You know what it's like:- you wait forever for a guest blog post, and then two come along at once. Further to contributions from Stephen and from my sister Lois, here is the first of two from my other sister Joanna.
A Road Trip for the Mind
I have a soft spot for the American beat generation. It started when my friend Naomi posted a copy of ‘On the Road’ to me with the instruction to read and dream. I read and I did, indeed, dream. It’s a cliché, of course, to dream of the open road but the idea of getting away from it all has a far reaching appeal.
Whether it’s Kerouac’s jazz clubs of New Orleans you want or a solitary exploration such as that taken by Christopher McCandless into Alaska, as described in the book ’Into the Wild’ by Jon Krakauer, the idea is fundamentally the same - that one will get away and have nothing to worry about other than what’s straight ahead. I see it as a type of control, a way of keeping life at bay, an ‘I will come towards you life, and I will seek you out on my own terms.’
While I still want to do my American Road trip - at the moment I am living vicariously through those who have gone before – I’m currently more interested in whether there is a way of bringing the sense of freedom, whether real or imagined, which comes from travelling into everyday 20th century life.
I’m in my bedroom trying to do some work; there are jobs to be applied for, emails to be read. All around me are objects wanting my attention: books, DVDs, a half knitted jersey for my nephew, my guitar. I work full time, make theatre and write so it’s safe to say I feel a little bit overwhelmed at times.
Of course, I’m not saying anything that’s not already been said by the thousands of people struggling to find space for life in life itself. And short of running away and living as a hermit – which, of course, will include its own pressures – there is nothing we can do but face up to the fact that there is a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in.
Moan over, let’s get to the point and put things in perspective. I’m in the privileged position of being able to make choices and these choices are, on the whole, positive. We live in a world of opportunities; with opportunity comes choice and with choice comes an opportunity cost. Maybe we just need to accept that we can’t do everything and be grateful for what we can do.
I’m working on it. And writing this is a start. In the time it’s taken I’ve not had a chance to panic about how much I’ve got to do and what I’m not doing. I’ve had my own little journey through the world of words and come out the other end better for it.
So let’s try to accept our limitations graciously. We can only do what we can do. And if it all gets too much sometimes, as it no doubt will, just remember that the road trip is only a dream away.