I am in Dinuba, California. This is one of the only planned stops on the route. I’ve been visiting my uncle and and my grandparents while I’ve been down here.
Everyone’s been very interested in the idea of the trip, but I think it’s hard for people to believe that I’ve got almost no destination. The most common question I get is, “Where are you headed?” and when I say, “I don’t know,” I’m generally met with confusion. It’s hard, even for me, to imagine not having an explicit itinerary because itineraries keep you focused and they outline the future clearly. I think we tend to steer our lives toward greater certainty because it represents comfort. It’s certainly more comfortable knowing where you’re going to sleep at night, knowing in what environment you’ll wake up, knowing the shortcuts and locations of places where you are.
But there’s also freedom in uncertainty, in a wandering daze, because there is no defined schedule. Oftentimes we look to the future and everything is locked into place. Our schedules keep us in order. They keep us sane and civilized. And maybe a blank future is terrifying because we don’t work well in obscurity, we don’t work well in the unknown, and I can appreciate that. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit to being at least a little bit nervous. But the notion of a near complete lack of schedules is at least a little bit relaxing. There is no concrete fear, no defined future stressor, no responsibility.
There is this great desire to abscond that’s common in many of us, and maybe it’s juvenile. Maybe it’s selfish. I’m 23 and I’ve got a college degree. I’m skirting around adulthood, but I’m hardly an adult in the traditional sense. I’m still a boy by most definitions. And maybe this is adumbrative of the never-ending adolescence of middle class youths. That we are unwilling or unable to separate ourselves from our childhood, from our reliance on our parents. And, indeed, part of this trip is to forge something for myself, to not be defined by whose house I live in anymore. There is fear there, definitely. And when I come back I still won’t have achieved the traditional markers of adulthood. I will not have a career. I will not have any more independence than when I left.
But, I don’t know, there are thousands, maybe millions of us like this, and maybe there’s no shame in that. There’s sometimes a very limited scope of what constitutes success, and we can work and worry ourselves to death and never feel as if we’ve achieved anything. And that’s maybe why I’m looking to this blank, unwritten future—wandering, finding points of interest, finding freedom.