“You are so lucky!”
“People would give their right arm to do what you are doing!”
“You are a very, very lucky girl!”
These are common comments I get when I tell people about the trip that I am taking. I don’t care for these comments. “Luck” is being born white in America. “Luck” is winning the lottery. My trip has very little to do with luck (except for the first reference to luck – but many of the people who tell me I’m lucky are also native-born white Americans, so in this situation it doesn’t count). My trip is about choices that I’ve made that have gotten me to this point in my life. I could easily turn the tables and say, “You’re so lucky! You have a spouse and kids and a house and a job,” much of which I would like to have. But those are all choices and follow-thru on decisions made, it wasn’t luck.
When people attribute my trip to luck, I feel the choices I made to be where I am are minimized. It glosses over the fear, the loneliness, the “oh shit where am I going to stay tonight?” the “I’m tired and I don’t want to make one more decision but my dogs have to eat and I have go to the bathroom,” and “what the hell am I going to do when I’m done?” issues. Not to mention that I am working while I’m on this trip because I still need to earn money.
Speaking of money, “How can you afford to do this?” is a big one for people. I think the assumption is that if they only had the money they would do a trip like mine. I doubt that very much. Money is the least of my challenges. I’m not trying to hang on to my old life at the same time I’m creating a new life. It’s pretty cheap to camp and eat spaghetti-o’s. And it’s even cheaper to crash at a friend’s house (fortunately I haven’t run out of friends yet). The really hard part is the not knowing. I have given up my apartment, my friends, the life I created, the knowing what will (in general) happen from one day to the next. What I would NEVER give up for this trip is my right arm – and I hope no one else would either!
This trip for me is about making lemonade out of lemons. I don’t attribute it to being courageous at all – I just couldn’t take the disappointments and the loss anymore without trying to do something different. My cat died, my mother died, my apartment had mice and rats, my career wasn’t taking off the way I wanted it to, I had no significant other. I tried and I tried and I tried to change things and I couldn’t. I could, however, take me and my dogs on a trip to experience the country and to heal.
Sometimes, people say to me, “I’m envious,” or even, “I admire your bravery, I wish I had the courage.” Now that is honest, and it is what I think the other people are really saying. I get it. I’ve felt it before too, and still feel it more frequently than I would like. It is certainly what I meant when I have attributed somebody else’s situation to luck (unless they really did win something, in which case luck is appropriate, but I try not to use that word anymore if it isn’t pure luck).
Instead, I’m working on cultivating a new attitude: Genuinely wishing people well, being happy for what other people have, not comparing what I want or don’t have to what they have. I’m not there all the time, because I’m human, but I’m working on it.
THE SUN NEVER SAYS
All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
With a love like that,
It lights the