Closing In On Houston

Trip Start Dec 02, 2013
Trip End Dec 15, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Wednesday, December 4, 2013

So Mr. Brian Bulger sends and email and says "Cal, why are you doing this?" Ah yes, Mr. Bulger, that is a very good question. Well, the shorter answer is that I have always wanted to do this and now I have chance, so I am doing it.  There is more and I will share some more along the way.  I had a few conversations with co-workers recently about meaning of work and mid-life crises.  I am too old now to have a mid-life crisis, but sometimes people belittle mid-life or other age level searching while I think it is good to keep asking those questions throughout my life. If a mid-life crisis leads one to just buy a red corvette, that is silly, but if the persistent questions lead one to make better decisions, that is good.
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Therese on

In answer to Brian's question, I think one of the interesting things about a trip like this is that you check your identify at the door. You leave the Mike Callahan or Cal or Michael everyone knows and become another anonymous passenger on the train. The journey allows you, for a short time, to leave behind the baggage of thinking about work and shopping and the normal logistics of life, which frees you to notice the suffering of a woman who can't go an hour without a smoke, or the one who doesn't have enough cash to cover the fare. It's healthy to let that kind of openness and attentiveness into the brain now and then. On the other hand, there's nothing like seeing an old friend like Bill Schmidt to restore your sense of who you are - not that you'd lost it. Enjoy your time in Houston!

Brian on

Cal, I'm sure this fascinating and eye- opening. Is there a book on the horizon a la Jack Kerouac, who said, "Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don't be sorry."

Cynthia on

Definitely agree with the questions being a good thing if they are a catalyst for meaningful change. Recently I was writing a friend who is struggling to convey to her students the impact that the Great Depression had on those people who went through it. I also see how there has been a minimalist movement in food and living, albeit "trendy", but hopefully has meaningful impact on those who participate, to move away from consumerism. There is great wisdom in leaving those things behind, and whether by circumstance or choice, there is so much to learn from it. I feel that there is a movement to reject some of the consumerism that we are bombarded with everyday. I feel that there are some people out there beginning to question what is truly important, or what is it that makes a life worth living.

I remember being in transition once and having a very small studio apartment with very few items in it. I didn't have a kitchen, but I had a sink, and a rice maker. It was amazing the wonderful and nutritious meals I made, as I had to learn to make the most with what I had, and learned how little I really do need to survive, and be healthily. I lived there alone and at night when I would come home, I didn't have TV or even internet, so it was a few months of living alone and having nothing but quiet. It was wonderful and I think of those days, even though at the time I did not realize what a gift that experience was. There is something just wonderful being able to spend time alone like that.

I also recently read an article about minimalist living, and how when you clear the clutter, you make room for what really matters, both literally and metaphorically. Now, how to balance that living with two clutter bugs? Sigh. That's the next challenge.

Here's a great article:

It's called " Angela Merkel's austerity postergirl, the thrifty Swabian housewife
Frugal housekeeping and balanced budgeting stems from an area with a history of poverty and a religious avoidance of worldly amusement" It reminds me of the way my boyfriend's mother lives in Germany. I loved so much, how she grows all her own produce, makes marmalade, knits and sews and is absolutely wonderful in every way.

How to find balance living in this country, with student loans, and bills, and responsibilities that must be met? If only there was a way to go back to real and simple living here. It often feels as if one is forced to make choices that drive you farther and farther away from the "truth."

I often wish I could be part of something meaningful. I have read in so many places that the best way to make an impact s by positively impacting those that are immediately around you. But I am left desiring to be part of something bigger. That's my mid-life crisis :)

Thanks for keeping us posted on your journey, Mike! It is fun vicariously learning what it is like to go on a cross-country train!

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