Running on Empty

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields…

Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I’m running behind
— Jackson Brown

Here is a link so you too can sing along. https://youtu.be/Vq25ZJwZJzU

On my fourteen-hour drive to college, I would sing along with Jackson Brown. I was 21 on "Highway 101" from Southern California to Humboldt State University.

I was living it.

I don’t know where I’m running now.
I’m just running on.
Sold! I love my house, but I love my new life more. 

Sold! I love my house, but I love my new life more. 

"Many summer fields" have been good to me, and now that I am retired, I feel that "running behind" part.

A lot has changed since my long drives in the eighties. 

This month I am asking myself "How did I pick up all this stuff along the way?" 

I like my house, my couch, and my bathroom, and my books, and my pool, and my clothes, and my rice cooker, and my flip flops, and my artwork, and my music, and my clocks, and my bath towels, and my houseplants. I love all my stuff. 

But, they can't go with me on The Big Walkabout. Less is more. I want to get rid of more and keep less. I don't want my life limited by my possessions. 

The less I own, the more I can travel.

My collection of Star Trek action figures was the first to go. 

My collection of Star Trek action figures was the first to go. 

What do you do with the High School Yearbook? Mom's glass figurines? Dad's old belt buckle? The necklace you got from your first love? The gifts your children gave you when they were in kindergarten? The craft project you started two years ago and haven't found time to finish? The old skis. The extra canning jars. Clothes that don't fit. Books you won't re-read. 

"Cuppie" may be listed on eBay for $50, but no one wanted the one I inherited. It went to Goodwill. 

"Cuppie" may be listed on eBay for $50, but no one wanted the one I inherited. It went to Goodwill. 

Sooner or later, you must face it.

"You can't take it with you." 

Have you had the chance to clean up after the death of a loved one? A mother, a father, a family member passes away and their things need to be evaluated, shifted, and placed in another spot. 

It isn't pretty. It is hard. Emotionally, mentally, physically, time-consuming, life energy sucking hard. 

List it on eBay.  You get no bids. 
Post it on Craigslist.  You get spam. 
Put in on Facebook.  You get reminders to "please mark items as sold," when it hasn't sold. 
Push it onto your children. You get a twisty face look. "Mom… Really?" 
Sell it at a yard sale. You get two bucks. 
Leave it on the curb for "FREE." You get the neighbors worried that you are leaving trash on the street. 
Give it to Goodwill. You get a useless receipt and no tax benefit. 
Pack it in a box. You get to pay for a storage unit, and you still need to deal with it later. 
Or you keep things until you die and someone else must decide what to do with it. 

That is the downside of downsizing. 

I haven't been able to sell my clarinet. 

I haven't been able to sell my clarinet. 

I cried as I cleaned out my photographs and gave away art supplies and frames. My dream for an art studio will have to wait. 

Cleaning out my photography stuff was hard. I threw away most of my paper prints. Photographs and frames don't store well. 

Cleaning out my photography stuff was hard. I threw away most of my paper prints. Photographs and frames don't store well. 

Boxes of empty frames. Such potential! Dumped in a bin at Good Will. 

Boxes of empty frames. Such potential! Dumped in a bin at Good Will. 

But there is an upshot that makes it all worthwile.  

All four bicycles went to nice people who wanted them very much. 

All four bicycles went to nice people who wanted them very much. 

Sold my grandmother's sewing machine to Ruth who wanted to make rag quilts for grandbabies. 
Sold the chainsaw to someone trying to keep their tree trimming business viable. 
Sold four bicycles, all to wonderful people. 
Sold the guitar to parents who wanted is as a gift to their daughter.
Sold a clarinet to a beaming high school student. 
Sold upholstered chairs to a colorful gay couple. 
Sold my mother's rocking chair to a grandmother. 
Sold cabinet work to an interesting woman who lives in the Fresno's Tower District. 
Sold our house to a family with an infant girl and a pre-school boy. She sells textbooks from her home office, and they wanted desperately to send their children to Buchannan School Complex. 

Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive,
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive.

Buying and having nice things was fun. There is nostalgia in all that stuff.  But the object isn't the memory. Life isn't about accumilating artifacts. Life is about living and collecting experiences.  

I loved stringing beads with my daughter, but we have both moved past our Hello Kitty box of beads. 

I loved stringing beads with my daughter, but we have both moved past our Hello Kitty box of beads. 

Giving away things doesn't diminish the value it had when I needed it. It was valuable, and I am grateful for having owned my things. Selling something doesn't cancel its value. Giving something away doesn't detract from what it did for my life. Donating an object doesn't reverse its effect on my life. My memories are not dependent on objects. 

