What Makes My Journey Interesting?

Why would anyone read my blog? Borrowing a phrase from peace activist Wavy Gravy, I’m just another “Bozo on the bus.” I’m just a guy with a dog who wants to see what life is like outdoors on the road. However, I’ve been surprised by the number of people who, upon hearing my plans have lauded my decision to leave familiarity and embrace the unknown. I’ve heard, “I want to be kept apprised of the experiences that you have.” I’ve also heard, “Thank goodness someone is living my dream.” Upon hearing my plans, one friend said, “You’ve always been one of my heroes.” While not aspiring to be anyone else’s hero, I think this person meant that he, too is jazzed by my plans. If others I knew were taking a similar path, I’d want to know about their experiences. Nonetheless, I have no clue what benefit will accrue to someone else who will read my record of occurrences and observations.

Years ago yoga teacher Rodney Yee said that he was not in control of what students were learning when teaching a class. He could be teaching the fundamentals of back bending while a random student might be resolving a decades old disillusionment with his mother-in-law. Degree of impact is an interactive phenomenon. Sometimes the writer is enlightening. Other times the reader happens to need what is on the page. Might individuals that I don’t know gain inspiration from one of my blog posts? Might a post of mine help you resolve a decades old disagreement with your mother-in-law?

I’m writing this blog in part because I want a record of my thoughts and feelings during the adventure. Day to day I’ll evaluate what reaches the blog worthy bar that I’ve set. How much will I plan and what will occur without planning? Will the plans that I make be malleable? What podcasts will I listen to while I’m driving? Which audio books will fill the air? My music will be a blend of artists like John Prine, the Indigo Girls, Jesse Winchester, John Hyatt, the Avett Brothers, Paul Thorn, Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlisle.

Will I have followers for whom water piques their interest? I’ve acquired an inflatable kayak for recreation and fishing on rivers and lakes. I have no clue about whether my dog, Lola can maneuver in a kayak without tipping it over. I’ll carry a Grayl water purifier and filter bottle. Most rigs have a 6 gallon hot water tank. Sixteen gallons is the average amount of water consumed when showering at home. I’ll still get wet, and I’ll still get clean, but I’ll not dwell in the shower. My top choice for swimming is a lake. My top choice for canoeing or kayaking is a river. Wet weather is always an influencer. Rain doesn’t dissuade me from going outdoors. My intention is to ultimately drive from the Atlantic to the Pacific, stopping at the Great Lakes, lots of small lakes, and rivers along my way.

Will anyone following me wonder how Lola is getting along? At times she’ll be alone in the rig, barking at all who pass, guarding our turf. We’ll have long conversations, me for the sake of talking to a being without concern for keeping it interesting, and her for the sake of being reassured that I’ve not forgotten about her. I’ve just ordered a backpack for Lola to carry her own supplies when we’re hiking, a collapsible water bowl, and a personal flotation device for when we’re on water.

Several years ago I attended a music workshop with singer/songwriters David Wilcox and Andy Gullahorn. A session they hosted was entitled, “Using My Guitar As a Personal Flotation Device.” They spoke of and performed songs that had served to keep them afloat. My adventure will serve me in a similar way. I’ll pay attention to what keeps me afloat. I need to move or I’ll sink.

Decisions

Decision making is not taught well in school. My first memory of a conscious effort to learn about making decisions was during high school. My social studies teacher attempted to teach me about the development of culture and the nature of people. Its value in forging my own decision making process was negligible. My parents taught me about values, about good and bad, right and wrong.  

The craft of good decision making intrigues me. Am I making a wise decision to discard so much of my past and to respond to the calling of an unclear path ahead? What informs my decisions?

I needed to identify what I wanted. I wanted to lighten my load and open my eyes to a less tethered life. 

Then I inquired about what motivated my decision. My wife, Sarla died in 2020 at 68 years old. I’m 68 years old. Sarla’s untimely departure brought forth acknowledgment that I don’t know how much more time I have on the planet. I want to make hay while I can, while I’m still vital, and while I feel that I’ve got another run in me.

