Friday, September 12, 2008

the problem that has no name

In the 1960s, Betty Friedan wrote about a "problem that has no name," referring to a quiet desperation among housewives in that time. With an increasing number of modern advancements, such as electric washing machines, automobiles, televisions, Hitachi Magic Wands*, etc., at her disposal, the woman of the sixties should have little to complain about. But, Friedan argues, while the evening's stew bubbled in her shiny new crock pot, her thoughts marinated in a salty broth of dissatisfaction... of the knowledge that there must be something more to this life.

*I'm not sure that Hitachi Magic Wands existed in Friedan's time, but would that they were!

Ever since my Junior year of college, when I took my first trip outside of the US (Cuernavaca, Mexico, for a Spanish language intensive program at Cetlalic - go there!), I've felt a tugging need to see the world. Mexico opened this midwestern gal's eyes and I knew from that moment that I had to see it all. So, I've done my best to make traveling a priority in my life, hence the Vantasy.

But I've noticed that each time I manage to break away from my "normal" life to travel, I get an unwanted visit from Desperation. Most of the time, it waits in the corners of my mind, allowing me to go about my adventurous days in a mostly happy state. I might even experience elation while traveling, but the despair is always there, nudging at me, asking, "Is this it? Is this what you wanted?" And if I turn my head away from it, agreeing that, yes, this is what I want, Desperation plays it's trump card: "You're all alone. Tell me again why you're doing this."

And I have no really good answer. At least, not an answer which is good enough to make Desperation go away. Sure, I'd like to be sleeping in my bed. I'd like the luxury of a shower anytime I want one. I miss my friends. I miss having a paycheck. But these are all things of comfort, and as I've said in earlier blogs, it takes discomfort to grow. It's uncomfortable to roll into a new town and wonder where I should park. It's uncomfortable to be alone most of the day. It's uncomfortable to have diarrhea and have to RUN to the nearest bar at 10:00pm, which is a pool hall/cardroom full of staring men, just so I can sit, doubled over in pain on their questionably clean toilet and emerge from the bathroom fifteen minutes later to more stares. It's uncomfortable to look Desperation in face, and agree to take it on a road trip just so I can do a bit of growing.

Come to think of it, I think that is the answer. I'm addicted to discomfort. It makes me feel alive, challenged. A trip like this would just be a vacation if I didn't bring my friend, my "problem that has no name", along with me. I know there's something more to life, and I'm going to find it out here. Ralgh gets the backseat, Desperation gets shotgun, and I'll drive us all around, through rainstorms, over rocky roads, and into sunsets until we find what we are looking for.


Shannon said...

i'm proud of you. and even though you are alone with Deperation and Ralgh out there, please remember you are right in the middle of all our hearts, warm and cozy.

also the word verification i have to type in below is "slino." i think i am going to use that in a sentence today.

Cija said...

Hi Shannon, I don't know you, but it's clear you know Eva. I second your words.

I firmly believe that if we are true to ourselves that at any given moment we are doing exactly what we should be doing. And Eva I think in your heart of hearts you know you are doing exactly what you should be. There is plenty of time for comfort and stability, trust me on this.

Kelly McNiece said...

I could not be happier to miss our random lunch discussions to read these posts instead.

You are right where you need to be. Making life meaningless and empty, the best way possible.

Anonymous said...

Your blog entries inspire me. I often find myself wishing I was out travling still, seeing the world, dealing with new and uncomfortable situations as you are.... but then I realize. Traveling/vagabonding/wandering is a state of mind, not a physical action. I too, am going through many uncomfortable situations as you are, only mine remain in the same location. Your blog and experiences inspire me to view my life through my vagabond glasses again. Thanks. :-)

John Judy said...

Growth is a painful uncomfortable experience. It is by its nature a journey into unknown territory, fraught with moments of desperation, doubt, loneliness and other scary stuff. It's the price you pay for new experiences, wisdom, and a "wider" mind. I look bad on the few experiences I've had that were somewhat similar to what you're doing now and I remember engaging in some of the clearest thinking in my life. I go back to those moments when I need strength. I envy the cache of experience you're building right now.

When it gets bad, just remember that if you didn't do this, you'd be less than you are and you'd regret it forever.

Hang in there, it'll be worth it.

Now excuse me with I go take a warm shower and then sit on my comfy couch watching cable.

I.Sirius said...

According the one of the definitions of discomfort is 'anything that is disturbing or interferes with comfort'. also defines comfort as 'to make physically comfortable'.

What has drawn you to road? Do you find comfort in facing what brings discomfort? I think we as humans while striving for a life of order and comfort need challenges and exploration to feel, well, comfortable with your lives.

I know I do. And I am really enjoying reading about yours.

Safe travels lone camper.