The 200-Mile Hot Dog and Other Mental Afflictions
One of the things I contemplate often, especially recently, is the reasons why I commit myself to ride or drive around looking at…stuff. What’s the actual point? Why do I mark a place on a map hundreds of miles away to go and look at a sign, or a statue, or eat a donut?
Is the hot dog that is 200 miles away from home really any more tasty than the one in town, or heaven forbid, the one I could make at home? The answer is of course, yes. And, no.
File Under: It’s Not the Destination it’s the Journey
You can argue, and sometimes I do, that it is the actual journey that makes that 200-mile hot dog delicious. It is the life that is experienced in the space between your front door and the mustard that really matters. I mean, what else is there if not life experiences?
The sheer number of thoughts and ideas that are sparked by a 200-mile ride are myriad! Maybe it is on that ride that you will witness the most memorable sunrise of your life, or find the thread to finally begin writing your book, or snap your greatest photograph.
Cue deranged thoughts: If I don’t go I’ll never have another unique experience, an inspired thought, and all of my chances with the universe will dry up because I was presented with an opportunity and I’ll be punished because I didn’t take it!
Or maybe I’ll just be going through the motions and see nothing interesting at all and will be bored and kick myself because I could be comfortably sitting in my favorite chair watching Jersey Shore reruns instead of sitting in traffic.
The Curse of Magical Thinking
It is this type of magical thinking that when taken to the extreme, has pressured me with irrational feelings of FOMO. If I don’t go, I could be missing out on “x.” This fear of missing out has a steep downside that doesn’t typically get framed as such. For the most part it is observed positively with only the highlight reel in focus. What could possibly be bad about having travelled thousands of miles looking at cool stuff?!
But when gritty reality comes knocking we learn that nothing comes without a cost, the value of which only has meaning to the person who has to empty their pockets to pay it.
For me, this constant motion kept me avoidant and unable to relax. There is an all consuming ripple effect and human toll to that.
When used for good my obsessive personality has generally served me well. It’s been the butt of jokes, “ahahaha, you’re totally obsessed with…,” that even I chuckled at prior to understanding myself better. And it’s made me strive for things and helped me to achieve personal goals.
On the flip side, when my obsessions are self-destructive they implode my life. I think riding motorcycles and traveling have long served as a bandage to stop my internal bleeding. While I kept my eyes trained on consuming “positive” experiences it has been easy to ignore unhandled traumas.
Unfortunately one of the funny things about suppressed feelings that need attention is how patient they are. They don’t go away. They wait.
For years I’ve wondered whether my love of riding motorcycles is equally as rooted in escapism as it is in the actual act of riding. Perhaps the motorcycle really is the perfect vehicle for someone like me because it caters to those of us who dwell in avoidant behaviors. It’s just you in your helmet at the controls – an autonomous being.
In its most natural application, you don’t glance over and chitchat with someone sitting beside you or sip a soda as you cruise along on your motorcycle. It’s just the solitary act of doing this activity which requires you being fully present.
“You’re like a shark, if you don’t keep moving you’ll die.” This sentence uttered about me has been firmly lodged in my brain for years. It ping-pongs around in my thoughts lately because it is in stark contrast to my current reality.
My pendulum swings wide never comfortably settling in the middle. Where the weight had been stuck firmly for years on the keep moving side, things have dramatically changed.
I go through periods of wanting to go, go, go which are then offset by episodes of paranoid isolating and not leaving the house for long stretches of time. And when I’m in at-home mode, I simultaneously feel safe and that it’s what I need to be doing – and a burning self-hatred because there is a muffled voice inside of me that wants to send me screaming from the front door to just be out… there.
Needing to feel grounded, to be home, to be what I see as the opposite of curious, shines a light on what I’ve decided is my emotional weakness. Coming to terms with that weakness burns.
In some ways it is like I am at odds with the person I’d set myself up to be and existed as for decades, and the person I actually am. My reality has fallen short of my expectations. That is the earmark of failure, isn’t it?
However, when it comes to my thoughts about other people who might be going through a similar experience, I wouldn’t think of them as failures at all. I’d think they just want a different path than they’d originally thought. The measuring stick which I use for myself and the one I use for others is very different.
Maybe I should head out across 3 states for a donut and consider the matter some more.