Lately, I find myself fascinated by news stories of people and their boats. Last week, our local NPR station followed the progress of a man and his canoe as he circumnavigated Miami's canals. Along the way, he saw a very different view of Miami and met some interesting people.
I wasn't the only one fascinated with his journey. Along the way people offered him food and water, and I even heard one segment where a man offered the traveller his back yard hammock for the night.
Yesterday I read this story about a man who circumnavigated the Americas alone on his 27 foot sailboat. These kind of feats have always captured me. Most days, I have no desire to take a solitary journey, but I do admire that single-minded focus.
I've spent much of the last 4 months on the road, or preparing for the next journey, or recovering from the last trip. Why am I so drawn to tales of voyage?
I do love getting away from normal life, seeing new vistas, revisiting beloved destinations. It's easier for me to stay in the present moment when I'm not submersed in my daily life of work and home. It's easier for me to focus on my reading and on my travelling partners when I'm away. I don't fritter away as much time online when my online time is limited.
Or maybe there's a different explanation. The other night, on my way home, I saw two boys, about age 10, riding their bikes. The sun was setting behind them and bathed us all in an otherworldly, golden light. The boys had longer hair than modern boys have, and that hair wasn't constrained by a helmet.
Go ahead and gasp at the lack of safety. But I tell you, those boys looked so joyous. They zoomed down one of my city's major roads with such gleeful smiles on their faces. I smiled at them as they crossed the street, and one of them looked back at me with a grin so fierce that I wanted to go home and get on my own bike. I wanted to tear down city streets on a bike I could hardly control with my hair flowing out behind me.
Instead, I'll return to the gym, to my safe, tethered spin bike. I'll spend my day at work, spinning a tapestry of e-mails that few will read and that likely won't be important in months to come. I'll solve problems and trouble-shoot, and in doing so, likely create new situations that require circumnavigation.
Ah, modern life. I'm cleaner than I would be on a sailboat, and perhaps safer. But infinitely more constrained.
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