What will your verse be?

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In honor of Robin Williams, this quote from the Dead Poet’s Society has been making me think…

“But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

This quote scares me a little bit.  It’s frightening to think in terms of “contribution” when I think about life, even if the contribution being referenced here is an expression or perspective rather than an actual “work” or “deed”.  I guess it’s just overwhelming to imagine that anyone is watching or caring what anyone else does or “contributes.”  That this life or “play” is a group activity…

Because life is a group activity where we’re all sharing in the experience- in the causes and effects of this or that, people do care.  And at least in my circles, there are people who have told me they don’t like what we do.  They don’t like this miles & points hobby.  Then, of course, there are others who say they think it’s great.  Everyone’s got an opinion and I am one of those unfortunate folks who can’t help but care what that opinion is- something I need to work on.  As though it’s not enough for me to contribute a verse I’m happy with; I want to make sure everyone else likes my verse too.  Heaven forbid it should be misunderstood as a sad, unsettling, or controversial verse, right? …No.

What a backwards way of thinking.  Because the great play that is this life IS made up of all of those verses, or it wouldn’t be much of a thing worth seeing.  It wouldn’t be an experience.

A conclusion I come to so often is that travel is like life. (Duh.)  Just as life is full of the good and the bad and the ugly, so is travel.  On the one hand you have a blue-watered paradise in the islands of Greece.  And it’s worth seeing.  On the other hand, you have a dirty, noisy street in India.  And that’s worth seeing too.

 

This is a very different post, I realize.  But the reality is I could’ve either posted it on my secret blog that only a few friends know about, or I could have posted it on this one.  And I chose this one.

Because …mostly I’m curious…what kind of feedback do you all get from your friends, families, and communities about the travel you do or the way you travel?  Do you get suspicious looks or disapproving comments as I’ve sometimes gotten?  If so, how do you respond?  Or…have you gotten enthusiasm?  And how do you respond to that?

And what have the good, bad, and ugly experiences in your travel been?  What is your tallest peak and what is your deepest valley?

 

In some ways, my “verse” is curiosity for the ways people tick.  I am genuinely curious about this shared human experience and the different ways we go about it.  So I would love it if you shared your thoughts:  What are your beautiful moments in travel and your not-so-beautiful ones?  And how do people react to your “verse”?  Or rather…how do you respond to people who don’t understand your “verse”?

6 Comments on “What will your verse be?

  1. When it comes to how others react to your “verse”, I think it’s important to understand that you’ll always have people who disagree or disapprove of the way you live your life. Everyone has their own perceptions of you, the world, and life in general, and those perceptions are unique to their own mind, just as yours is to you. No two people are the same, and we can never fully convey our subconscious identities and beliefs to each other, or at least we haven’t evolved to that point yet.

    For me, I’d say its few and far in-between when I get anyone shaking their head in disapproval because of my traveling, or desire to do so. But when they do, it’s even more rarely about traveling in general, but more so the “traditional” lifestyle that I reject. Like I said though, everyone’s perception is unique, and I realize that theirs simply isn’t in sync with mine. I live life the way I want to, in a way that makes me content, and I never give other people the remote control to my emotions. I respect the fact that they see life differently, but I won’t let their perception take away from the happiness of mine.

    I realize my “verse” is just a single line in a big, multi-act performance. I follow my own beat, doing whatever makes me happy, but at the same time I strive to be kind to others and leave a net-positive impact in the lives of the people I meet and the places I go. I guess kind of like changing the world, one small action at a time. But the differences that could be made if everyone followed that philosophy…

    Adapted from context from a Ben Harper song, “My choice is what I choose to do, and if I’m causing no harm it shouldn’t bother you. Your choice is who you choose to be, and if you’re causing no harm then you’re alright with me”.

    • Mm I love Ben Harper by the way so I appreciate that quote. 🙂

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I really admire people who have the integrity to be who they are without too much regard to nay-sayers and head-shakers. I think I will be much happier with my verse (and much truer to it) the less I empower others to judge by fearing that they will.

  2. Thank you for sharing Carrie. I appreciate your openness, as well as Drew’s. I get crazy and suspicious more often than enthusiasm. I see love and forgiveness as much more important than travel-lifestyle choices, so I usually don’t let the comments of others bother me. As for highs and lows, even being stuck in Montana and Wyoming with car troubles had a silver lining. Where else can you see buffalo gallop away from a thunder and lightning storm, or a Moose hurdle a six foot fence with little effort? So let the bad teach you and move on, but savor the good.

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I like your perspective too- that love and forgiveness is more important. Which reminds me of a story…I did a study-abroad program in college that allowed me to study peace and conflict resolution in Derry, Northern Ireland and during one of my classes I was reflecting on those two exact words, “love and forgiveness” and how much hope they bring to areas of conflict. So I started to carve the words into my desk but I got distracted as the teacher was talking and looked down to see I had carved “Love and Forge”. …Hmm. Fail… (sorry, that was only sort of relevant!)

      And seeing as I’m actually heading west in a van right now (not to Montana or Wyoming, but the Grand Canyon), I love your story too! Thanks!

      • Carrie – so glad you’re getting your old school road trip that you were hankering for!
        Most people who know how we travel think it’s cool, but ours is just much more like mainstream travel with a twist… it’s close to free. Or it’s in business class. So, we don’t get much blowback. I can definitely relate to letting other people’s impression of me and my actions have too much of an effect on me. Something to keep working on, finding your own voice among the crowd of other people’s opinions or imagined opinions.
        On people disapproving of your miles and points hobby and full time travel lifestyle… I find that criticism often starts from a place of jealousy, in myself and others. I begin to ask why another person is doing something or being a certain way, and then if I’m honest with myself, I’m really asking why am I not doing it or why didn’t I do it. It’s hard not to take it to heart, though, especially when the criticism is coming from people you love and/or respect.

        • Jamie that is such wisdom. Thanks for that and I think you are right. If I think about the times when I’ve reacted critically, it is usually because somewhere inside I kind of fear the other person has a point.

          And then there are some people who have values that deeply contradict the values of someone else. That can happen too I think. And to some degree I can certainly respect that.

          Thanks so much for your comment!

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