Prepare for Death

Whenever I prepare for a journey I prepare as though for death. Should I never return, all is in order. This is what life has taught me.
~ Katherine Mansfield

Pass by Themselves

People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.
~ Saint Augustine

Escaping Life on Replay

Sayward at Quacks
Sayward at Quacks
Crossing 2,500 miles with a U-Haul (from Daytona Beach, Florida to San Diego, California) is no small undertaking. Doing it in under 60-hours is what you'd call "impressive". Now, add to that a night resting up in Lafayette, Louisiana... 'n then add a nine-hour stopoff in Austin, Texas to hang out. If we're still talking about making the trip in under 60-hours, then that's what you'd call "legendary".

Sayward 'n Mark made the trip look easy.

As I said in my previous post, most of the travelers I know don't even set foot inside the States... so it was awesome when I got an email from a traveling friend called Sayward saying that she was going to be stopping off in Austin. W00t! With such a full day (and all the surrounding thoughts), I'm going to break up this post into three parts: An ATX Gathering, Life on Replay, A Game of Connect-the-Dots. All of them intertwine to tell a story thru time.

An ATX Gathering: Sayward quite literally had the best introduction to Austin that a person could ask for. In fact, sadly, she may be forever biased against it being anything other than "a spectacular city". For the most part, that's not far off. When she told me the neighborhood they were landing in, I had to double-check the map to make sure that wishful thinking wasn't making me guess wrong. It wasn't. If you're going to hit Austin in the summer, the best neighborhood to hit up first is Zilker Park. If you're hitting it in the winter, then the best neighborhood is Hyde Park. Sayward and Mark were landing right in Hyde Park... right on the X that "marks the spot".

She called me once they'd made the border of Austin. Hyde Park is less than a half-hour's walk from where I live, so I grabbed a laptop and set out on foot. I found her at Quacks, the main coffee shop for Hyde Park. She's impossible to miss, as her vibrant smile, shining demeanor and shock of white hair all make for a perfect combination to stand out in a crowd. That's a good thing, as we'd never actually met in person before.

I got to hear all about Christmas... Saint Augustine style. We're talking pirate ships, horses and forts here... and a bottle o' rum. She wrote an entire entry on this. I immediately wrote down Saint Augustine on my places to check out in America. While some peeps make a bucket list, many don't actually go about checking things off of it. Sayward's out living her bucket list at this very moment. I poked her about publishing the list itself (and look forward to reading it).

We abandoned the comfort of Quacks for the insane organic eats just across the street. Mother's Cafe is one of the jewels of the city, let alone Hyde Park. We talked about future plans, for her trip and for my own... at least, once I wrap up the last of my work here in the city. Spending time with another traveler had my wanderlust going crazy. The great meal (thanks Sayward!) helped to calm some of the energy. We walked for a ways after leaving Mother's, then hugged and said goodbye. Sayward 'n Mark were leaving that night, with plans to make the shores of Diego by the next day. It was only a temporary goodbye.

Travelers never stay far apart for long.

Check out her blog, as well as her main site on juice fast retreats:

Before going on to the next section, time to queue the song of the day:
Song of the Day: "Miss Levine" by Beats Antique [Free Download]
"Miss Levine" by Beats Antique
Life on Replay: One of the things we talked about was how much of her trip she still had left to write about. Every day was (and will continue to be) packed. Many travelers talk about having "more time" when they're traveling than when they're not traveling. It's a fact.

It also makes sense.

When you're not traveling, you're usually working a job with a specific group of people. Even the work you do is usually very specific. The people you come home to don't vary that much, nor the people you hang out with. This repetition is life on replay. There are small variances in the film reel of your life, but it's primarily the same movie being played over and over again. It's not that you have "less time", but that more of your time is spent doing many of the same things... again... and again.

"The world isn't getting smaller. There's just less in in."
~Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean

Some people escape life on replay by distraction. Television, partying and the Internet (while all have uses) are all easy ways to "zone out". Other people escape into memories of the past, no matter whether dark or light... or to dreams of the future. But travel is an actual way out.

New people, new horizons, new experiences and new stories... every... single... day. When your mind has adjusted to life on replay, it truly feels like you have more time when you make the gearshift into traveling. This is why many writers throughout the ages have turned to travel for inspiration. There is so much "content" when on the road that you have to make the painful choices of what to cut out... and what to keep.

And there is a danger in this. A person who plans a trip with people they know, and who sets a schedule for when and where to do things, is going to get caught right back up in a life of replay. When in groups, it's best to split up for a time, then meet up later. When on a schedule, at least leave time to take side-roads and explore... or tear the schedule up. Make an effort to meet new people. Take the time to explore places that you've never seen before (and not just with your camera). This is how you escape the "Life on Replay" that is called tourism and join the spontaneous world of travelers.

