Things are now in full swing for me; I’m back on the road a mere 8 months after returning from my last excursion, Just Might Be Ok, which saw me quest through Latin America to Ecuador where I found ayahuasca. This adventure, which I’m calling World Was on Fire, has a slightly more reined-in scope as its focused on the American wasteland that is the southwest.
That seems like a long time to not be living this life even if it is the shortest time between departures I have yet endured. Part of me feels like I should have been back on the road on July 10, the day after my brother’s wedding (i.e. the only reason I went back home to Canada) but it actually worked out a little better this way as opportunities revealed themselves to me late in the game and allowed me to depart in style.
One such opportunity was flying down to the American SW for a job. Not only was it a nice little cashflow bump but I also got down here on the company’s dime.
Another benefit of departing later was that it gave me time to brainstorm looks, themes and aesthetics I wanted to broach as I traversed the American wasteland. I think all of that experimentation has paid off and culminated in a look which is badass yet softened by various effeminate accents and touches, but most importantly hearkens back to those two most ubiquitous American archetypes, the soldier and the cowboy.
Finally the delayed departure allowed me to test my feelings for my friend, Marijo whom I intend to meet up with over the next few weeks when she flies in from Asia. We had talked of traveling together when we met in Nicaragua earlier this year, but our paths diverged from that point. However, the feelings remained constant which tells me that it’s something more substantial than the strong feelings that surface during a romance in paradise.
So how are things going?
Very well. I was spot on about the goodwill I would receive in America wearing my veteran-status on my sleeve -people are very inclined to approach me when they suspect I’ve served. Beyond that when I engage them in conversation and tell them about my journey they become captivated; either they used to hitch-hike/backpack or they intend to one day and they want to be a part of my adventure.
Whatever it is that motivates people to reach out to me I am aware that there is an exchange taking place even though it may seem one-sided -After all, I’m not typically giving them gas money if they pick me up or paying for room and board if they furnish me a place to crash. Quite the contrary; people who put me up for the evening often furnish me with meals, rides or other above and beyond-type help.
So what are they getting out of it? Well if you’d asked me more than a week ago I would have said that they are getting a story, or a chance to be part of my adventure, or most importantly the glow of living up to one’s highest potential and helping another. That last point especially is foundational to what I’m doing out here: I endeavour to put people in situations where they can act on their better inclinations. I try and streamline and make more attractive the act of doing kindness by making it more interesting, sexy, palatable, etc. After all, it’s so easy to be negative or indifferent to others; it’s almost a reflex. So I’m trying to get around people’s default programming by putting them in an uncommon situations that said programming may not account for.
**As an aside, it’s a beautiful thing when people get that curious look and start asking me about what I’m doing -for all intents and purposes I’m a bum on the street but that descriptor is reductive and frankly inaccurate. After all I’m not asking for anything but I am incentivizing the offering of help.**
However if you asked me what people get out of helping me now, after what I’ve learned in this last week, well the answer has changed, or at least refined. I stayed with the Kramer family this past weekend in Oro Valley and on my last night with them sitting around the campfire they helped me realize that I have something else to offer. I was tapping my bongos along to some music while we sat out there and their son, Kadin put on a hip-hop instrumental and suggested I rap (freestyle). I was reluctant at first but then something occurred to me. Beyond the fact that I’d alluded to my fondness for freestyling in my Couchsurfing profile which I’d met them through, I realized that me dropping bars would amp up the evening and make it better for all.
It was my job to do this.
I rapped for like an hour to various beats and many laughs were had. Did I fuck up, stumble, and say dumb, vulgar shit? Absolutely. But I also said some slick shit and entertained them. I began to realize that this hobby I’ve practiced for years by myself or with fellow “heads” could actually be plied and used to entertain other people and it was an empowering realization. I started to feel like something of a troubadour, a minstrel even.
“The minstrel of the Dawn is he/ Not too wise but oh so free.
He’ll talk of life out on the street/ He’ll play it sad and say it sweet.
Look into his shining face/ Of loneliness you’ll always find a trace.
Just like me and you/ He’s tryin’ to get into things more happy than blue.”
-Gordon Lightfoot, The Minstrel of the Dawn
I’m at a point now where I yearn for a new opportunity to perform and entertain. Not in exchange for food or a room or out of a sense of obligation but simply because it is something that I have to give which can bring joy and so I want to give it freely and openly.