Sunday, December 1, 2013

Excerpt from Bumdom

I was going through some memories via the journals from my travels.  It's no secret I love to write.  It's important.  Sometimes I'll read back to a week ago & be surprised at the insight or stupidity that I don't remember.

Directly in the center pages of my sailing logbook is a direct copy of the first 2 pages from Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck.  It was the last thing I had written in 27 days at sea, before we landed in the Marquesas the next day.  I can only remember the sentiment.

It makes me think of that hiccup in my friends' voices when they're planning a trip, & the excitement underneath that suppressed grin & bright eyes.

Here's verbatem.

-x-x-x-x-x-

I copied down a few passages, flipped it over & smelt it again before re-reading the 1st 2 pages.

When I was very young and the urge to be somewhere else was upon me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.  When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age.  In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job.  Four hoarse blasts of a ship's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping.  The sound of a jet, the engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage.  In other words, I don't improve; In further words, once a bum, always a bum.  I fear the disease is incurable.  I set this matter down not to instruct others, but to inform myself.

When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going.  This to the practical bum is not difficult.  He has a built in garden of reasons to choose from.  Next he must plan his trip in time and space, chose a direction and a destination.  And last he must implement the journey.  How to go, what to take, how long to stay.  This part of the process is invariable and immortal.  I set it down only so that newcomers to bumdom, like teenagers in new-hatched sin, will not think they invented it.

Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over.  A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys.  It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness.  A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.  And all plans, safeguards, policing & coercion are fruitless.  We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip, a trip takes us.  Tourmasters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound & inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip.  Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the-glass bum relax & go along with it.  Only then do the frustrations fall away.  In this a journey is like marriage.  The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.  I feel better now, having said this, although only those who have experienced it will understand it.

6:30pm -> 2:30 local time
4734kn arrived!
WELCOME TO FATU HIVA!
Mon Aug 29th [2011]

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