Preamble, post-ramble

People responded kindly after that last post, and otherwise been reaching out and asking about the trip south with Jim Groom, which is appreciated. One week ago, after an epic jaunt that included nine stops across California and Oregon, I returned home late at night, and woke up the next day to a full inbox and plenty of the life I’d been putting off to catch up on. As the week progessed, my general sense of pleasant exhaustion gradually gave way to a cold, and I have spent the past few days mostly prone and in a foggier state than normal.

Even as we were in motion, I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to capture what was happening. Even a simple “tour diary” post would quickly sprawl into a mass of impressions and anecdotes that would defy any sense. Beyond the amazing tourism, I felt like this was a rare opportunity for shared reflection not only with Jim but with an array of friends who all seemed to be at their own vivid and pivotal points in life. And while Jim and I enjoyed talking over the many synchronicities and recurring themes as we moved along, forging it all into a coherent narrative or some sense of meaning eludes me. I feel as if I’ve experienced something significant, but still not entirely sure what message(s) if any to pull out of it, much less to share.

So for now, I’ll state the obvious. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have had the chance to visit so many fascinating places and to see so many people again. I know COVID is not over, but there was a sense that this tour represented a novel social reconnection or rolling reunion not only for us but for most of the people we visited as well. Most of them were people we’ve known a long time, and that we had not seen in years. For the most part, they were people roughly the same age as us, and going through a lot of the same broad life events. I was struck by how everyone seemed to be making bold moves to make meaning of this stage of living, and it was fascinating and gratifying to take stock with them and compare experiences, and realize how much of what I heard resonated so powerfully.

And while I hold off on recapping these encounters here for now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer immense gratitude to Jim. He kicked all this off last summer by coming up with this plan, and then by inviting me along. I’ve always had a blast with him, and we’ve had some riotous times and travels together over the years. But never one more rewarding than this. We were both a little more sensible and settled this time round, but not at the expense of laughs or of making the most of the moments. He was an impeccably considerate and good-humoured travel buddy, and I will always be thankful to have had this opportunity for adventure.

I hope to return to this trip with a series of small vignettes and roadside reports over the next few weeks. Maybe I will. Small bites feel more manageable but my track record in these respects is poor. But whatever I share here or elsewhere, this was a far more meaningful and valuable experience to me than I would normally expect on a vacation, and I can only hope the learnings and the reflections continue to percolate and bubble up as I move along.

I have a few other posts in the hopper: some developments at work I’m eager to share, further thoughts on open platforms building on a post I wrote last summer, and I still hope to find a way to let this space fill some gaps as Twitter continues to break down and I find my way with Mastodon. And giving myself permission to just dash off a quick post, even when I am feeling worn down and I know that whatever results will not feel satisfying… and then hitting “Publish” anyway. Like now.

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