The choices you make on how to invest your time will define the quality of the time you spend living. It's a rule that applies to all life, no matter whether sitting still or in motion.

A Game of Connect-the-Dots: Travelers have a way of meeting up in the most interesting ways. Sometimes thru other travelers, sometimes hitching the same rides, sometimes just over a drink at a hostel. It's fun to connect the dots. In this case, the entry here is actually missing a piece of the puzzle--joel. It all began when joel commented on my post "With a Hatchet and a Cigarette". I love getting comments from actual humans (and not spam bots). So I checked out his Blogger profile, finding that he and his friend Jude were writing their own travel blog [So Lost at Last]. This is where I first read about Sayward, as she'd given them a ride in Oregon.

But really, how do you turn down two hitchhikers who are literally doing cartwheels while trying to hitch a ride? After reading about their fun antics, I followed their link to Sayward's blog. Wow! She's been documenting her travels for a while now, including a journey thru the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT is one of the things on my list. A few of the posts inspired me to leave a few comments, then shortly after we began emailing... and the picture is complete.

Digital travelers meeting up online, then crossing paths in the world "outside of the box".

Travel Forever

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.
~ Anais Nin

The Character of a Life on Fire

"Goodbye Summer. We miss you. Write soon. XOXO ~Life"

Song of the Day - "Sidestreet (Mary J Blige)" by ZitanB [Free Download]
"title" by artist
Make no mistake, I am a whiny little pansy when it comes to winter. Not that Austin has a winter. If you showed our weather from December thru February to someone in the Dakota's, they'd call this "fall". Me? I call this "not summer"... 'n that's all that matters. It's NOT! Summer! Did I mention the "whining" part? Fortunately, "not summer" ends when the month of February comes to a close... at the latest, the beginning of March. The above collaboration is a tribute to summer... in all it's warmth and hazy glory.

But this winter *ahem* brought a warm surprise. A fellow traveler and a bright soul stopped off in Austin for a few hours on her way West. As most of my traveling friends don't even set foot on American shores, it was a special treat. I'm actually going to write more on this in a different post, as it really was awesome having Sayward in town for a few hours (and they were very full hours). Look for that post soon.

...and now we come to the point: character. Catching a ride with a friend the other night, I asked him what his van was named. He gave me the "are you mental?" look, then said: "It's a car. It doesn't have a name." That struck me as "mental" in itself, so I poked him about it and started talking about character... and naming things.

In our tribe, almost everything gets a name. An apartment? It's not "home" until it has a name. A car? Won't get you anywhere that matters if it ain't got a name. We name hoodies, notebooks, each other... water bottles. And it's not just naming. Most of these have a story... a history. The laptop I write this on (named "The Crone") has its own story... and an amazing one at that. I can point at my production computer and tell you who gave me the monitor, the trackball, the soundcard and more. Given. You see, gifts (especially) require names. As more than ninety-percent of what I own are gifts, that's a lot of character.

We remember our past homes by their names, by who lived there and by what point in time that meant to us... we remember them as friends that live on in our memories. This goes for clothing as well, such as the long lost Hoodie of Eternal Darkness. Hmmm... in fact, that's a long story. Most of these are long stories... and that is almost entirely the point. The fact that a lot of people own things, use them, but they don't "matter" to them... they live a life entirely based on function, without any form of character... and without a name.

"Memories. You're talking about memories."
~Deckard, Blade Runner

Naming, character and history bring everything to life. They light life on fire. It's not just a laptop, it's a mad rush to make a deal with a programmer in the last hours before leaving on a half-year roadtrip... where everything barely works out... but pulls thru at the last minute. It's a machine that has provided countless hours of song production, graphic design and networking with a tribe that has been scattered across the face of the earth. It's called the Crone. Her two sisters have less history, but they've all served me well... and the history is well worn into her cracked casing. Most techs would stand in awe that she still works... let alone works so well. But she has character... 'n she's well outlived her time.

I can't imagine a life lived that isn't filled to the brim with character. That is what strikes me the hardest whenever I'm reminded that most peeps don't live their life this way.

It's a life lived without a name.

Journey Inward

The longest journey
Is the journey inwards.
Of him who has chosen his destiny,
Who has started upon his quest
For the source of his being.

~ Dag Hammarskjold

Catch that Train

Most people have that fantasy of catching the train that whistles in the night.
~ Willie Nelson