Worried your urge to travel is just an excuse to run away?
Before my yearlong hitchhiking adventure, I sure was.
I was worried about being selfish, irresponsible, or cowardly for avoiding issues in my life. One of our Posse members recently asked a question that summed up my doubts and others I have heard in emails.
“How did you know you were being drawn to adventure and not just running away from growing up?”
Answer: You have to keep your eyes open for “fairies.”
If you see fairies, then you are on the right track.
If you don’t, and are just met with obstacle after obstacle, then you are running away (although in another post, I will expand and define when you need to “run away” and when you need to stay… some people would be better running).
Anyways, maybe you have felt powerful forces around us, sort of like fairies, as I have, or maybe the idea of a “MacDaddy Travel Fairy” sounds ludicrous to you. Either way, I know I have one and his presence gave me inspiration, confidence, and a practical tool to help me create the adventure of my lifetime.
My MacDaddy Travel Fairy’s name is Jason, he owns a laser, and he may have saved my life.
Here’s a quick story about how we met… and a few simple tips for acknowledging your MacDaddy Travel Fairy, so you can create meaningful and safe travels.
***And when you finish reading, please take a minute and type a sentence or so of your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!
Possibility is a tasty breakfast…
June 13, 2009
An onramp near Richmond, Virginia
It was a thick steamy summer day.
Richmond is a fat city. Sprawling, traffic-y, and wide. You could spend days walking across her, especially if you had to find an onramp suitable for hitchhiking. And that is how I had spent my time yesterday afternoon and most of the morning.
I was soaked with sweat. But I had made it to one of the western most onramps and only had 60 miles of highway between myself and Charlottesville… my destination for the day.
The Look3: Festival of the Photograph was in full swing there and I was excited to see James Nachtwey’s work. And looking back, it was one of those days that you can almost tell something meaningful is going to happen.
Possibility was in the air and it was tasty.
I didn’t need to wait long, before a car pulled over.
Still new to hitchhiking…
This was just a practice trip. It was my fifth hitchhiking trip ever and I’d only logged a few hundred miles so far. I was trying to figure out what supplies I would need and to boost my confidence.
This would be my last trip, before I left for my adventure. In less than a month, I would leave my home in Farmville to hitchhike around the USA for a year. And I vowed to spend no money on transportation or lodging.
I was going to test the “goodness of people,” and have the adventure I had dreamed of, since I had read On the Road. But I had my doubts about how it would go… or if I was doing the right thing.
And my active imagination kept dreaming up horrible scenarios.
I was always waiting for the driver to transform into a Crazy Psychopath Horny Redneck…
Who would rape and torture me, like the movies about hitchhikers suggest. Horrific, I know, but that is where my brain would go sometimes, especially at night, when darkness came.
My brain would flip from extreme excitement to extreme fear. And I didn’t believe yet that MY DREAMS could come true. “I am just a Normal Guy,” I thought.
His name was (and still is) Jason.
And unlike most of the people that picked me up, (older working class dudes driving pick up trucks)… Jason and I had a lot in common. As we drove, I learned he was a photographer, filmmaker, designer, artist, and had his own interesting online project going.
Plus, he is a classic romantic. And he was on his own adventure to a nearby high school to deliver fresh macaroons to his French teaching girlfriend. So we shared the Electric Energy an adventure will jack you up with.
And maybe this sharing of energy is the reason, Jason offered to drive me the rest of the way to the festival (2 hours out of his way). Although he seems like the sort of dude that would do that for most anyone.
Boom, right? This is the sort of experience an adventurous traveler lives for.
And it was going to get better.
Jason was also a Mac Fan Dude.
And his phat iPhone 2G was sitting on the console between us, as we roared down the highway. At the time, I had been considering buying one myself, although it was against my beliefs at the time. I had been going without a phone for a few months now and enjoying it.
But I figured it may be helpful for my trip, so I quizzed him about his.
Remember: This was back in 2009, so the iPhone was like a sexy, forbidden mysterious to me. Plus, I had been almost living in the woods for the past 6 years, and I still thought of myself as a pure Wilderness Dude.
Technology and the wilderness don’t jive, right?
I wanted to know more, but didn’t want to seem like I wanted to know more. In fact, I kinda felt like I was a 21-year old, Christianity Believing Virgin again, asking my buddy who had “done it” what it was like.
Then Jason gets all crazy on me.
