“But I always liked side-paths, little dark back-alleys behind the main road- there one finds adventures and surprises, and precious metal in the dirt.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.
When I first read this beast of a novel, I was confronted with so many new and challenging ideas about faith, reason, doubt, free-will, morality, and the list goes on and on. The tricky thing, maybe for me, is when some new ideas get brought up in your mind and soul, there are also new choices. Choices are tricky. You can either run into the trickiness head first, or you can ignore it and step around it. I normally do some weird amalgamation of those two things and muse on ideas.
But that musing doesn’t always get us anywhere. It definitely didn’t get me anywhere in particular.
Picture this. You’re standing at the bottom of a mountain – a large mountain in a deep green wood. Just in front of you is a path – and a sign post that says “Mountain Top Cottage this way”. And that mountain top cottage is the exact reason you came to the foot of the mount. You heard that way up on the summit, in that cottage, is a wonderful leather wing-back chair by a fireplace, and large windows over-looking a beautiful expanse. You heard this and read about it in some travel guides and pamphlets. You’ve seen some pictures of your friends or others in that chair, by that fireplace, overlooking that expanse. And it’s exciting; you want to go up that mountain because of everything you’ve seen and read about.
You can sit at the bottom and muse all you want. Muse about the kind of leather the chair is made of, the type of stone used for the fireplace, or what you might be able to see from the summit. Ask questions of yourself – and even think through what kind of effort and equipment the journey would take. Muse and think. Think and muse. But all that thinking and musing won’t get you to the top of the mountain, rest in the chair, warm by the fireplace, nor be amazed by the views. The only way to enjoy the cottage is to get there.
That is what this blog, Caravaners, is really about. I want to lay a ground work for journeys, and then make sure to take them. To start a journey – to take the best steps possible ( through some thinking and musing ), and then walk out and up the mountain. To write about the highs and lows of that journey, and what can be learned from it. About maybe finding the side-paths and back alleys that lead to new adventures, surprises, and precious metals.
What is Caravaners ?
Caravaners is real.
There’s a faulty idea out there that something can be fully known without experience around it. Take that little example above. No matter how much I read the books, muse on the pamphlets, or question my friends about it, I will not know what it feels like to be there. But we don’t treat our lives like that very often. In fact, I think we are all pretty easily pleased and satisfied to live on others’ stories and adventures, or be distracted by them.
It’s easy to watch a movie where the main character journeys up the mountain and fights a giant spider, maybe to destroy a ring, but is himself almost destroyed in the process. It is easier to let life happen to you, rather than journey out. It is also easy to pretend we are living by living through the lives of others. It is difficult to go and do and fix and grow. It is easy to stay at the foot of the mountain – but there’s a cost to that.
Watching Frodo ( that’s who fought the spider in the paragraph above ) journey to Mount Doom didn’t really cost me anything – other than the ticket and popcorn. But it didn’t cost me what it cost him. I didn’t have to go days with little food, or a huge burden around my neck, not to mention the world of evil chasing me down and the livelihood of all pending on my success. All I had to do watch and be entertained.
To be fair, I don’t think the journeys in my life right now involve me destroying a ring imbued with the evil of The Dark Lord. But I do think they cost; and for the journey to become a reality, I have to count that cost. I have to decide – we all have to decide – if we will sit back and let life happen to us, or if we will go out and set a course.
Caravaners is my hope to take questions and ideas and hopes and instead of just talking about them, or musing about them, to turn them into real journeys.
Caravaners is about a community.
I also think there is a faulty idea of how we learn things. We often think that we need to learn everything and have it all figured out on our own. I live like that. There’s a lot of things I don’t really get about life and love and happiness – but I don’t often open up about those things. I normally bunker down and read and muse and try to think and reason it through.
Sad to say, it’s been a harsh reality to realize that I don’t have all the answers. That isn’t the expectation on us for life, though. I believe we were made for community – to go through life together. I think this is also the best way to learn and grow. To have people around you as support and security makes life just a bit easier. These are the people who have your back when the cards are down. They’re also the people who shake you up if you’ve been stuck for too long. Some have already learned or taken the path you’re looking into taking, and they have advice. Others have the exact same question as you and they will be by your side as you seek to answer it.
That is the hope for this blog. That somehow a community is built. One that offers security and an ear – one that has advice and knowledge to share, as well as stories to tell. To be climbing the mountain together.
Caravaners is about mastery.
Hemingway said “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” And that’s sort of what the journey is, or at least it should be. Going up the mountain isn’t about making yourself feel better than others. It’s not to stand on the summit and call out :
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
( I doubt you’ll say Ozymandias, unless your parents are Greek or really famous )
The goal of learning and growing and mastering is being, like ol’ Ernest said, superior to your former self. Whatever that looks like, whether it’s cooking, writing, philosophy, dancing, whatever – to grow and master. And, there’s emotional and personal stuff to mastery as well. Master our fears and doubts and insecurities – to grow and mature.
In my mind, the mastery comes from journeying. Take that mountaintop, leather chair, fireplace, and wide view for example. The goal is to see and enjoy the cabin and take in the view. But you’re going to learn and grow stronger on the way. There will be hills to climb, weather to face, as well as hunger and thirst. You master the tools you have at your disposal by simply using them ( and needing to use them ).
That too is what this blog is about. It’s about going on the journey of life and realizing maybe you weren’t fully equipped, or as good as you thought you were. But you’ll learn as you journey.
Wrapping it up
This post is really just an expanded About. I’m trying to give you the goals and hopes of this blog. Picture everything or anything you want to learn as a mountain. No matter how much you think about climbing it, you’re not going to get to the top unless you start walking. And that is what Caravaners is all about – the journey.
First, Caravaners is real. It’s not a pretend journey or just writing for the sake of writing. It’s learning by doing and experiencing. And hopefully getting to the top.
Second, Caravaners is about community. It’s about not going through this life alone. It’s about having support, encouragement, advice, and whatever else is needed to get to the top of the mountain.
Lastly, Caravaners is about mastery. It’s about mastering yourself and learning new things. The goal is to be superior to former self. The way to do this is by making the journey and needing to use the tools required to get to the top.
Maybe it’s a bit much to expect from a blog – maybe not. I’m just hoping you’ll also find people around you, in your life, friends, family, significant others, who will help you make your journey real, support you through it, and watch you become stronger and superior.