“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
– Thomas Paine
Freedom from a mortgage and a job might not be what Paine had in mind, but the spirit of his statement fits! First things first, we are sorry for our silence this week. Who would have thought that being home would be more hectic than being on the road?! We received an offer on our house the day we returned home from our trip, and we’ve spent the past week setting the wheels in motion to move into a much funkier and more economical river-view apartment that better suits our lifestyle. So we spent most of our time this week organizing and resolving the things within our control, and now we wait for the rest of the pieces to fall into place.
Unfortunately, we’re not very good at a waiting, even after a lifetime of practice. When you’re a kid, it’s waiting for your birthday or waiting for Christmas or waiting for your friend to come over. Then it’s waiting to get your license, waiting to go to college, waiting to graduate. Once you start working, it’s waiting for the weekend, waiting for vacation, waiting for the next job or promotion. Waiting can take over your life. This realization brings to mind the quote most often attributed to John Lennon (though said by others before him): “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”
There is some truth in that statement, but is it all just waiting? What about preparation and effort to ready oneself for what’s next? Is preparation the same as waiting? The answer, of course, is no. Preparation involves taking an active role in the future and showing initiative, while waiting implies a being passive while other things occur around you. We’ve arrived at this juncture in our lives through preparation. We’ve done our best—sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding—to control the things we could and to mitigate risk from circumstances outside of our control.
And now, we wait. Better yet, we wait and we live our lives! This is a time to be active. To put worries to the side and run races, write poems, visit friends and family, and enjoy each other’s company (and of course, update our blog!). And as we wait for items outside of our control to be resolved, we can take comfort in the fact that we have prepared the best we could.
We stumbled across the quote below from a great adventurer and wanted to share it as an encouraging piece of wisdom that sums up the impact of preparation and initiative:
“Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
– William Hutchinson Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)
On Saturday morning, we drove to downtown Tampa to meet a friend and mentor of mine, Janet, for coffee at a local place called Sophie’s French Café and Bakery. We were near the University of Tampa, and there was an arts festival in progress on the same street as the café. We sat at a table among the eclectic collection of mismatched chairs and tables and caught up on life, writing, family and travel. We also discussed plans for a visit later this year during which J and I will help Janet move her belongings back to New England to start a new job.
While telling Janet about our plans to travel and write for the upcoming 12 months, I mentioned that since leaving my job I’ve had a hard time remembering what day it is. Janet responded, “You’re on mythic time now. You’re living in the moment on Kairos time, instead of by the clock on Chronos time.” Her statement stayed with me over the past couple of days, as many of Janet’s observations have, and last night I started doing some research into the concept of “mythic time.”
Chronos is the Greek word for chronological or sequential time. This is the time of clocks and calendars, and the time that most of us exist in during our day-to-day lives. Kairos is the Greek word for mythic time, or those periods where time seems to evaporate: creative spells, long runs, meditations, getting lost in a task, etc. Further research into Kairos revealed that the term can be translated as “the supreme or opportune moment,” a moment where one must choose to act in order to take advantage of an opportunity in front of them. A closely related phrase is Carpe Diem, typically translated as “seize the day.”
I also read that the Greeks believed that mythic time was the time during which the gods lived out and recorded their stories. These stories were emblazoned on the wheel of time as lessons for humans, and then the wheel was set into motion, forming Chronos time. The metaphor of living our life on mythic time, completely in the moment and taking advantage of opportunities as they emerge, is beautiful to me. This year will be a time for J and me to live out and emblazon new stories and experiences onto our past, new myths and lessons for how we will live our future together…whatever it will be. -M
The anticipation is high, and the waiting is painful. These last two weeks are moving more slowly than any of the previous twelve months. We’re distracting ourselves by staying focused on trip preparations. We’ve sketched out the itinerary for our first two weeks on the road, and it’s shaping up to be a 50/50 split of camping nights and nights spent in other accommodations (like highway hotels or the homes of family and friends along the way). We have reservations for a few anchor nights, and we’ll play the rest by ear. I’m obsessively checking the 10-day forecasts for Key West (stunningly warm) and Gatlinburg (confusingly bipolar). We are planning to camp near Gatlinburg in the Great Smoky Mountains NP, and the overnight temps are still dancing in the 30s. I’ve started to work on a meal plan so that grocery shopping and food preparation and cooking gear all scream efficiency and economy. And given that writing will be a major component of this journey, we’ve created several new blog sites, including this one to track our travels. (In addition to this blog, we’ll each maintain our own individual blogs for topics ranging from food and fitness to poetry and photography. You can find links to them on the right side of this screen.) Each day brings us one step closer to the morning when we shift the car into drive and log our first mile. That moment cannot arrive soon enough. -J