Starting to plan the next Big Trip...Australia/New Zealand: Jan/Feb 2007.
Friend Hank in CA has been there. He warns: "Be careful about New Zealand, Mare. It suits you. You may never want to come back."
Maybe so. The world is a wide, wide place, and I have lived my life backwards. At an earlier age I nursed and lost loved ones, helped raise children not my own, fostered lost people in the attic of my home so they could figure out the next path to take. Now all that is finished, and I feel free to travel about with my life in tow. At almost 51, I have learned the deep lesson that I have nothing to lose. Here's a secret: none of us do. What we think is loss is just a swift kick in the pants to set us towards something unseen. In this black and white world, the grey of the unknown is so much more interesting.
The other evening, in Henry Miller's Stand Still Like the Hummingbird, I read about a man named George Dibbern. He was a German who, in 1930, got in a thirty-two foot boat and sailed alone to New Zealand, leaving his wife (who urged him to go) and family forever. Miller wrote:
"There is no hope for him in Germany; he is not herd-like enough to be a good Communist, or militarist enough to be a good Nazi. He has had it out with himself and he has decided he will not be a living corpse."
It took Dibbern five years to reach New Zealand. In the middle of the ocean, he threw most of the books he brought with him overboard, and relied on his own thoughts. And he started writing a book, eventually published in 1941, called Quest.
Dibbern wrote: "How much we talk about freedom, we who are so unfree, how much we talk about Christianity, when all our nations seem to cry of service to other gods! It may be in the end as it is with me. A careless remark about going to sea in my small boat finally forced me to eat my own words, or sail."
Dibbern wrote more: "When a soldier gets his marching orders he just goes, he doesn't know where, or for how long, or if he will ever come back again. Nobody ever questions it, or objects, or thinks it's queer; but if one follows one's own God, one's conscience, everybody objects - strange, how little man belongs to himself, how much he is yet the community's property."
Dibbern is a Taoist, methinks. "Pain is what ultimately brings home the lesson," he wrote. Miller concurs: "Some may think that Dibbern was unadaptable, a man unfit for human society. This is not true. If anything, it is society which is unfit to accommodate itself to a man like Dibbern. These men are far ahead of society; their tragedy is that they are condemned to wait for others to catch up."
Yet one of the most interesting statements Dibbern writes:
"One's greatest security is to be loved. Banks fail, love never," he says.
I've been told this traveling bug of mine is "running away," that it is "immature," that I should be "settled." Believe me, I have stepped up to the plate more than once, and have embraced enough maturity to last a couple of lifetimes. No more maturity in this one. You can have mine. I don't need it anymore.