wanderlust

There is an affliction some of us have. It’s called wanderlust. It’s compulsive and powerful. Some of us learn how to work around it, but it’s still there causing insomnia and impulsive weekend road trips.

Those of us so afflicted see a desolate road or a dark highway and there is a pull in our chests to take that road wherever it winds. The feeling often starts with a musing of “where might I go if I could go anywhere?” Perhaps some time in the evenings is spent tracing routes on GoogleMaps. I used to have a road map of the United States hanging on the wall across from my bed. I would lie in my bed creating points from A to B to C to D to E, when I should have been getting my good nights sleep for work the next day.

Then there are days where tracing routes on a map isn’t enough and I have the tingling in my muscles that make me get up and GO.
Sometimes I have a companion for these jaunts.

and sometimes it’s just me.

I’ve had this feeling for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, my mom and I drove from southern Illinois to Berkeley, California and back more than a few times. For many years, my favorite sunrise was looking out past a field while standing in the parking lot of a Howard Johnsons somewhere in Oklahoma. I love that forever sky.

I’ve done that trip and many more. A lot of them alone, starting at age 17. Once I get past the first day of driving, I settle in to a comfortable rhythm. That is where I love to be – after the first day of settling in, and before the anticipation of immanent location arrival. That is when I leave my stressors behind and have no particular destination except for the next place to gas up, eat, or find lodging.

Advertisements

priorities

The word, “humane” means “having or showing compassion or benevolence.” and it originates from “late Middle English: the earlier form of human….” and more etymology describes the word as meaning “having qualities befitting human beings.”

“Inhumane,” obviously, is the opposite. It means “without compassion for misery or suffering; cruel.”

This all presupposes that humans are the stick against which compassion or benevolence are measured. That humans are the epitome of goodness and if you are not behaving well, you are obviously lower than human.

Are we better because of our opposable thumbs? Our ability to poison large swaths of water or radiate huge populations? Is our wonderful humanity defined by our polluting of the oceans? Is it because we send probes into space and can make fire? We are truly an amazing species. We can make new limbs with 3-D printers , can contact anyone around the world within a matter of minutes. We have harnessed energies from the earth and the sky, we love and care and play.

Are humans truly the measure of “humane”? I think the word is a misnomer. We war, we torture, we create lives that are “nasty brutish and short,” then create laws in order to avoid that. We torture animals for our pleasure in a state of cognitive dissonance. We can generally agree that this is not compassionate nor benevolent. And while not every human is awful, we have a built-in capacity for such atrocities. Because of this ‘built-in’ capacity to commit great acts of misery how can we say that humans represent the highest good that is “humane”?

a writer writes

My dad liked to tell me “Honey, a writer writes. You have to practice each day in order to get good. It’s like anything – takes hard work and practice.” He even gave me some books on the subject. “On Writing Well” and “Writing Down The Bones” and probably a few other books too. The problem was, I didn’t think of myself as a ‘writer’, but rather as ‘a person who writes.’
There’s a difference. A ‘writer’ is someone who dedicates time and hard work to the art and craft of the written word. ‘A person who writes’ is an occasional thing, a hobby, something done randomly for the pleasure of it.

Over the years, I’ve done both. I’ve been a professional writer and have been paid for my works, I’ve won prizes for poetry, I’ve kept this hobby of a website up since July 10, 2003 (in various incarnations), and I’ve kept a journal since fourth grade. I am a writer. I am a person who writes.

I have never given much credence to the idea of “New Years Resolutions,” but this year I decided to at least make a solid run at being a writer who writes. The idea was to be more consistent with my posts here. Put up something new every Monday or some-such. It would force me to work on the craft of writing, to pay more attention to the output instead of my usual stream-of-consciousness post I usually send out. I was going to write something here each week regardless of how I felt. Not feeling inspired? So what. Nothing coming to mind? Deal with it. When I was in high school I complained to my dad that my history teacher was an idiot (he really was) and that the reason I cut class so often was because it was a waste of time to sit in there and not learn anything. My pop replied that in any situation there is always something to be learned. Maybe I could learn how to be more patient, maybe I could learn what not to do as a teacher and use those skills in other aspects of my life. There is always something. So, with this writing problem – there is always something to write about. Theoretically. Right, pop?

One of the reasons I dislike New Years Resolutions is because it seems like a fake promise to yourself. You only promised because everyone else was doing it. If you really wanted to do X, you would pick a random date and start. Instead, New Years Eve has become a high-pressure date. I hear “What is your New Years Resolution?” practically everywhere I go. Work, a bar, dinner with friends…. Why put that much undue pressure on yourself? If you don’t follow through, instead of just chalking it up to “Okay, I didn’t complete that this time, I’ll just try again,” instead you have BROKEN YOUR NEW YEARS RESOLUTION! Bad you!

Here it is Wednesday, January 8th 2014 and this is my first post, a week into the New Year. It is not Monday. I am not writing because I have a deadline for myself to post something by tonight. I’m writing because the thought struck me “a writer writes” and I started to think about my dad and those books he gave me and my wishy-washy New Years Resolution.

So, for what it’s worth, I will try. I will try to write something each week. I’m warning you up front that this experiment might lead to some pretty sucky posts.
Hope you stick around for it.