Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ah, to give it all up

Whenever people tell me what makes them happy, it gets me thinking about what makes ME happy.

Apparently not much. Surrounded by those whom I love, great friends, a satisfying job that pays more than enough, good health, some time to exercise, good food, etc, that should be great. Free from the worries that plague other people, like financial or health, and definitely in a position that I am sure many others would readily swap places with in a heartbeat. Not that I am boastful, but just appreciative of my circumstances.

This is the perfect life. If you want steady stability, this is it. A permanent secure job with a blue chip employer who pays you (for what you do and have experience with) much more than the market equivalent, so you can basically settle down here, and follow the crowd, i.e. work hard at the career, get a promotion every couple of years, buy a house, a car, have a family, etc. Get a pet dog. Excellent.

So why is it that when I read Bryson's books, every single time, I will end up re-examining the above lifestyle? I don't think there is a problem with the lifestyle itself, but geez, I do so want to hike the Appalachian trail too! And I do so want to travel around Europe, and stuff like that. I guess that's what good writers do, put those kind of thoughts in your head. It's not impossible for me to do so, but it IS impossible to straddle both at once; after all, what kinda job would let you go off on a multiple month sabbatical to 'discover myself" or "see the world" etc. We've got to be realistic. Of course, at this stage, some people will go, why is dreaming so unrealistic? What makes THIS realistic? Isn't this an artificial cord we tie around ourselves and hence we can never takes risks and let go and THEN in 30 years we'd look back at this pivotal moment and go GODDAMN if only...

Anyway, I won't prattle anymore. But his stories and the settings do appeal. I would never hike the trail alone, of course, as I'm too cowardly, too inexperienced, too ill equipped and way too imaginative, but it'd be nice to hike around a bit within my limits, and exercise my imagination. Was this spot ever a resting place for a tired Mohican? You know, fanciful stuff like that. Perhaps THAT spot over there was the scene of a dramatic parting between 2 lovers of the rival Cherokee and Iroqois tribes? Ahh...But I could never do Europe backpacking the way he did it. Sure, it holds its appeal, and I'm sure plenty of travellers vouch for it.

But I'm old, pampered and petty, and I shall make no pretenses and be the type of backpacker who isn't really a backpacker but just wants to do certain elements of it just to say they backpacked across say Scandinavia. Nah, either you do it properly and call yourself so, or you don't do it or don't call yourself so. At any rate, I want nice hotels, nice travelling conditions, and certainly, not much alcohol. All I'd reallly like is warm jackets, scarves, music player, notebook, camera and a nice thermos to store hot beverages.

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