Airstreams are superb travel vehicles, optimally designed to make exploring geography with exceptional comfort. But they are good for something more than that. I often meet fellow travelers who use their Airstreams for exploring a region that only they can reach: inside their own mind.
So many of us are just a little bit weird by conventional assessment. We eschew the normal travel pattern by avoiding airlines and hotels, we haul our children and pets to quirky places, and we often are accused (sometimes with frank admiration) of having an “alternative lifestyle” by virtue of being free-booting and happy to take a chance once in a while. That last characterization is a bit of a broad brush, but I’ll accept it because I’ve come to realize that “alternative lifestyle,” although a loaded term, is another way of saying we live where the wildflowers grow.
That’s where the interesting stuff happens. You get a little more room to roam around when you bend the rules and conventions of straightlaced society. We meet people all the time who admire the traveling lifestyle, and they generally fall into two groups, those who have done it too and get the concept, and those who are firmly in the center of the fairway and happy to admire the wildflowers from afar. It takes all kinds to make a world, so I’m not implying that any one group has it right or wrong, but it is interesting to me to see what choices and options have opened up to us simply by virtue of releasing ourselves from the conventional bonds of society and taking a chance that something good might happen.
It really doesn’t take much to broaden your life. Last night we were talking with one of our overnight guests, a writer who is going to take his Airstream across the country to find raw material for his next book. Along the way, he’ll discover new friends and interests. Heck, he has already and he hasn’t even left yet. I am looking forward to reading what he has gleaned from his travels. He’s launching on a massive cross-country expedition but there’s just as much value in taking the Airstream off to a quiet spot in the woods for a couple of days to re-connect with yourself.
I also think its interesting to see how generally-accepted social boundaries change when you take people away from their routine and put them into a campground for a few days. Suddenly people are feeling freer, and you can see it in their dress, their speech, their relaxation of personal rules, what they eat, how they decorate, and from a thousand other little cues. Nearly everyone comes away refreshed, and a few (like us) come away with a determination to stay out in the wildflowers as long as possible.
“I’m fixing a hole, where the rain gets in,
and stops my mind from wandering …”
My plan for the summer includes a few trips like that too. I want to do more writing and come up with new ideas for the coming years. The first step is to “fix the holes” and stop the rain from getting in, and travel is great for that. Deep in most people’s minds are the thoughts that we haven’t had time to process, and the ideas we never gave a chance. There are also often old hurts and energy-sapping memories that can be better vanquished with a change of scene. There are inspirations waiting to be born, and viewpoints yet to be conceived. Once you clear out the detritus of daily life, who knows where you will go next? Perhaps an “alternative lifestyle” is waiting out there for you–even if it’s only a change of perspective.