A Case for Traveling Slowly

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A few nights ago I was careening down a lonely two lane highway somewhere in Nebraska on my way to North Dakota.

It was late at night. Sometime after 10, I believe.

I had been driving for hours.

I’m not sure if this happens to you, but once I surpass a couple hundred miles of the poetic monotony of gliding on asphalt, I somehow devolve into a state of half consciousness. Entranced by the nothingness that comes from the open road of nomadic adventure, I mindlessly navigate The Pegasus while deep in thought oscillating between upcoming projects and travel logistics and writing ideas.

I think. I dream. I worry and I plan.

I was thinking about the Kickstarter project we just completed and all of the thank you’s I need to send and all of the posters I need to design and all of the books I need to print and deliveries I need to coordinate. I was fretting about the two week delay of the first print edition of Misfit Quarterly, while appraising ideas for the design of the spring edition. I was worrying about the conference we’re producing in Fargo, and the balance between hosting something remarkable and not going bankrupt. I was reflecting on the self-publishing guide I’m working on and the WordPress Themes I’m designing and the art project I want to launch and the windmill in Kenya I want to raise money for and the web application we quietly launched a couple weeks ago.

And then Melissa turns to me and says, “stop the car right now.”

As if awakened from the deepest of sleep, I panic and bark, “What’s wrong?! Is everything okay? Are you okay?!”

She looks at me with the gentleness and grace that only the deepest love affords, and says, “Everything is fine. Stop the car.”

I pull off to the side of the road.

She reaches forward, flicks through her iPhone connected to the stereo system and starts playing Etta James’, “At Last” (a tune that as far as I’m concerned could mollify a wild beast into a sincere submission), grabs my hand, walks me outside and holds my head up.

A blanket of stars.

I hadn’t seen a sky so clear since I left the shores of Lake Malawi last June.

We spent the next 8 minutes and 36 seconds dancing under a velvet sky and a pale moonlight and stars kind enough to dance for us.

And I remembered why we chose to begin an adventure to travel the world slowly.

___

Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road is a tale of a father attempting to navigate and survive a post-apocalyptic world while hoping his son can retain a shred of youthful innocence. After days of foraging for food and scraps amongst the tainted trappings of a world pillaged by greed and evil, they stumble across a vending machine with one last can of Coca Cola.

Go ahead, the father said. 

The boy took the can. It’s bubbly, he said.

Go ahead.

He looked at his father and then tilted the can and drank. He sat there thinking about it. It’s really good, he said. 

Yes, it is. 

You have some, Papa. 

No, I want you to drink it…

You drink it, the father said. Let’s just sit here. 

It’s because I won’t ever get to drink another one, isn’t it?

Ever’s a long time.

___

Absolutely. Go out and make your art, start  your projects, write your heart out, sing your songs, produce your film, make some noise … and do it, like the world itself depends on it.

But.

Don’t ever stay inside when the stars are kind enough to dance for you.

Be present, friends.

The one truth that we know for certain is this. We have this one life. So enjoy every last ounce that you are blessed with.

From Fargo
Your Fellow Misfit,

AJ

Written from: Fargo, North Dakota
Image: Look Up

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