I want to live a life that looks forward, not back. I'm keeping my memories, my experience, my loves, and my life. But, I'm not holding onto stuff. I'm getting ready for the future. I'm looking forward to travels, new stories, and more good memories. 

I know in my heart that less is more, and I'm still on that road trip. 

Thank you, Jackson Brown. I'm still singing along.

"I'd love to stick around, but I'm running behind." 
Sold the guitar. For years it sat in our garage. Now it is making music. 

Sold the guitar. For years it sat in our garage. Now it is making music. 

I Walk So I Can Walk

My feet hurt.

My legs are sore.

My back aches.

I am tired.

I am starting to cry for no known reason, 

and I am in one of the most amazing places in the world.

Maybe you have been there too. This happened to me in Moscow Russia, Rome, Italy, Costa Rica, Washington DC, New York... almost every big city trip has challenged my stamina. There is nothing worse than being too pooped to pop while traveling. I learned early in my travels that fatigue can be a wet blanket on the excitement, wonder, and pleasure of discovering a new experience.

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“I walk so I can walk.”

Some people train for sports events, triathlons, marathons or to lose weight.  I train on a regular basis so I can travel. Preparation is a big part of any trip and I recognize that I need to be physically ready to tour the world.  I can get the best airfare, the cheapest rooms, and the most exotic food, but if I’m not feeling well… all could be wasted time, money and effort.

Twice a week I practice yoga, and two or three times a week, I go to George Brown’s Fitness and spend an hour on a treadmill listening to podcasts. Some of my favorites are “Grammar Girl”, “Get it Done Guy”, and “Extra Pack of Peanuts Travel Podcast”. Or sometimes I just listen to music and let my thoughts wander on my next walkabout or what to write in my next blog post. 

When I am not traveling far and wide, there is a terrific destination right outside my front door. One of my favorite Walkabout Workouts is a long walk along the Clovis Old Town Trail and the Dry Creek Trail. I took my blog photos along the route. 

The hike to Old Town Clovis

The hike to Old Town Clovis

Reflecting upon the Dry Creek Trail. 

Reflecting upon the Dry Creek Trail. 

I remember the Clovis Old Town trail when it still had railroad ties. The City of Clovis worked with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to transform the railway that ushered fruits and vegetables through town, into a paved pedestrian trail. 

“The Clovis Old Town Trail begins near Fresno Yosemite International Airport on the southern edge of Clovis and continues north along Clovis Avenue. The trail skirts many residential and commercial areas, with easy access along the entire length.”

I usually catch the trail in my neighborhood  at the Trailside Shopping Center,  Willow and Nees, The trail traverses South to Cottonwood Park where it connects with the Dry Creek Trail.  

Sometimes there is water in Dry Creek at Cottonwood Park. 

Sometimes there is water in Dry Creek at Cottonwood Park. 

It takes time to take a hike. But you only have time for the things you make time for, and the reward is a longer, healthier world wide walkabout. 

A walk is a good time to reflect on the last trip and the next adventure. 

A walk is a good time to reflect on the last trip and the next adventure. 

Sycamores and gingkoes change color and drop their leaves with the change of seasons. After a Walkabout Workout on the trail, I find I have a better attitude and a more positive outlook.

It is a moment of relief. A time to take a breath.

When on a Walkabout Workout,  the far becomes near and you can see details in the small things nearby. 

When on a Walkabout Workout,  the far becomes near and you can see details in the small things nearby. 

And, I face the world with a better view.

Inky Cap Mushrooms along the trail. 

Inky Cap Mushrooms along the trail. 

My Fitness Partner regularly joins me.  We walk and talk and make plans for our next adventure and solve any problems of the day. Sometimes, I try to ignore my fitness commitment, only to be reminded  that I really do want to "walk so I can walk."  If not for now, then for our next trip. 

Frequently we include lunch along the way, or a stop at the Clovis branch of the Fresno County Library.  

My Fitness Partner at the Dry Creek Trailhead on Shepard Avenue, Clovis. 

My Fitness Partner at the Dry Creek Trailhead on Shepard Avenue, Clovis. 

My late mother would say, "You will never have anything nice if you don’t learn how to take care of things." I want my bogy to be nice to me when I travel, so  I own the responsibility for my health. 

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There have been times when we have counted as many as 21 different bird species.

I am thankful for living in a community that is a worthy travel destination, full of beauty, peace, and interesting places to walk. I am safe, and I can enjoy a beautiful environment right outside my front door. Maybe you have such a place outside your doorstep. 

I enjoy traveling every week, with a Walkabout Workout. .  

I walk because I can walk. I hope you do too. 

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