Lately we’ve gotten a lot of great questions about the challenges of this quest. A recent traffic jam gave me the perfect opportunity to reflect on a few of the answers, which might provide some insight especially for folks considering a similar journey.
Notes from Connecticut
It’s 7:42 AM, we’re stuck in traffic 2 hours before NYC, detouring on route to Shenandoah Valley NP. We should have just slept in the Walmart parking lot with its bright lights keeping us sort of awake all night and therefore getting us on the road at 5 AM. Instead I opted for a hotel, darkness, a very comfy bed and a cozy breakfast not served until 6:30. Between wrong turns and rush hour we spent five hours on what I expected to be a 1.5 hour journey.
So goes life on the road, and this morning perfectly demonstrates a truth: though we paint a beautiful picture of this quest, the day-to-day tasks are not always rainbows and bunnies. Nothing ever is, right?
- Somewhere in MN.
Challenge 1. Everything is irregular – no routine
Oh the spontaneous life! My Germini spirit craves change and creativity flows best when the senses are continually stimulated by new experiences. Yet there is something nice – yes, nice – about a routine. Some morning exercise and meditation, and then the blissful feeling of sitting down to work on something you enjoy while sipping hot tea in your favorite ceramic mug.
You come to rely on your surroundings and daily tasks, which brings comfort.
Travel means never getting into a reliable flow with anything save the inevitable moving around. You can’t count on reliable sleep, reliable food options, even reliable bathrooms. (Unless you can book with the same hotel chain everywhere you go).
We have felt the physical and mental effects of a constantly changing diet, sleepless nights due to new environments, irregular exercise, and frequent challenges.
Challenge 2. Tougher to react to the unexpected
A perfect example:
I dealt with a nasty eye infection in Chicago, in both eyes. Looking as high as a kite led me to tossing two pairs of contact lenses and resorting to my glasses, which I’ve been wearing for the past month now. While anyone can get an eye infection at any time, finding care and needing to replace lenses on the road is not easy. In my hometown I could have just called my reliable eye clinic and received new lenses ten days later.
Then there was that time Andres lost his wallet for an hour. No explanation necessary to describe why that’s a problem while living on the road. Fortunately it was simply hiding between the backseats.
Well I could continue, but at this point you surely understand.
Challenge 3. Missing community
We’ve now frequented at least 20 libraries across the U.S., and how many times have I wondered man, it would be so nice to have this as my local library. It can feel lonely to float from place to place, never really being part of that environment though you try to have authentic encounters with locals. Too often we feel like we’re in a rush from one place to the next and I’ve wondered before, can this be good?
Is it worth it?
I’ll keep the answer short:
In just five months of this national park adventure, I’ve rediscovered my artist voice, gained more confidence than ever before, and learned more about this country – and the world! It’s especially incredibly rewarding for artists who are ever-seeking.
However I’ve realized I can’t promise anything for the next five months, even the next five days. The act of traveling changes you in ways that staying in one spot never could. Just as we have to get used to a constantly changing environment, we have to accept the inevitable personal changes invoked by the journey.