I considered alternatives. I couldn’t reconcile myself to complacence. Staying put in a comfortable home surrounded by nice things isn’t satisfactory. I needed to move on, to move out.

I weighed the issues. Would I miss my friends? Some of these relationships are close and decades old. How will my absence influence my relationship with my grandchildren during their key developmental years? Will I long for familiarity? Will I yearn for the hours that I typically spend in my garden, especially during the spring, summer, and fall? What if I travel for 3 months and settle in one place for the next three? What if, what if, what if? Long ago a friend introduced me to the concept of “Going to the circus with the whatifskis,” following a stream of endless questions. Some are necessary. but most obscure clear judgment.

Sarla introduced me to the concept of “choiceless choices.” It’s a variant on following your muse. If the choice is obvious, then turning away from it would be a mistake. I need to go.

I took action. I committed to buying my rig on December 17, 2020. I committed to selling my house at the same time. I considered downsizing my residence and keeping a base in Memphis. The scant supply of homes on the market didn’t produce a suitable replacement home. I elected to make my rig my home. I decided to store enough furniture for a two bedroom house at some point in the future.

I reflected on these decisions. Thus far I’ve not received warning messages from my internal dialogue. I’m comfortable at this moment in the “not knowing,” a concept taught to me by friend, Cyndi Lee.

“The world is your oyster” is a quote often associated with advice given to a young person by someone older. In spite of not qualifying as a young person, I can still find something special, the proverbial pearl in the oyster. It will be guided by the questions discussed above and the decisions that are made from that process.

Welcome to My Blog

Hello. This is Jimmy Lewis. I’m in Memphis, Tennessee. My golden doodle, Lola and I are leaving on a North American tour in May, 2021. We’ll be traveling in a 2021 Jayco Melbourne 24L motorhome. We have neither time constraints nor precise destination specifications.

We’ll spend May in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and then head north through New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont. If Canadians resume the practice of putting out a welcome mat for Americans, then we’ll cross the border.

The seed for this journey began after my wife, Sarla passed away in May, 2020. Sarla was a yogi. An early yoga teacher of hers implored her to “Have what you need, and use what you have.” As I prepare to close on the sale of our home on April 30, 2021, I’m deciding what I need based on the likelihood of using what I have. I give some things away without a flicker of feeling. When more meaningful items like the piano I inherited from my parents leave the premises, I feel like I’m saying goodbye to an old friend for the last time.

Sarla’s death lessened my attachment to the home we had enjoyed for 15 years and life as I knew it. I didn’t need and couldn’t possibly use a house that could satisfy the needs of a family with four children. I’ll no longer experience residence, a concept identified with staying in a specified place, as I’ve heretofore known it. Life will never be the same, nor do I want to attempt to shape my future into a likeness of what I once knew.

I’ve set my sights on adventure. I want to be challenged by not knowing who or what I’ll meet on the road. The outdoors is one of my default antidotes for stress. Other than my rig, I won’t have an indoors base. Whereas others might opt to downsize so that they have the stability of a landing spot, I won’t be able to go “home” as I’ve known it. I’m jazzed about the prospect of being at the whim of the muse, to go where my finger lands on turning pages of the Rand McNally atlas.

My dog, Lola is indifferent even though I’ve been talking to her about the journey every day. She looks quizzically at me when I enthusiastically say we’re hitting the road together. I’m confident that she’ll do well. We’ve previously driven together to and from a destination 12 hours from home. She curiously gazed out the window and occasionally snoozed in the passenger seat. She didn’t express displeasure about the podcasts and music selection that I chose to entertain and inform me while driving.

This trip isn’t driven by personal goals. Will I learn more about myself? Will I take advantage of the opportunity to reflect? Will I be lonely? Will I be uneasy? I’ll follow these questions.