Friday, January 29, 2010

Jack Kerouac Strikes Again: Manifest Destiny

Today was B-day. Booking day. It was also payday. Today was the day where I took my paycheck, bills be damned (and they are) and booked my very first international trip – the fruition of a dream that has floated in my mind for nigh on 25 years.

As long back as I can recall, I've had a thing for Ireland. I have Irish heritage, but those glorious Celtic twigs in the family tree are so choked by my grandparent's direct German and Swedish roots that I half blush when I say I'm part Irish. Uh-huh...I AM an American who claims Irish genes but haven't yet proved it. Who cares, really...as I think, and I'm not sure why, that being Irish isn't so much a bloodline as it is a state of mind.

So, ever since I was a kid, I've drawn maps of Ireland...traced and re-traced routes of fancy. In my early twenties I picked up a "How to Speak Irish" tape and book. TRIVIA POINT: I found out that my life-long problem with swallowing my L's (go on, ask me to say "Lily") is actually beneficial in pronouncing certain Irish Gaelic words. Who knew.

Even stronger, though, than my desire to go to Ireland, was my fear of trying. I've always been more of a dreamer than an actual person of action. For too long I have been proud that living life on the edge for me has consisted of finishing the New York Times Sunday Crossword in ink, sans errors. For too long I've said, "Next year I'll...." and then the doubts and fears (mostly about money) and all the excuses in the world take the power out and I sigh, sit back and say, "Ok...the NEXT year..." Oh, the plans I've made. Oh, the mental derailments that have cleaved those plans to bits even as the words pass my lips. I have so many friends that don't take my word for it when I say "LET'S DO THIS!"

Then, a couple years ago I listened to "The Secret" on iTunes. Of course I'm fully aware that many of you just threw up, perhaps profusely. However, a vital globule I gleaned from that bit of marketing genius is that my beliefs CAN and DO either limit or expand my existence. And for such a long time my beliefs have consisted of "I can't because..." whether it was going out for the swim team in high school, asking "that guy" out, or singing karaoke sober. Actually, I do believe that if I sing karaoke I will implode and I'm sure I'm not ready to die yet. Still need to get to Ireland for cripe's sake. AND race a Formula-1. AND fly in a helicopter. Aaaaaand marry Gerard Butler.

But I digress. I don't quite know when or where it happened, but sometime around New Year I remember talking to a friend and saying wouldn't it be soooooo cool to go see [a favorite band] play somewhere...to not wait til they come here, but to go to THEM...somewhere? Make a trip out of it? We both agreed that it would, indeed, be cool. The coolness of the concept was SO frickin' breezy it was like ice. I was almost overcome with the desire to snap my fingers and say "Daddy-O" all day. So we nodded at each other...coolly...and went back to our not-so-beat desks and worked, cuz that's what we're ACTUALLY paid to do.

Then awhile later, for some reason (she says with an air of irony), I was looking up tour dates for The Dropkick Murphys, one of my favorite bands (Go IRISH!) and noticed they weren't playing locally. But they WERE playing in Ireland. Ho-ho!! I connected the two concepts – my "What If..." and the DM tour date – suddenly my "What If..." kind of turned into "Why Not..." But then I fretted about the "How To". Gah.

But! I remembered the gist of The Secret: If you build it, they will come. (Does Kevin Costner get any royalties for The Secret I'm just wondering?)

As the seed of "Why Not" dug into the soil of my mind, I picked up a book called "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac. Drugs, alcohol and jazz aside, the real gone thing about that story is the get-up and GO man GO attitude. Boy, if Kerouac only knew his words would water my cranial garden 60 years after the fact. There was no "I Can't!" in Sal Paradise or Dean Moriarty! They just got up and (albeit drunkenly) DID. I'm not saying go out, get high and be irresponsible. I AM saying, it's possible to fulfill a desire or a dream without having to win the lottery first. Just go. Just do. Just do IT. I think the Nike marketing team must have read Kerouac in college.

So I set small goals for myself. First: get a passport. Der-har. Clearly, I understand the concept of first things first. I had always put that off because of "The Money" ($100 whole dollars! But I need ANOTHER pair of shoes!!). But this time I knew I'd have the money and this time I didn't spend the money elsewhere. And I got the passport. Was SO stoked when the Dept of State debit showed up on my bank balance. Woohoo!!

Next I bought a ticket for the Dropkick Murphys concert. Why, yes, I DID put the cart before the horse. And yes I am aware it is diametrically opposed to my observation above. That's how I roll.it keeps people on their toes. Thing is, I knew that was part of the secret...buy the ticket and you WILL rock in a theatre across the globe with a bunch of Irish punkers. "Act as if"!" Besides, concert tickets sell out...airline tickets are gonna be there...albeit they just get more expensive.

The biggest To Do, of course, was booking the flight and hotel. You see, all my previous plans had grandiose timelines and itineraries and quaint, ambient lodgings, an ENTIRE new wardrobe and all the gadgets one needs to travel... All of this CRAP requires more money than I could ever come up with. Once I decided to just go to a concert in Dublin, my goal was instantly simplified. I didn't need three weeks. I could happily go for 3 or 4 days. I didn't need a car! A bus and comfy shoes (not practical comfy mind you...not "I've got back problems and bought these in a specialty store for old farts comfy"....Nooooo. No. They are COOL comfy) will get me around town. I don't even need to eat in restaurants when I can get a loaf of bread, some cheese and an apple for lunch/dinner. Of course, I did buy a new raincoat (...it's so cute...you'll LOVE it in my pictures OMG OMG OMG!) because who'm I kidding. I'm ME! Clothes and shoes run in my veins. I don't have blood, I have discount shopping receipts pumping through my body. Finally, short of bunking with a bunch of shtanky 20-somethings in a hostel, I knew I only needed a bed in a generic building with no atmosphere and a ride across the pond to achieve my lifelong dream.

And, so, today, with a small window of opportunity and a direct intention of spending only a certain amount of money (cuz I only had a certain amount of money), I allowed myself the freedom of letting go of expectations and achieving only necessities. And wouldn't you know...the prices had gone up about $200 in the last two weeks, yet today I got the price I needed with 2 extra days tacked onto my trip. Can I get an "Aaaaaaay-mennnnn" brothers and sisters?

Now I have a passport, a ride and a bed, ALLLLLL paid for. *shakes like a puppy a little* The rest will be taken care of. I don't just think it, I know it.

I do have to address my original statement above about never being a doer....a person of action. As Sartre points out, making no choice, taking no action...IS making a choice, taking action. I have, until recently in my life chosen to not act much. Less than three weeks ago I chose to act DIFFERENTLY and here I am. Talk is talk and I demand action in myself and others from now on. I've set a plan in motion and there's really no "what if's" about it anymore. Only "what to do's" when I get to my Dublin.

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