What is an adventure? Up until maybe three weeks ago, it was a word that was completely over-thought by yours truly. There was a pattern, a track I was running along time and time again, searching for the next thing to call my adventure: whether it was something small, like learning how to pick kale, or larger, like getting lost in Nashville and meeting a man who’d walked all the way from Tampa and was now willing to help me find my way. These things were adventures to me, and I hungered after them. I relished them only by being so uberly conscious of the fact that they WERE adventures that I was stuck in my head the whole time. I did it while doing everything; even if I was reading a book, I wouldn’t really be reading it so much: I would be thinking to myself, “Man, I am reading a book! What a great book this is for me to be reading. All of the words that I am reading and interestingly constructed sentences I am absorbing are certainly fascinating, and when I am done, I will be able to think about how I read this book!”
Bad, right? So bad.
How did I reach such a point? What happened?
I’m trying to think back over my two decades of life and determine an explanation. From birth to about 12 years old, I was good. Has anybody coined the term “Puberty is the root of all evil” yet? If not, that is now my philosophy. Once I became conscious that I was a human being among other human beings with whom I was in competition for everything, anything pertaining to my existence changed. I became overly conscious of everything I did, and thought a lot about it. I was in my head a lot more than I should have been. I also became horribly discontent that I wasn’t doing other things that other people were doing.
Last summer, I think, was when I finally realized that I wanted to get back to my roots: back to 10-year-old Jessica who would simply exist without thinking, and lived entirely in the moment. (Of course, I am not saying I want to extract everything “beyond 10” out of me; it would be silly to abandon the slightly more conscientious nature and advanced processing skills I have acquired with my age.) It’s been a process and will continue to be a process; especially if I start doing lovely things like thinking about how I am being so good at living in the moment (it is a horrible temptation that I have to squash frequently).
A related matter is how often I worry about wasting my time. I don’t know why I worry about this, since I waste a lot of time worrying about it, and consequently doing MORE things that waste my time because I get so depressed about all of the time that I am wasting. But that is what happens.
However, I am now officially ready to relinquish all of that worry. Among other recent circumstances, it was proven absolutely unworthy of ever being in my brain again by a certain night in New Orleans. Last Wednesday, two other Farm Peeps and I stayed at a Former Farm Peep’s shotgun house just outside the French Quarter. At about 10 pm, we had eaten dinner and watched a movie when the Former Farm Peep up and announced, “Who is ready to go out?”
“What?!” I exclaimed, a shriek that was almost unheard because of the “Sure!” cheered by my other two fellow guests.
“What do you mean?” Former Farm Peep looked at me queerly.
“Why would we go out? It’s bed time!” It is a well-known fact that I am not a nocturnal creature; and, by farm standards, it was past bedtime by a mile.
“But there’s so many jazz clubs to check out,” Former Farm Peep’s earnest persuasion started to work on me with the mention of “jazz,” but I was not as attracted to the word “club.” Clubs were where people partied and drank and did nothing useful with their lives. I was a useful person. I had plans to get up at 6:30 the next morning and go write at the coffee shop up the street. Staying out all night like a bunch of hooligans was not conducive to such refined literary pursuits.
“I don’t know……” I murmured, looking around for something to look busy doing, and finding nothing.
“Look, Jessica,” Farm Peep #1 chimed in. “Just come along for a little bit; and if you want to come back home after a while, we’ll walk you back.”
Farm Peep #2 and Former Farm Peep nodded in affirmation.
I squirmed and realized that I officially had no more arguments that did not make me sound entirely unreasonable.
“Yaaaaay!” Farm Peep #2, a person very in-tune to body language, cheered and jumped up and down.
“She’s coming?” Farm Peep #1 and Former Farm Peep brightened.
“I guess,” I groaned.
There was more cheering, and then we all headed out the door and into the night.
(By the way, if you have been imagining me talking to three yellow Marshmallow Peeps this whole time, and not actual people, you are not the only one. Still, I was talking to actual people…. and maybe I should choose different pronouns next time.)
Frenchman Street at night was probably a hugely toned-down version of Bourbon Street, and I was very okay with that. There were crowds…. great masses of drunk, obnoxious crowds… but also, there were very cool people doing awesome things, like playing jazz, blues, and bluegrass music, and dancing (composedly) to it. We went to four different clubs/bars (being me, I really don’t know the difference, so I beseech you to excuse my ignorance), and saw four very different bands. All of them were fascinating and delightful.
I got to see a side of society I had never been exposed to first-hand, and I really loved it. Not in the “I want to live that way all the time” kind of way, but I really truly appreciated the experience. And it was all because:
a) Once it started happening, I dropped all “wasting time” qualms
b) I got out of the past, out of the future, and out of my head and simply lived the moment.
I can honestly say it was one of the best nights of my life. We also met this random guy named David and played tag with him in the inner-city park (that was closed and we had to hop the fence to get into, and I really had to try hard not to worry about being arrested the whole time). But that is probably another story.
In the words of Nike: “Just do it!”