WEIRD MOMENTS OF FAME
I am not a Stage Left kind of guy. I avoid the limelight, a strange thing for a person so busy on YouTube to say, but it’s true. I try not to put my face on our videos very often, concentrating, instead, on Bev, the dogs, the scenery, and Puddle Walker.
Having said that as a prologue, I submit to you three very weird moments which happened today, March 2, 2023.
It’s about a ten mile drive from our campground to the place where the PCT actually begins. The last few mornings we have been making that drive to talk to hikers who are preparing for their start date, and we did the same thing today.
I parked the bus, we gathered up the dogs, we started walking to the area where a few hikers were standing around, and as we almost were abreast of this guy, mid-sixties, standing by himself, he looks at me and says “Good Morning, Mr. Holland.’ Literally stopped me in my tracks. We are 1500 miles from home, we know no one in Campo, California, and this complete stranger calls me by name.
The power of YouTube. He laughed, said he had been following our video, wanted to say hi if he saw me . . . and then . . . another guy, about the same age, came over to us and said the same thing, shook our hands, said he was enjoying the videos.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. It’s one thing to make videos; it’s sort of a detached exercise in communication. You send them out on the web, and you hope someone gets something of value from them, but you never, ever, or at least I never, expected anyone to actually recognize me in person.
But that wasn’t all.
We met a woman and her husband tonight in the campground. They have been parked about 100 feet from us for the last couple of days. Anyway, when Bev and I were arriving that first night at the campground, this woman looked out her RV window, saw us in Puddle Walker, turned to her husband and said “I know that bus. That’s Puddle Walker!
I swear to God, I’m not making any of this up. It turns out she is hiking the PCT too, had seen our videos, and knew our bus immediately when it pulled in.
I think my cover of anonymity has been blown!
It brings up an interesting philosophical discussion, me thinks.
I am an introvert. I shy away from the limelight, always have. I am completely miserable in a group of people, make hasty exits as soon as possible, and have no desire to be famous in any way, shape, or form.
But . . .
The recognition today was nice to receive. It made me feel good, the warms and fuzzies flowing through me, and I find that interesting.
Take my example, multiply it times 7.6 billion, because I suspect we all want . . . we all crave . . . to be noticed, to be seen, to know that our existence was actually more than an evolutionary blip on the grand timeline of life. And I don’t think that flies in the face of being an introvert, or being shy, or any other term you want to attach to the socially awkward in this world. I think man is inherently a pack animal, and it is part of our DNA to want to be a part of a pack, any pack, because the alternative, to be completely alone, is simply too frightening to consider.
I know the thought of complete aloneness is something I would prefer to never face. I don’t think I’m strong enough to win that battle.
And so, I suspect, this little foray into YouTube is about more than Bev’s hike, or our RV lifestyle. I suspect, even though I could not have vocalized it a year ago, it is my attempt to be a part of a pack, to have someone look at me, occasionally, and say “he’s one of ours.”
I MET A GUY YESTERDAY
Not a terribly exciting declaration, but you’ll see why I mentioned it in a few moments.
Let’s call this guy Tom, not his real name, and not terribly important for this story to be meaningful.
Tom lives in a bus, one of those big school buses, probably thirty feet long, as long as any of those huge RV’s you see chugging on down the road, and he’s got it decked out pretty well with solar, a shower, all the gadgets one could want, a pretty nice rig, painted blue, decals and stickers galore.
He’s parked at the KOA we are at in Campo; blew an engine, he said, had to wait three weeks for a replacement, will be back on the road in another week.
I’m guessing Tom is about mid-sixties. Hard to say for sure, grizzled as he is, the unshaven are harder to nail down with regards to age. Anyway, nice guy, funny guy, a guy who you would enjoy meeting, playful, a bit sarcastic, ready to share tips about life on the road, and Bev and I instantly liked him.
Anyway, he gave us a tour of his bus, had us laughing often, and then he visited us several times today while we were working on renovations to my bus, and he had us laughing again.
At some point during one of those conversations he said something, really just a cast-off sentence among hundreds of sentences, and the sentence was something to the effect that he had a noose stored in one of his drawers in case he ever met Biden. Now, I doubt seriously if he has a noose, but if he does, I also doubt that he is serious on his voiced threat, but it certainly got me thinking, and that thinking led to this chapter of The Journey.
I made myself a promise when I departed on this journey, and that promise was that I wouldn’t be drawn into discussions, or arguments, about politics, religion, or any of the other hot-button topics running so rampant throughout our society. I simply want to meet people, to strip away the bullshit and just meet people, and it is because of that promise that I chose to ignore his castoff statement and just enjoy Tom for who he is, a seemingly nice guy, a helpful guy, a guy who will make you laugh and provide a few moments of enjoyment on a Friday afternoon.
Are his politics, in any way, important to my tranquility? Not if I choose to ignore them. He and I have enjoyed each other’s company despite our political differences, and the reason for that is because I have chosen to concentrate on the person and not the hype.
It’s an important step for me, quite frankly. I did not take the bait, and I feel good about that.
Still, and I say this in a completely serious manner, what was the point of him saying that, or of anyone saying something like that? It was completely unconnected to anything we were talking about, just a random sentence which had nothing to do with the conversation at that moment. It would be like me talking to a friend about the Mariners’ baseball team, and then tossing in a comment about abortion.
I simply don’t understand why people feel the need to interject hot-button topics into an otherwise mundane conversation.
But, then, there are a lot of things about this world, and about life, I don’t understand. And that’s okay, I guess. I was never declared, by any superior being, to be the keeper of life’s secrets. I must search for answers just like every other working stiff.
AN UPDATE ON MY PSYCHE
I am at peace, or as close to a peaceful state of mind as I’ve been in many, many years.
I love being on the road. I love not knowing what is going to happen tomorrow. I love not having a routine, and that last “love statement” blows my mind, for I have been a creature of routine since I sobered up sixteen years ago. It was, in fact, the unknown factor which had me the most concerned when we left on this sojourn. How would I handle not having a routine? Would I have to establish a routine as quickly as possible to remain at peace?
It turns out that no, I don’t have to do that, not at all, and I am completely fine.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things I must do. I still have customers who pay me for content writing, but I find myself doing that work at various times during the week instead of a set schedule, as I’ve done for fourteen years. Now, if Bev and I want to walk the dogs, or run into town, or whatever, we go do it, and I do the writing when I can find the time to do it. And, of course, there are chores associated with living on the road, the cleaning and small repairs and shopping, but they don’t seem like chores to me, but rather new experiences which are part of this grand experience.
Seriously, about the only aggravation I have had, in the almost one month since we left, is the on-again-off-again spotty internet connections, but I am trying very hard to lower my expectations and simply do what I can do when I can do it. There is nothing I can do about the internet; I do not have those kinds of superpower, and my last name is not Musk. So, I accept that fact, and move forward one step at a time.
I am at peace! What a wonderful thing to write here.