Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Answering the Call of "Bumdom"

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas.
[Photo: D.F.G. Hailson]
Mark Twain wisely noted that: “twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

In Episode 34, I share some of what it can look like to answer what John Steinbeck referred to as, “the call of bumdom.” More than four years ago, my husband, Gene, and I decided to throw off the bowlines, to sail away from the safe harbor, to explore, to follow our dreams, to discover. Answering the call of bumdom has launched us into a journey that has taken us to wild places and into wild company, a journey that has also made of us “Rubber Hobos,” workers at odd jobs in odd places.

When I began considering an extended period of travel, it was, in part, because I needed a change. The home I’d long thought of as a sanctuary was no longer such. I had been deeply disappointed and derailed by an overturning in my life and I needed distance. I was physically, emotionally and spiritually depleted and I was no longer willing to continue in a way of life that was draining the life out of me. I needed to lay new tracks toward respite, renewal, and relief.

Like Gustave Flaubert, I was eager to be “transplanted by the winds.” Like Charles Baudelaire, I was eager to be in the places of departure and arrival, eager to be aboard machines of motion. Like Edward Hopper, I was seeking the poetry in a train car, the sanctuary in a coffee shop, the message in a neon sign. Like Alexander von Humboldt, I was seeking knowledge, an expansion of my understanding of the world and its workings. Like William Wordsworth, I craved the restorative power of nature.

Gold Beach, Oregon. [Photo: D.F.G. Hailson]
BUT, ultimately, foundationally — through and through — what I needed most was the ministry of the sublime. I needed to hear from God. I wanted to connect with His artistry in nature and be awed by His power breathed in and through the created order. My spirit craved healing and I was eager to paint what I learned and saw and felt and heard and smelled – all that I experienced with every sense and every fiber of my being — with words and photographs and sketches.

Alain de Botton, author of The Art of Travel (a book from which I have drawn much inspiration), has lamented that: “There are some who have crossed deserts, floated on ice caps and cut their way through jungles but whose souls we would search in vain for evidence of what they have witnessed.” I didn’t want that to be true of me; I wanted to BE wherever I was.

But I shouldn’t lead you to believe that this unconventional life  I was to embrace was to be only a serious, studious search for re-ignition. I was also up for some light-hearted, boisterous, frolic-laden, delight-filled fun. 

View from Bright Angel Trail, North Rim,
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.
[Photo: D.F.G. Hailson]
As my husband and I made plans to set off for parts unknown, I was filled with anticipation and I was eager to embrace the vulgar realities of wayfaring. Like Mr. Toad and his friends from The Wind in the Willows, I delighted in considering what the open road, the dusty highway, the heath, the common, the hedgerows and the rolling downs might hold in the way of adventure.

And so, as 2010 was drawing to a close, my husband Gene and I sold our home in Pennsylvania and set out to gather experiences–outside of our experiences–on a road trip across the United States. Adding the thirty states through which we've wayfared over the last four years, we've now visited every state as well as every province and territory in Canada save for Nunavut. 

Young gators, Big Cypress National Preserve, Ochopee, Florida.
[Photo: D.F.G. Hailson]
Along the way we’ve met fascinating people, from goldpanners and a family of wild mushroom pickers in Oregon to a moonshiner in Louisiana, from a mariachi band in Texas to Gullah-Geechee sweetgrass basket weavers in South Carolina. We’ve spent delight-filled days marveling at glorious natural wonders from the majestic Grand Canyon in Arizona to the hoodoo-filled Bryce Amphitheater in Utah, from the lush and soul-soothing Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida to the barren salt flats of Badwater in California’s Death Valley.
"The Girls," Badlands, Interior, South Dakota.
[Photo: D.F.G. Hailson]
 This episode centers on what inspired us to get on the road, how we fared through some misadventures in South Dakota, and what you can expect to hear in future episodes as I share our past and continuing adventures.

1 comment:

  1. wow that is great stuff, simply loving it, the way you are working on this blog is just too awesome Lost and found