I am not who I thought I was. This is no one’s fault. I have been blaming it on my parents and on society, but it’s just the lifelong learning process of self-discovery. I wasn’t ready to know myself when I was young.
Perhaps other parents would have made a difference and helped me to know myself better much earlier in my life, but I am happy with what my parents gave me (love, care, travel, encouragement, education).
Now I am stripping away the layers, and I realize that even how I SEE the world is not my own creation, it’s not my way of seeing. So, slowly, I am starting to see through new eyes.
As a child I was taught that I HAD to “see” in a certain way. There were deadlines for this and threats: “If you don’t ______, you won’t ______.” So I learned to see THEIR way (“them” being simply “others” or The Majority). It’s just mob behavior. And in conformity lies madness.
Favorite Couchsurfing host is/does these things for me:
~~They care about me (as a surfer/as an individual).
~~They give me love
~~and personal contact.
~~They are people I can really talk to.
~~They are not afraid to show their feelings
~~or to listen to my feelings.
~~They are smart and original and have really thought about life.
~~They are “authentic,” in the Jungian sense of fearlessly BEING WHO THEY REALLY ARE (they are not fake, “plastic” replicas of people).
~~Little intimacies (because my life is very empty of these).
Life can get lonely and empty out there on the road. We rely on our hosts and people we meet on the road to fill us up with their love. We have lots to give back.
Today I am hitching the two hours south to meet Meg Kelley in Anchorage.
I got a good ride into downtown Anchorage, and now I’m here at Meg and John’s apartment in Anchorage. They are just extremely sweet and precious (in a good way) people. Really really nice. Good people.
Couchsurfing has opened up a new world to me and a large part of that is being exposed (for a day or two or three) to very kind, generous people. I have been altered by this experience; I am becoming a better person myself thanks to my incredible hosts. Even the Just-OK hosts teach me lessons about life and being a good person.
I am definitely on the southern end of this trip to the Far North. Anchorage is a regular city, much like Seattle or Portland, but with a lot less going for it in terms of culture. Nevertheless, I am delighted to be back here. It’s a unique, charming city in so many ways. Many Natives live in Anchorage, too, which I love.
From this point I can look back on this trip through the Yukon and Alaska’s far north. I was in many places where life is hard: the bitterly cold winters and the biting flies make the north country sparsely populated in most areas. People have to work very hard and be real creative and resourceful just to survive in those places.
Alaska overall is a conservative, rather traditional state. Education is often poor in the state, and, as a young woman told me, girls up here still get married right out of high school and start having babies.
Was reading Getting Mother’s Body, and Suzan-Lori Parks writes about people’s Holes. Everyone has a hole somewhere in themselves, she says, and some have holes in their hearts. They need company and kindness. That’s me.
I am aware tonight of a few things–
First, I realize that these sedentary people have absolutely no concept of any way of life beyond their own.To them, sedentary life is the one and only way to live, the ultimate way to live.
Further, they think they are doing us a huge favor by inviting us (as Couchsurfers) into their homes. To us, we know we are doing them the favor by coming to their little boxes. We sharing our wonderful and unique way of life with them. Unfortunately, very few of these people get it; we are like weird, awkward, horrible things to them.
The little box I’m staying in now is in the city of Anchorage, near the main airport. There are no birds around, no wildlife of any kind. It’s a dead zone with planes flying overhead frequently. It’s a sterile, empty wasteland here, both inside the apartment and outside. These poor people think they have a wonderful thing here; to me, it’s like a jail. It’s like someplace that exists in an alternate universe.
And these people spend 75% of their time working at slave-jobs to pay for this miserable place and for the cars they “need” to get them back and forth, to and from their jobs. It’s like an insane asylum. And most sedentary people live this way.
It’s particularly obvious that this life here in the city is freaking crazy because I’ve just spent a month and a half (or so) in wilderness areas where the birds are loud and the bears and caribou and moose were all around me. Here… nothing.
Out in the wild parts of the Yukon and Alaska, people never lock their doors. Here, in Anchorage, when they go out, they lock their doors because other slaves might break in and steal their junk.
