounded like more fun. I had a friend who crashed with us in NY now and then who was like my alter ego-- I had the stability she lacked, she had the freedom I lacked. She would just up and go teach English in Japan, study business in Edinburgh, tour Europe for weeks with a buddy. She was not afraid to live out of a backpack and sleep on couches. I always envied her the trust she had, that no matter where she went she'd figure something out and the universe would fill in the rest.

I've wrestled with that duality in myself for years. (And incidentally, funny thing-- I always kind of thought being a trucker would be cool!) I've had the tiniest glimmers of the reality of the wanderlust life-- a day here or there where I just jumped without checking for a safety net. And it was definitely a heady, wild feeling, but also a stressful one. It was hard to let go of that control over circumstances, hard to release the anxiety about what I'd do if I couldn't find a place to stay, or whatever. I know someone now who lived that nomadic existence, and loved it, but also ended up in a frightening and desperate situation made all the moreso by not having the safe haven that you and I do. It turned out ok, but would I seriously want to be in that position? I don't know. Maybe not.

I think ultimately I feel like I can strike a balance. I've become OK with being the hosteller, the homebody, the person who has the warm welcoming home in the center of a stable community, the person that the genuinely nomadic can look up when they need hospitality. But I also need to feed my own gypsy-- to make time to wander, to go places without always having a plan, to do work that allows me to travel all over the world. That part, I'm still working on.

Maybe what you need is not to give up your stability altogether, but to give yourself more freedom. Maybe you need a job that offers travel. Maybe you'd be happier working freelance. Maybe you need to try taking a long vacation and going to South America and backpacking for a few weeks to see how you like it. Maybe on a Friday you should look for a discount airfare and go where it takes you till Sunday night.

Maybe there's a world of possibility between living out of a van and being a cog in the wheel. Personally, I really hope there is.
Jan. 17th, 2008 08:02 am (UTC)
PS-- if you do Burning Man sometime, I might be tempted to come with you. ;-) I've always been simultaneously fascinated, and certain that I'd never survive the conditions.
Jan. 17th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
Is that what it will take to see you again? ;-)
Jan. 19th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
hehe-- I hope not!! Trips to NYC are on my travel list for the year...you have no idea how bad I miss it there. Sometimes I think I put off visiting because I won't want to leave again. Or because it might not be the place I remember. Not really sure, not gonna angst about it, just gonna get up there soon. =)
(no subject) - fenowyn - Jan. 17th, 2008 08:36 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 17th, 2008 11:51 am (UTC)
I've done both things. Lived comfortably and just *gone*. I think there is a place for both in everyone's life. I don't think it's productive to compare yourself to a random person, but it's good to be inspired. I've lived in a van before, I've lived in a squat, I've been on the road with a rock band, etc. It's rewarding and it's incredibly HARD. It's incredibly hard physically. It can be difficult mentally depending on your personality. You're very socially enmeshed. You are always seeing friends, seeing family, and rarely spend time alone. There's a difference from feeling lonely and feeling happily alone. If you lived in a van travelling, you'd be alone most of the time. That, I think, might be incredibly difficult for your psyche. We are not all created alike.

I think you should look into changing your work options. Your day job and your "bliss" are really far apart from one another. I think if you were traveling more things might open up for you.

The suggestions divinia (is that zir name?) had about how to bring some spontenaity and adventure into your life were good ones.

Maybe think about taking a sabattical from work. How long have you been there? Do you have savings? Can you take a month to go do something adventurous? What about apartment swapping? You can swap your apartment for one in Europe. Live in Paris for a week! Or Italy! It's incredibly terrifying and (later) liberating to go where no one knows you.

My very quiet and shy stepfather used to go to the airport on the occasional weekend with an overnight bag, and would ask at the airport what flights were open and would get a swing seat for like $50 or $100. And he'd end up someplace he'd never been: the southwest, San Fran, St.Louis, all kinds of places. He loved it. And if he didn't? Well, he'd be home Sunday, no biggie.

Jan. 17th, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC)
divalion is who I meant by "divinia".

Jan. 17th, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC)
I think European travel would definitely cure my wanderlust. Or, a drive from start to end on Route 66.
Jan. 17th, 2008 12:09 pm (UTC)
I suspect that now that you have reiterated that desire for non-structured freedom in your life, you will be presented with an opportunity to realize it. Thats the way the world works. Ask yourself if its the right time to do it. If your inner voice gives you the quiet, immediate answer of "yes"? Do not question it: Do it. It will work out and you will learn what you need to know.
Jan. 17th, 2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
My short response: No, you aren't wrong to compare yourself to her, but it is important to realize how you are different. We all have those people in our lives who make their way in a way totally different and alien to our own. It's nice to imagine what it would be like to live like them, but in the end we are not them, we are ourselves, and just like water we will always find our own level.

It sounds to me like you have found your own natural level. It sounds like you have the things you need there to make you happy.

Set this date and wait 30 days. If in 30 days these feelings are still haunting you, then start planning for a long vacation, at least 2 weeks. Set some point far out in America you want to see, rent an RV or a Motorcycle or whatever you want to journey on (also consider the weather) and go out there. Spend some time. Come back. By the time you do it, you'll know what you need to know, and it will cost you nothing. At the end, either you will stay at your comfortable level, secure in the knowledge that this is where you belong, or at some point in that journey you will find something that calls you to a different type of life, and you can start deciding whether you want to make that transition. Its a little bit like a walkabout.

Anyway - we don't know each other, but I'm also scared of Burning Man. If you ever feel brave enough to go, let me know and I'll go with you. It scares the bejesus out of me.
Jan. 17th, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
Should your wanderlust overcome you, there is always a warm dry bed and a pot of soup at my house. You are welcome anytime.
Jan. 17th, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
You could spend two hours reading my blog and find the same thing...instead you just think I'm crazy.
Jan. 18th, 2008 03:53 am (UTC)
Sometimes, when I'm standing on the platform in Island Park to head into My commute to the city everyday, there is this little hair salon and I see them coming to work with coffee in their hand and I'm jealous.

I thought, "I have a good job, I enjoy it" but I realized it was their freedom I envied. I HAVE to be at My desk. They dont HAVE to be at the salon.

We are planning a trip to DRIVE to Brazil. We are doing a two year planning trip and it's gonna take 15 days. Gonna buy a big four wheel drive and sell it in Brazil to pay for air fare home. WAnna come?

Jan. 19th, 2008 07:41 am (UTC)
Has nothing to do with bravery.

~ pug
Jan. 19th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
I completely relate. I'm about to graduate from college, and I feel like I'm about to choose which path my life is going to take... change terrifies me, risk terrifies me, but the thought of spending at least a few years on the road is very attractive to me. However, that means leaving behind things that I've spent a great deal of time acquiring - not just possessions, but friends, lovers, my cat, my hobbies (leather working does not travel well)...

Tough decisions. Either way, there will be regrets.

This is my first time reading this blog - we've met, I saw one of your caning demos, but I doubt you'll remember me. Just wanted to say hi, and that this entry really spoke to me.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )