Although I enjoy a good road trip from time to time, I’m not really into travel. I like home base. I like to be around my dogs, my computer, my garage fridge, my deck, my world. Some people find that odd, I guess. Almost every bucket list I see says something about “travel more,” and I think, god, I’d hate to have to do that.
Luckily, I don’t have to. It’s one of the things I love about the modern world, I don’t have to travel to explore. I am an explorer, at heart. I explore ideas and history and people and the characteristics of people, and I never get tired of any of it. At the same time I don’t really care about grand canyons, vaulting pyramids, hanging gardens, teeming redwoods, gushing geysers, or cascading waterfalls. I mean, they’re neat and all, and they have their place, but I’d never go out of my way to go see them on my own. In fact, I’m more likely to pull them up on my smartphone than trek across land, sea, and air to see them.
Because I’m not all that into trekking. I have friends who love to hike, and that’s fantastic. But when I’m asked to go for a hike my first instinct is, “do I have to?” Walking for long periods of time and carrying things around are two activities I actively avoid. I’m not adverse to exercise, mind you, I just like to do it in furious twenty-minute bursts. Or less. And I have nothing against the great outdoors, I just prefer it to stay over there while I’m over here.
My favorite style of camping has room service, an adjoining restroom, and turndown service in the morning.
Even after a few days of that, however, I’m ready to go home.
Finding this out about me sometimes dismays people. They expect, as an adventurous human being with a strong social nature, that I’d be willing to take up any expedition. Others think I’m isolating myself, learning too little when there’s a whole world out there to explore. I find, however, that travelers – by and large – don’t seem to learn too much about the world or themselves that cannot be found in close observations of every day life. They get to reach out and touch things they’ve dreamed of reaching out and touching. They get to ride a mule down to the bottom of a large gorge. All these things they’ve wanted to do. But they seem no wiser about the predisposition of human nature or the terrible plight of the aborigine than they did before their trek. Travel is rarely, from what I have seen, a journey of illumination.
There are exceptions, of course. I am a living exception to so many rules that I tend not to make statements that generalize any group with assumed predilections. In fact, I envy the itinerant one. Not because of the things they see in the world, but because of what they already understand about themselves. They understand that they love to travel, they have a bucket list, and they are living it out. That’s fantastic. I’d love to love something so much that I pursued it with such abandon.
But I don’t. As complex a man as I am, I am a simple one, too. I like being near home. I love my dogs. My wife and I enjoy simple, quiet times together. I like to explore the profundities of the world 30 paces from the coffeemaker. I prefer the depth of exploration to the breadth.
I’ve tried to create bucket lists of my own before. When I try, they mostly become a list of things I do already. Then I seem to list things I think I should do, but generally don’t care if I do. I like too many things, and love the option to choose, each day, which one has my fancy most.
So, if I have a primary objective in life, it is to fill my daily world with the things I love. Right here, within my reach. A home I enjoy. Companions I cherish. A fast computer. Coffee and beer. Amazing friends. Me, being me.
If I have those things – the simple staples of a valued life – then I can die tomorrow and feel like I have not missed a thing. My bucket is already full.
If this must end in advice, which I am not of the nature to give, then I would say: follow your own heart. Always. If travel is your want, go. If leisure is your game, relax. Love nature? Hike. If you love people, mingle. If life is a celebration, revel. The number one item on your bucket list is to find what you love most. The only other item within is “do that.”
Even if that changes, every day.
Now go welcome yourself home, wherever that may be.