The Pull of the Anchor

I haven’t written since April 8. I haven’t really lived the life of The Autonomous Traveler in the last month. I have had to do things and things have happened to me. There were unexpected car problems, repairs to my rack and pinion steering, a flat tire that led to four new tires and new brake pads.

After spending nine winters in St. Augustine, I decided to give up my rented condo and try something else next winter. Because of this, March consisted of “good byes” to a lot of great people. Then there was the packing up of my stuff to take back up north. I hate packing.

On March 21, my 92 year old ex mother-in-law, who was really a mom to me, died as a result of a car accident. A week before, I got to spend some time with her. She and my 96 year old ex father were a RV rally in Georgia. She was an extremely kind person and everyone at this yearly convention loved her. She always smiled and took a genuine interest in everyone she met. Her love for me was unconditional and she really took an interest in who I was. She frequently called me to see if I was okay and each year when I made the 1300 mile trips to and from Florida she checked in on me daily. She was a person of substance and I miss her.

When I arrive at home I had to unpack all the stuff I had just spent so much time packing. And then I had to fulfill the civilized obligation to clean my house after its long winter of being empty.

And it snowed yesterday morning. The flakes seemed almost embarrassed to be falling at the end of April and were very tiny in size. They didn’t have the power to cover the grass and they moved on to somewhere else or maybe they just gave up. It’s been a long winter

On top of everything, I’m sick. I have caught something from my youngest grandson. Just before be went to urgent care and diagnosed with viral pneumonia, I held him in my arms and read him stories. He is fine now. I’m staying put and nursing a nasty cough. Grandmothers will do anything for love.

I am feeling the pull of the anchor, something we all feel from time to time after traveling or taking a vacation away from home. Traveling is so wonderful, it is movement and experiencing new things. It is present moment joy away from everyday routine. It involves interaction with new people and for the most part, discovering the kindness of strangers. Michael Crichton in his book, Travels, talked about travel as an human equalizer in which economic status, past mistakes, education level, history etc. are unknown and we are only judged by the warmth of our smiles and our kindness to others.

I am feeling the pull of the anchor. I am back home, at my base camp and there is so much to do. There are good people here but there are others I must deal with. Some people irritate me and I know I irritate them. And then there is our country’s politics and an election is coming. We are in a state of conflict and there is horrible news everyday of people calling each other names, hurting each other and even killing.

I am feeling the pull of the anchor. Why can’t I have the life of a tranquil wanderer when I come back home? I’m tired and I have this terrible cough. Anchored here, I have time to reflect on some solutions.

12/1/2001 I took a day long class on Psychology of The Mind “Thought is neutral until we take it personally.” “What other people think of you is none of your business.”

Al Anon (My dad was an alcoholic) “Live and let live.” “One day at a time.” “Keep it simple.” “First things first.” “How important is it?” “Easy does it”. “Keep an open mind.” “Think.”

Posts of Wisdom from Facebook “Anything you can’t control is teaching you to let go.” “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening.”

Class on Mindfulness, March 2019 “Stay in the present moment.” (Studies show this practice can enhance your health and add years to your life.)

My “sickbed” reading, How to be A Stoic, Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life by Massimo Pigliucci. (A lot of simple but clear presentations about Stoicism on youtube.com) “Remain calm under pressure and avoid emotional extremes.” “We suffer not from events in our lives but our judgement about them.” Four pillars of Stoicism-Wisdom (practical knowledge), temperance (moderation), justice (fairness and the belief in shared humanity), and courage. Life is difficult but each of us is stronger than we think and we will get through it.

My memory prods me with these messages over and over and I choose to forget them. I need to practice. I need to pull up anchor.

“Bridge over Troubled Waters” by Simon and Garfunkel (1970)
“Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way”

Copyright 2019 @theautonomoustraveler

India-The Hindu Salutation of the Dawn

I am a gatherer, not a hunter. I wander and obtain things randomly. This trait may have been influenced by ancient ancestral memories. I first realized the roots of this when I read Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Aurel. I loved that book because of its informative portrayal of life in caveman days. Back then, primitive males seemed to be focused on the hunt and ultimately stalking and bringing down animals for food. The main character in the book was a prehistoric woman named Ayla who became an observant gatherer and a skillful medicine woman. She was a part of early human culture in which the women of the tribe collected things in their wanderings; berries, feathers for ornamentation, plant fibers for binding, herbs for flavoring and healing, and any found objects that through ingenuity and inventiveness could be put to good use.

Modern shopping may have been influenced by these prehistoric habits. Some people decide on a specific goal and go to the mall just for that one thing (example, a craftsmans saw at Sears). And then there is another group who chooses to wander through shops and stores to see what will show up.

I am in the second group. Wandering, with no set outcome in mind, not only sets the pace and scope of my traveling adventures but also dictates how I acquire things.

I love thrift stores. My short term ancestral memory draws me to them. My parents lived through The Great Depression. In my family, the stretching of dollars was practiced with great enthusiasm. This has become my life approach and causes me to direct funds toward what I really I want, namely traveling. I also love the triumphant feeling of out smarting big corporations when I find an almost new designer blouse for a mere $3.99.

Like Ayla, the attentive and cunning cavewoman, I’m a gathering huntress focused on the moment, confident in my ability to find treasures.

Yesterday, I had a particularly rewarding day. I decided to stop at a thrift store I fondly call “Sal’s”. I came up with this name in my early years of thrift store gathering when I was embarrassed to admit shopping there.

Friend:”I love your blouse. Where did you get it?”

Me: “Sal’s Boutique!” And then I’d quickly change the subject.

Yesterday, I walked into “Sal’s”, a big, bright place filled with color. It smells a particular way, a bit like old things with a faint scent of baby powder. I love the place because I know there is always a good chance I will find something both unexpected and cool.

I first scanned the jewelry case. I have learned to ask the clerk to put things aside for me until I can checkout. I have seen too many male customers carefully examining the pieces and quickly taking away the good stuff. I suspect they are undercover antique dealers.

I passed the long line of purses on the front wall. I have both bought and recycled many there. I pass the shoe racks and the hats ( I feel my nose is too big for a hat!).

And then I move on to the side wall that stretches way, way to the back of the store. Its shelves hold all sort of things grouped by color; mugs, vases, notebooks, candles, frames, etc. etc. etc. I have always loved the blue section where I have been lucky enough to find lovely pieces of Polish pottery.

The book section, because of online shopping and digital reading, is now the only “book store” in town.

I decided not to look at clothes. Real finds take time and involve going through the rack one item at a time. I was content to do the back wall with its electronic gadgets and lamps, miscellaneous stuff sorted into zip lock bags, and piles of framed pictures and prints.

Something caught my eye, a framed picture with some kind of writing on it. It was a Hindu prayer! Here I was back home in the US at a thrift store 7000 miles from India and I find this mystical piece. It spoke to me of what I had learned in India, to live in the present moment. It confirmed what I now believed, that I must squeeze the life out of everyday with no expectations or fear. And it reminded me to be thankful for all that comes my way, planned or unplanned.

I carried my lovely new treasure to the front of the store and paid for it. I hung it in my bedroom by the eastern window where the new sun always greets me. I will say the prayer every morning and soon I’ll know it by heart. Why did I acquire this beautiful bit of India? Coincidence or blessing? I have always preferred to believe in the latter.