Biggie was right: it was all a dream.
I think about how driving only 30 miles per hour, on a 49cc moped, throughout the West, shifted my entire perspective of travel, of life.
On desolate roads and on shoulders of highways, I found a rediscovered piece of myself: I became intimate with details I had overlooked on a daily basis. I had eyes and curiosity of a child’s: viewing life as if it were new, interesting and vivid.
It became a joy of heading to my next destination but getting lost in every moment and being exposed to the natural elements.
After driving 6 to 8 hours a day, I would forget about my body and my mind would drift and zone out and not focus on anything in particular.
I believe if there was an answer to time travel, that would be it: to empty the mind and allow every detail of the present to flood every crevice. And when you arrive somewhere, it truly becomes difficult to recall how you got there because the brain was attuned to the present moments, not the expectations of the what you were predicting you would encounter.
I truly believe that in flux is where you find your greatest peace.
And even though it felt, looking back on it, as if I had been desperately searching for connections, stories, and vantage points of why we’re here and what we’re doing.
Those moments were still.
Even though I was moving.
I wouldn’t trade those 120 days I spent on road for anything.
During and upon the closing of the journey, a lot of people asked about my experience.
I could never put it in to words because I knew that trying to describe my experience was equivalent to examining a tree. I became saddened that the tree was all they would see and they would miss the juicy parts, the roots. They would never know what it felt like, firsthand, of coming over a mountain pass and smelling the thick, rainy, lavender concentrated air, with cool notes of tall sweetgrass and the sight of a dewey Colorado meadow with mountains shooting up behind the mist. And if they experienced something like that, it was not my precise moment because that moment could never be duplicated with all the variables that made it mine.
I became anxious and felt the pressure to capture every moment, to cage it, to label it.
And somewhere along the way, I stopped.
I look back and the moments that I managed to capture, through our technical advances, stand out to me much more vividly. I hold regret for not filming every moment.
If I could do things differently, I would have set a schedule to upload and process and organize the files. I would have been more cautious around the individual who stole my computer, phone, ID and credit cards. I would have gone about this experience in a different way – with an objective, a plan and a way to market it appropriately.
But I didn’t. I just went.
I wonder to myself, now, when I am going through life with this routine filled with schedules, deadlines, agendas and expectations of why those moments were so different.
Some would think it was carefree, immature and maybe potentially irresponsible to just leave and sell my things and throw the script away: what was I running from or running towards? Is running sustainable when change is inevitable? And did the running start becoming a routine? And after spending 6 months without an income, was it worth it?
There is a lot more to it. I truly do not believe we were willed into existence, by God, Allah, the universe, the big bang (however you believe we got here) to center our lives where we are so dictated by the thing we take from the earth: trees to produce paper to produce money. Yet, by me sharing my experiences, through any medium: writing, photography, film; it all requires money. And so it feels so hypocritical to impose my feelings on the matter. I contemplate how bizarre it is to get our messages, our feelings, our missions across with these mediums that we pay such a pretty penny for. And for what? We sacrifice for our values for convenience. Are we all not sellouts? I don’t have the answers.
All I know is that I was searching for authenticity. I was searching for people to be who they were, without thinking of how they would be perceived or what they should say. But just said whatever they thought because it felt good, and they believed it, at that moment. As a person. Traveling through time and space.
If you asked me: what prompted me. It could stem from a slew of reasons. This yearning to find my place, this constant search of identity and community. I could also tell you I became bored with the predictability and monotony of the life I was living.
When I think about people who spend their whole lives mastering something and asking myself if I do the same. I don’t really think I do. But maybe in that time, I was mastering, or trying to, the efforts of searching, questioning, and discovering. And somehow, I believe, we loose that along some path of feeling like “We have it all figured out” throughout adulthood. And that we should do something because it’s safe and that’s how we’ve been told it has to be done. Don’t get me wrong, there were times that I asked myself, “What am I doing? What was it for?” I had no idea. But somehow, when I got back on my moped, it didn’t seem to matter. And maybe that’s the trick of everything. When we’re moving. And moving with intention. And not just because we have to: we move to our job, day after day, same route, same traffic, same lights, same lunch, same food, same tv sitcom. No wonder we have to take vacations, we’re stressed and the distraction industry has boomed. But when you’re going somewhere new, it as if your brain starts expanding, and you start to notice those things you used to distract yourself from.
Creativity does not blossom under boredom and stress.
So, I took some time to spend with myself, with others and told myself that I would take a year to reflect on it. When I returned, I felt this unsurmountable pressure of producing something, making it beautiful, putting a bow on it, wrapping it for the masses, and getting it to where it needed it to go and grow on its own. It made me feel like I birthed a child. Which leads me down a huge rabbit hole of what it means to be a woman, and what it means in this society. What it means to have children in the first place. I was expecting what I wanted this thing to be, instead of letting it grow organically. And I look around and all these parents have these agendas, these expectations, these pressures of schools, colleges, and jobs and what they want for their child because it’s all for the best. The lifestyles they want. And what is that all for? And where does prejudice and greed come from? An opposing opinion? It’s no wonder. We think we know best and we project it on people we love to protect them. Our intentions are good, our trust is lacking.
In terms of having a child, I don’t want to live vicariously through someone else. And now I see other people do: it would be so much easier to live through others, to blame the man, the system, start resenting the ones we love. I keep witnessing this power struggle that exists through family, through society, through generations, cultures, religions and economic status. What is it all for?
What happened to the beauty of witnessing without having an opinion? This generation has been told to have an opinion about everything: stay true to yourself, be you bravely, #besomebody, be unique. And what if all those things are causing us to become our greatest demise. From my experience, the moment that I thought I knew who I was, I was wrong. The moment I let go of who I am, knowing that in the next day, I may feel differently, was the moment I could breathe again. Who are you? You are a compilation of your experiences, your biology, psychology, your genealogy, sociology. And what are those things?
Are those you?
I have no idea. All I know is that it feels good to not predict, to not have a script, it feels good to be loved, to be trusted, to be appreciated, to be acknowledged, to not be judged: “You’re doing it all for the wrong reasons, you’re selling out, you think too much, you feel too much, you don’t think enough, you don’t feel enough.” Where did the too much come from? Where did the not enough come from? When is enough enough.
I will never know.