I understand something else tonight: that my life is lived very much online. If I couldn’t use a computer for a month, my life would be very different. Perhaps I would like to do that now and then; perhaps I would enjoy it. It is, after all, how I used to live (pre-internet). I accept my enslavement to the computer because it gives me scope and freedom to live the life I want. Is this how sedentaries feel? Do they accept the enslavement of their jobs because that allows them to have houses, cars, and lots of the junk they seem to crave?
I have to sometimes be forced to acknowledge this truth of my chosen dependence on computers (and planes and buses and so forth). I have to say, over and over again, “Yes, I choose this. Yes, I know I am dependent on this, and still I choose it.” I have to give myself the chance, over and over again, to renounce it. Someday, I may say, “I need/want a break from this dependence (on the computer).” Someday, I may take a break and see what life is like without my computer. Freer? Less or more appealing?
I am a Gypsy, and I always have been a Gypsy–even though I was raised in one house in one town. It took me years (from 1964 to 1974) of moving around from house to house and town to town, to understand who I am and how to live the way I wanted to.
I live a Gypsy life of TRAVELLING. Sedentary Gypsies are no longer Gypsies. They have given up the essence of being a Gypsy: constant travel.
I never wanted to own land or a house or furniture or all that junk. Having a car or a trailer/RV/house-truck… well, that’s different. That’s OK. I don’t even want or need those anymore, but I think they’re OK for Gypsies who do want them and who are on the road all the time.
These sedentary people don’t understand a life of constant travel. Watch the movie SNATCH (with Brad Pitt) about the English Gypsies. (The Boswells are famous English Gypsies.) That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what it’s about. Moving. Being there and then being gone, and they (the sedentaries) can’t find you. That’s the life I’m talking about.
I tell the sedentaries: “We’re all around you, and you just don’t know it. You don’t see us, and, when you do see us, you either don’t know who we actually are (Gypsies) or you condemn us as good-for-nothing “HOMELESS” people. The Homeless. They have no idea. They look, but they don’t see.
The MAIN, #1, best, chosen life for me is the Gypsy life. I worked my way into it slowly, since I was about 18 years old, I guess… when I first left home. Since then, I’ve never looked back. It’s been on and on, more and more, toward the travelling life.
I knew who I was, and I knew what I wanted. Because I was raised as a sedentary person, it took me years (ten years and more) to “return” to my home: the road. I had to “relearn” the way of the Gypsies. I believe that’s who I am in my soul, in my spirit, in the deepest “I.” And I just had to re-find and reclaim it.
The way I am now, the real “Me”, is so compelling and so deeply satisfying that I don’t think my man, my mate (whom I haven’t found yet) could be anything but a Gypsy. I don’t think I could be with a sedentary man again. THAT’s why all my boyfriends after my divorce were men from the street: they were (or they were like) Gypsies.
The first book I remember was The Chosen Baby, an adoption story. My favorite fairy tale is The Ugly Duckling, another adoption story. In both cases, the child was raised by foster parents.
The Chosen Baby was taken from her true life and raised by others. My adoptive parents were very good to me, and I still love them, but they were not my own. They were nothing like me, and they didn’t recognize me. (My birth parents weren’t “my own” either. I was a stranger to them, and I am a virtual stranger to my half-siblings who don’t recognize me at all for who I am.)
The Ugly Duckling was raised by parents who didn’t understand her. They saw her as flawed, and they tried to make her be like them. But she wasn’t like them at all.
The Chosen Baby and The Ugly Duckling are one and the same, though the former is presented as lucky and the latter as unlucky. The Chosen Baby was cast out and found by people who wanted her. (In reality, I was given away because my birth-mother’s society, religion, and parents would not accept me: I was “illegitimate” and a “bastard.”) The Ugly Duckling had to leave the nest and the family who wasn’t hers and who didn’t appreciate her. She had to find her own way and her own people, and she did: the swans.
It took a long time, but now I have found my real, true Self and my real life and my real family: the Gypsies. I am an American Traveller-Gypsy and proud of it.