Friday, May 13, 2011

Chugging Away From the Usual Town of Thought

After reading "Life and Adventures of A-No. 1" (1910) by Leon Livingstone, I just began to think of how exciting it would be to just ride a train across the country to some unknown destination. Livingstone left his home at age 11 (Franklin 652). I left my home at 18 to go to college, which was more of a formal/expected departure. I thought about how my life can be related to the train rides and adventures of Livingstone. The encounters with suspicious indians that want you to buy them alcohol, or riding a brakebeam on a train till the face is black, the adventure across seas to Germany on a vessel working as a coal-passer, stealing food, clothing, etc. in order to survive. Most lives don't resemble Livingstone's in experiences. But in feeling they are able to match the life of a dreaming hobo like Livingstone. That is, riding trains/living as a sovereign hobo is comparable to the seeping excitement that one feels when doing something adventurous or the incessant passion that one loves to engage in. The question is how oft we engage in experiences that make us feel like we're racing down a track at speeds that synchronize with the passionate/imaginative heart. Experiences that make you feel like you are flying through the atmostphere, experiences that catch the butterflys of your imagination in your body, experiences that make your cheeks hurt from smiling. We all need more of these moments in our lives. Experiences that chug us away from our usual town of thought. Livingstone calls the inner thirst for this adventure and exciting experiences "wanderlust": "... I landed in San Francisco. My parents were overjoyed to have me back safe and alive. As I had yet a few dollars left, and had lots of stories to relate they forgave me. For two weeks I stayed at home and enjoyed myself to the limit, then the wanderlust made me dissatisfied and restless, and, to appease my craving to roam, I took a trip to Victoria, British Columbia" (663). We all have the wanderlust iinside of us. It's that never-ending desire for adventure and excitement. That feeling that arrests the body and senses in totality. Bruce "Utah" Phillips as a fellow train rider, I would assume, has had this feeling of excitement and adventure. I don't know if he would recommend it to everyone, but I would count on him saying that we all should find this feeling of excitement and adventure and maximize it in our lives. I want to have stories to tell, and the stories that have the best plot lines are the ones that take us out of our rigorous routine, if only for a moment.
To close this post I have a poem that reminded me of the wanderlust/adventure/excitement as described by Livingstone. The following is short poem (further shortened by me) by William Wordsworth entitled "The Tables Turned" (1798):
Up! up! my friend, and clear your looks,
Why all this toil and trouble?
Up! up! my friend, and quit your books,
Or surely you'll grow double.

Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife,
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music; on my life
There's more of wisdom in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
And he is no mean preacher;
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

Sweet is the lore which nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things;
--We murder to dissect.

Enough of science and art;
Close up these barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

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