I do a lot of solo traveling during my time off from work. When you travel by yourself and you’re able to forgo certain comforts & luxuries of modern day life, you can travel very inexpensively.
Everyone should do it every now and then. It’s healthy, revitalizing, and you feel this deep sense of freedom like no other. I think it’s the best type of therapy in a world gone mad.
Anyways, for me, I like to fill up a backpack once in a while, grab my camera, buy a plane ticket, and just go. I like facing the unknown. This is how I beat death in life.
During my solo travels I’m always greeted by a married couple who strike up a conversation. No matter where I’m at, whether road tripping out West, hiking the Appalachian Trail, or drinking beer in the gutters of New Orleans, this is always the case.
After their fascination over my solo excursion subsides a little, we usually get around to talking about family life.
I’ll end up telling them that I have a wife and 3 kids at home.
The reactions are usually all the same. The wife’s eyes jolt wide open and she’ll typically say something like “wow, must be nice that your wife allows you out by yourself to do these things.” And the husband’s befuddled eyes, laced with a glint of pain and spite, shoot over to his wife and then back at me.
He’s usually speechless and just gives me a dull nod with a pretend smile.
I then have to tell them that my wife and I don’t have this modern-day tyrannical type of relationship where we “allow” each other to do things. Though we’re happily married, we’re both still free and unique individuals who have different passions.
She pursues what she loves freely. I do the same. It just so happens that I love ramblin’ through the back roads of America with a backpack, camera, and a tent. She hates it. So I go. She stays.
The wife in conversation usually looks back at the husband with this “don’t get any ideas” kind of look. He’s done for, I know it. He knows it. I feel bad for him.
I think Henry David Thoreau unfortunately had it right when he said that most men “lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.”
This kind of conversation happens quite often.
Even back home my married friends ask the same questions. “How do you do it, man? Your wife just lets you go, just like that?”
Yes. Yes she does. She’s a mature, self-sufficient woman who wants me to do what I love. She knows me, she knows my soul would die if I didn’t. And when a man’s soul dies, so does everything else.
People also express to me that they would love to do things like this. They want to get out there and taste something real, something raw you know? But they don’t. They can’t. Their spouses do not approve of such things.
It’s this or they simply lack the guts to go at it alone. But it’s usually the former.
I can’t imagine not doing things you love because a spouse, whether wife or husband, holds you back.
That’s not the way to live in this brief life.
Maybe that’s why most marriages fail. Maybe that’s why many people are soul-dead by 40. Maybe that’s why depression and suicide are rampant in the US. I don’t know.
Many of us use our relationships as a crutch to limp thru life. Our individuality is diminished and we become a diluted version of who we’re meant to be.
When you give up pursuing things that make you feel alive your soul becomes stale and your heart turns cold. This has a negative effect on everything around you, including your family life.
As the brilliant Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung observed, “Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”
Today, it seems domestication has become a jail sentence for a lot of people. And many men have come to terms with their bondage. So, they end up building man caves in their homes or playing video games deep into the night and spending weekends on couches in front of screens — stuff like that.
There’s nothing there.
This is the common man. The domesticated man. This is what we have become.
Nietzsche, the great prophetic thinker of the 19th century, saw that “Society tames the wolf into a dog. And man is the most domesticated animal of all.” He believed it was the intention of all cultures to simply “breed a tame and civilized animal, a domestic pet.”
He thought this would wreak dire circumstances across societies as whole.
Nietzsche foresaw that in time men would devolve into what he called the ‘Last Man’ — the final product of industrialized, mass society. This Last Man is aimless, unheroic, uncreative, and unexceptional. He has become too obedient, too comfortable. His aspirations are lifeless along with his soul.
The ‘Last Man’ would become a man who has sacrificed his life upon the alter of security and comfort. He’s a man who has lost the fire in the gut and doesn’t give a damn.
Modern man has fulfilled Nietzsche’s prophetic ‘Last Man.’
It’s the everyday suburban man, over-medicated, with dead desires and hollow ideas driving mad through the streets of suburbia with nothing to do except wait wait wait for the dawn.
Always waiting for the dawn.
But Nietzsche also saw a little hope. He knew we had it in us to “be who we are.” In his poetic way, he inspired us with the wisdom that “one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.”
It’s our job to find the chaos within, express it, shout it out from the rooftops. We must refuse to go gently into that good night. We must rage rage rage against the dying of the light.
So to all married individuals everywhere I say unto you: Never stop digging for your gold. Never stop pursuing what you love. Never let a relationship halt you from becoming who you are.
I’ll end with the vivid words of Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk:
“Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.”