When I was a kid I wanted to travel all around the world just visiting places, seeing life lived was the only life to live. I still would like to live for a very long time, just so I won’t miss anything. But that is impossible. When I grew older, I realized that traveling forever was impossible, too. I wanted to hunt rubies in the Ganges River, and live at a Buddhist temple, study each painting in the Louvre, hike across Kilimanjaro, steal food in Morocco, learn calculus in Berlin, and play soccer in Rio de Janeiro. I wanted, I think, to live as much as possible, and the only way was to live not only my own life, but a monk’s life, an artist’s life, a scientist’s life, and a street urchin’s life.
But when I grew older, I realized that traveling forever was not my life. I don’t have the resources of Larry Darrell, the riches to find enlightenment while free of the insecurities of destitution: Without a job, where and how will I sleep, eat, live? What will I do, alone in a strange country. I’m not Bruce Wayne, either. I can’t gently touch the life of crime, careful never to actually steal from someone other than myself, and throw myself into prison touting angst and the absence of a parental hand. Both Bruce Wayne and Larry Darrell can make a withdrawal if they ever get into trouble, and fall into a safety net made of cash.
That is trite of me.
I must learn to travel while standing still, perhaps. I must learn to savor each and every day, and reach enlightenment while working nine-to-five. The stapler and the keyboard are worlds enough, and time. Aristotle himself said that the common folk didn’t have time to lead a good life, but I’ll find it. Maybe it’s in my cigarette break, or in the microwave’s countdown. Three, two, one, I have it, the answer to everything. I know now what I must do- the winged chariot at my back doesn’t frighten me! I can travel the world freely in my mind!
This is what I used to say to myself when I was upset that my life wasn’t going to plan, and that I wasn’t traveling the world. I did not, however, find enlightenment in the stapler, in all seriousness. In fact, retaining simple lessons from experiences still eludes me. It is all confusing. Now I think about traveling, and I think I wouldn’t be living any life but the mute observer’s, unable to really connect with what I was seeing in others. Bruce Wayne’s wisdom is comic-book madness, I am forced to conclude, and Larry Darrell is fiction from Somerset Maugham. I think if I was a traveler I would be seeking enlightenment not in staplers, but in train tickets and tiny soap bars.
This is possibly cynical, as it implies that enlightenment or even eudaimonic happiness or what have you is equally hard for the rich and the poor. Possibly it is but wishful thinking, against Aristotle’s theory that the good life was only accessible by the rich. Now, I am forced by my need for some light at the end of the tunnel, to conclude that there is a problem with the system in America that makes the pursuit of happiness unduly hard for the average American. Whether it be some dark thing within our culture or the mistakes of all-too-human lawmakers, there needs to be a thing in between me and happiness, dammit. I seem to need a reason as to why I can’t be reasonably happy, and you know what, why can’t there be a reason? That would give me a problem to solve, and regardless, I think I would be happiest trying to solve it, even if it is impossible, like making myself live for a very long time.