Saturday, February 1, 2014

US50 - Phase 1: Opportunity and Fear

Nov 2011

 When does a road trip really start? I suppose there’s an argument for the ‘it starts when you turn the key and leave the driveway’ answer, – but I don’t think so. – I think some, maybe most, road trips begin long before that. (OK, I’ll concede that that may not be true if you’re under the age of 25, invincible and subject to the sudden ‘Hey! I got a great idea!’ syndrome but – well –last time I saw 25 was more than 25 years ago. . .)

For me this particular road trip started – well just how philosophical do I want to get here? – There’s a family story that my first road/camping trip occurred in a borrowed tent when I was two months old. Of course I can’t personally confirm that story, but I can confirm that I was raised in a tradition of camping and exploring this country that probably helped establish a certain propensity in me for wandering the roads. So if you wanted to take things to the extreme you could say the first bricks of this trip were laid some 57 years ago, but to keep things a little more realistic, I think of this trip as starting with an idea born of opportunity and fear in early 2011.

The opportunity is looming retirement. The fear is – well – looming retirement.

The first part, opportunity, is pretty much self-explanatory. When it comes to road trips verses work schedules, work schedules usually win, forcing some significant compromises on the road trip side of the equation. Retirement either eliminates the work schedule or makes it flexible enough that the road trip can finally win.

The second part, fear, might be a little more difficult to explain; or perhaps not. If you have faced a significant life change you might already understand the fear part. And retiring will be a significant life change for me. Even though I might be pulling the trigger a little earlier than most, I have still spent the last 40 years, 45 if you count summer jobs, working for a paycheck.

I don’t know what it’s going to be like to live without that regular income, or without the majority of my time pre-scheduled. How am I going to handle the money worries and what am I going to do with my time? I don’t know what it will be like to wake up one morning without all the responsibilities I had on my plate at work. Will that be a relief or will it be a big hole? I don’t know how to take a trip with no deadlines. Will I be able to shed the ‘got to get there and get back’ mentality of the past 40 years? I don’t know if – well – obviously there’s a lot of I-don’t-knows ahead as I move into this new phase of my life.

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