In a good way though, he asked me if I wanted his iPhone. He was buying the new iPhone 3G about to drop and was considering giving his old phone away. And for some reasons (fairies?) he was thinking of giving it me who he had just spent 38 minutes with.
Of course I said… ”Fuck yeah.” And sure enough a month or so later, an iPhone arrived in the mail. He included the original box and directions too.
Boom. Dang. Blown. What?!
It was even more striking, because I had been dabbling with setting intentions. Instead of buying a lot of gear, I had set the intention that gear will “come to me.” So if I wanted something, I wouldn’t rush out and buy it, I would just ask for it in my head, and then visualize it coming my way.
And sometimes it had worked. I had already been given a Camelbak and a camp stove from a ex-military polyamorous woman.
“Was this whole “The Universe will take care of you” thing actually true?” – Young Benjamin wondered…
And that phone may have saved my life…
Although we will never know for sure, but I used that tool in countless situations to make quick, high-pressure decisions.
Picture you are…
Zooming down the highway in rural Mississippi. Green farms and forests blur past. But the highway is splitting up ahead and I am heading south to New Orleans, while my driver is heading west towards Austin. And in just a few minutes, I need to decide if I want him to drop me off:
- On the highway, which is illegal, and I’d have to walk to the next onramp, while risking being stopped by the police.
- On the exit before the split, although most of these exits have nothing at them. No gas station, no town, no restaurants… so I could be stuck for awhile.
- On the exit after the split. If there was a gas station, the driver had agreed to go a little out of his way to help in my journey.
Or maybe you were just dropped off outside of Baton Rouge…
You want to go in and explore the city, but you need to setup a Couchsurfing host first. Well, you can type in 20 requests or so as you camp outside of town. Then, the next day be able to head in and explore with a smart college dude.
Or what if you got stuck in an industrial part of Charleston, West Virginia at night…
Cars are whizzing past and there is hardly any room for you to stand safely. The odds of getting a ride are low and a thunderstorm is quickly approaching. So you need to find shelter or a place to set up your tent, and with that iPhone you can find the closest place.
Anyways, to say it was helpful was an understatement.
That iPhone was a life saver.
“Yeah, but just because he is nice, doesn’t make him a Fairy!” – You Who Is Not Convinced
- “Maybe he is just a super nice guy and bored of holding old ladies hands as they cross the street.”
- “Maybe he is a trust fund kid and has a fetish for wiping his completely Un-Fairy Bum with iPhones, then giving them to suckers like you.”
- “Maybe he is a con man, and he is pulling a really, really long con on you. He implanted a tracking device in the phone and he is recording all of your information.”
- “Maybe you just got lucky, Benjamin… and that is all.”
“I don’t buy it,” says the reader who is completely unconvinced.
And in a way, this smart and skeptical reader is as “right” as I am. So should you believe in Fairies and other forces helping you? Or should you be more rational and even skeptical of these sorts of events?
Do what feels right to you.
If being rational is what fills you with brimming confidence and helps you direct your travels and life. Then do that.
If believing in fairies is what help you on your journey. Then do that.
This post is already getting so darn long, that I’d like to get into the work of Joseph Campbell and share his research into the Hero’s Journey. But alas, let’s do that another time.
“Keep your eyes open… and believe what you see and feel.” – Click to tweet
Your Travel Fairy probably won’t give you an iPhone though…
Your Fairy will probably be more subtle that this, which is why I am writing this post. I want you to keep your eyes open for her. And when she comes… believe what she teaches.
She could just be a couple teenager girls offering you a hamburger, on a day you have never felt lonelier. Or a place to crash, when the temperature might drop below. Or even just a smile from a stranger, when you are doubting your mission.
Whatever person, place, or thing comes to greet you at the start of your adventure, accept it.
Just like Luke Skywalker, was urged on by Obi-wan Kenobi to “use the force.”
Or how Santiago, the stubborn shepherd of The Alchemist, was given two stones by a mysterious king. Later in the tale, these stones would help him stay on track in search of his Legend.
Tips for noticing your MacDaddy Travel Fairy…
Now keeping your eyes open for guides, signs, and helpful things here are a few tips to help you see:
- Keep a journal: Even a few words at night will help you look at your life.
- Read The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
- Look to your past and see how you already have been helped by “fairies.”
Have you met your own “Fairy?” Or have you met someone or noticed “signs” that help you on your adventure?
Please share in the comments. Even if you only have a few words, each of your voice is important to our community.
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