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Common Ground

My bags are packed, but I’m not ready to go.

This trip has “tourist” written all over it. A tourist travels for pleasure. Traveling has never been much fun for me.

Maybe it goes back to those family trips as a kid that, for want of a better word, were called vacations.



We would load up the car in the hottest part of the year and head to Oklahoma to see the grandparents. This meant traveling across the whole state of Texas in July.

In those days cars did not have air conditioning.



Being cursed with “motion sickness” for as long as I can remember means not being able to look down to read a book or pursue other pastimes.

Traveling was torture. It had no purpose except to get to Grandma’s house. It was equated in my mind with aimless wandering like a lost soul stuck in Purgatory.

That could be due to the fact that at least once on every trip we would become lost. Maps didn’t mean much to my dad. Stop and ask directions? We all know real men never ask for directions.

My dad always said a vacation consisted of two weeks after which you were too tired to return home and too broke not to do so.

Someone smarter than me thought up the idea of “mini-vacations.” I suppose the idea is that shorter trips are less of a hassle and less time consuming. Not so.

When you pack for two days it may as well be for two weeks. I’m not sure why this is so, it just is. The luggage holds the same amount of stuff.

There are other images stuck in my mind from those mindless days of traveling as a kid. Tourist traps designed to charge exorbitant prices for everything from food to trinkets, like “Next stop, Texas Joe’s two-headed rattlesnake.”

Now I could get behind the idea of being a pilgrim rather than a tourist. But Americans never have caught up with the rest of the world on this pilgrim idea.

Pilgrims go on pilgrimages in which they journey to some sacred place as an act of devotion.

A journey with a purpose sounds much better.

I’m not proposing sackcloth and ashes here, but color-coordinated “outfits” are definitely out. And obviously there is no need for toting around three or four huge pieces of luggage when one backpack will do.

Maybe my family wouldn’t be bugging me about writing in my journal when I’m supposed to be having fun.

Tourists don’t keep journals. Pilgrims do.

Pilgrims blend in with their surroundings. They can easily pass as locals, eating in really good funky places only locals know about.

Pilgrims are alert to every detail along their path, knowing that everything that happens to them is for a reason. There are no “accidental” pilgrims because there are no real accidents in life.

Pilgrims have no need to ask for directions because they are never lost.

No itineraries. No schedules. No agendas.

Pilgrims are in no hurry to get to their final destination. They know the journey is the best part.

Come to think of it, a real pilgrim wouldn’t have to leave home to go on a pilgrimage. The journey of life would suffice – living with a sacred purpose.

Living as if we truly believed life was sacred would be a real kick. No more violent and angry rage toward others simply because they cut us off in traffic.

Anyone care to join me?


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