Just Walk Away

I’ve been drawn to two books in my library that I am re-reading. I’m trying to understand their special allure. The first is called The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, and the other is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Each book presents an older man who simply walks away from his life. He doesn’t tell anyone he is leaving, and he doesn’t take anything with him.

Back when I was working far too hard at three jobs, I used to daydream in the car while driving between locations about staying on the highway and driving as far as I could and never turning around. I knew it was a daydream, but it saved my sanity on many occasions.

Why do I still find this idea so appealing? Why would anyone do this? One reason might be to escape present circumstances, but my present circumstances have never been better.

Another reason might be purely for the sense of adventure. I think that’s the appeal for me. Admittedly, the 100-Year-Old-Man and Harold Fry (65) were in much better physical shape than I. They walked. Harold Fry walked all the way across Scotland. I’ll have to drive. They had no money. The 100-Year-Old-Man robbed people, and Harold Fry depended on the kindness of strangers. I’ll need money. Already I can see that my sense of adventure is tempered with a lot of convention and common sense. It will never make a good book—The 70-Year-Old-Woman Who Got in the Car and Drove Far Away. No. I’ll have to stay in touch with my sister and my friends.

I guess I’m just ready to go on a vacation.

What about you? Do you ever want to walk away (or drive away)? Will you really do it? Where would you go? Why does that appeal to you?

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Just Walk Away

  1. I think that’s sort of what my friend Carolann and I did. She was divorced, I was newly widowed and we just got in our van, whichever one was running at the time, and took off. We traveled all over the US and Canada, visiting family and friends, meeting other polio survivors, laughing and having a great time. We did come home now and then, sometimes her home and sometimes mine. I look back on those 4 years as one of the happiest times of my life. I’m glad I did it then, because I couldn’t do it now.

  2. ShirleyJetzke

    I really don’t have the desire to run away, with no destination in mind. There were periods in my life when I would have loved to do that. I am more contented now. However, sometimes when friends describe very interesting or and unusual trips they have gone on, I have the desire to do something similar. My husband has lost his interest in traveling so I am thinking about going somewhere(?) with a lady friend. Any takers?

  3. Mona Knight

    This has always appealed to me. My sister says we are both part wandering gypsy and we got that from my parents. Unfortunately, I have an adult son who would wonder what happened to me if I simply walked away. As I age, I’m coming to the realization that I treasure my home, wherever that is at the moment. I don’t treasure “things” or “stuff” that people accumulate over the years, so it wouldn’t be hard for me to leave all that behind. But leaving my famiy would be the hard part. But oh I do love a good car trip with no specific destination in mind. I’m afraid I’m not up to walking across the U.S. (or Scotland).

  4. Bonnie A

    I enjoyed the 100 year old Man because I could understand and empathize with his desire to escape celebrating his 100th birthday in the “old folks” home. He was bored with it all and at his age he could risk everything for some adventure and excitement. The book then became a good read!
    I used to voice the expression “I’d like to ride off into the sunset”. It was that desire to abandon responsibilities and disappear. We all get that feeling but don’t act on it. What my husband and I did was buy a cabin at the lake to escape to on weekends. At first there was no cell phone connection, then he added a fax machine so he could work from the lake, then there was the Internet. The electronic leash pretty much undid the feeling of being out of touch.
    What actually removed us was his illness. It separated us from his workaday world, from activities previously enjoyed especially with friends. It changed our own relationship from a mutual partnership to a caretaker/dependent one. We discovered new strengths in ourselves.
    Now I am on a new journey by myself. Like the 100 year old man, I have to take risks and find my own adventures

  5. Pam Steinke

    I’m a real homebody! I prefer to go to uncharted places in the novels I love reading! I read one where the main character had some sort of disorder where he HAD to keep walking and couldn’t stop, but I can’t remember the name of it. It was a good read though. A very unique book!

  6. Ann Hopkins

    For many years, decades even, I experienced random impulses to just get on the highway and drive west. It happened when I was driving in to work in the morning or leaving a meeting later in the day. This desire to spontaneously take off and head west danced in the shadows of my imagination, but never advanced beyond a vague fancy.

    Do I wish I had done it? Did I miss something? I’m sure I missed plenty of experiences, both good and bad, that might have come from such an adventure. I think what was important to me at that time was that I was free to take off if the urge ever took hold. I liked that sense of freedom way more than the practice of it.

    When the time came, I took my new husband’s hand and we ventured to Northwest Arkansas. It was the right time but a different direction.

  7. Kate

    Road trip! Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had wanderlust. At the age of 5 I took off on my tricycle, or walked, always curious to see what was over the next hill. I did it many times, getting farther and farther away until one day my mother came after me with a willow switch, and that was the end of that. But not the end of the desire, which I still have to this day.

    The desire became so strong at one point that I gave up home, relationship, jobs and community, bought a motorhome and hit the road, with no idea where I was going, just wherever the spirit led me. But I didn’t do quite as much traveling as I wanted to and then I met my husband and settled down.

    But I still want to go. Curiously, I don’t have the “world traveler” thing, just the body in motion thing, and new sights. I’ve been overseas, and that was fine, but it’s not experiencing new cultures I’m after, just new visuals, whether here or there.

  8. Hi Alice this is Kim we met in blog class, sort of. I like your site its funny and interesting. I have never read the book of the 100 year old man but I have often thought that before I got so old that someone wanted to put me in a nursing home I would just “walk” off into woods or the mountains or somewhere where I could just die honorably with my dignity still in tack. I think workamping fills that nitch of escape for me. Well I have not gotten to far on my Workamping blog but I will try to stay with it, it requires some time of which I have to manage in order to get everything done in a day. Oh well. Have a great week!

  9. Oh gosh yes. I’ve thought of driving off a thousand times. Not that my life is horrible at all. But the SILENCE of just you and God alone in the world. Not having to consider anyone else’s needs, real or imagined. Just you and your writing and thinking your own thoughts in peace. How selfish it sounds and, of course, I never acted on it. Though I did drive past my exit once, just to see if I could. To the next exit. Where I turned around.

  10. When I was married a long time ago, unhappily, I thought of taking our credit card and flying somewhere far away, but I always thought of her getting stuck with the bill and . . . now with a different partner far away trips are planned in advance. We start laying out clothes weeks in advance. They’re almost like safaris. We come home to rest.

  11. Faye

    Yes Alice, in my younger years I have had thoughts of driving off anywhere. I wondered how long it would be before so some missed means would start looking. But when i came to my corner to turn I always turned. What kept me from going on was how much I would miss my family. I like to travel and have been overseas a few times. But, it always good to be back home.

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