Pavement Ends

3 07 2012

This is one of my favorite road signs. For those who know me, they know that signals the beginning of real excitement. No telling what my means of transport will be, I become like a kid in the adventure candy store. My SmugMug site holds the keys to some of the adventures I have had the last few years, and not a one of them involves coloring between the lines, so to speak.

And so, in this last blog of the summer term, I hasten to advise you that any paving I may have provided since the 4th of June is coming to an abrupt end. You’re on your own now. Lace up your boots, strap on a helmet, and grab a flashlight and machete. The going may get rough from hereon.

And then again, maybe not. It is up to you to continue the learning adventure. Perhaps you do not desire a career in Marketing, which is perfectly alright. My point (and as Ellen still proclaims, “I do have one!”), is that whatever your chosen field is, keep on keepin’ on. Don’t let speed bumps slow you down. And if you have to, don’t allow fences and gates to keep you from moving forward.

Part of me wishes that I could do what Joe Garner did in Craigslist Joe, a documentary coming the 3rd of August. In it, Joe goes off the grid for a month, living off the land. And Craigslist.

Carrying only a laptop, toothbrush, cell phone and the clothes on his back, Joe seeks to survive exclusively by the good will of people he has never met before…but finds on Craigslist.

I know. This sounds like another A. J. Jacobs book waiting to be written. And I do not wish to be disrespectful to my family, because I would never set out to do this. I think.

Although the subject is compelling, it wilts a little in that the big experiment actually happened w-a-a-y back in December 2009, when Facebook was languishing with only a couple hundred million users. The social media dinosaurs still trod the interwebs.

But it still sounds like a hell of a lot of fun. Garner was out to make a point (and it is a point some are still trying to make today): he uses technology and social media to break out of the bubble that critics say we have created for ourselves in the networked era.

Garner definitely went where no pavement exists, and in the process, had all of his needs met. By strangers. Maybe not extravagantly, but certainly pragmatically. To be sure, the denizens of Craigslist are often scammers, spammers and creepers. OK, and sometimes murderers. This place is not for the faint of status.

Yet I admire Garner for venturing beyond the sign. For crawling through the barbed wire. For climbing the gate. Because beyond those little inconveniences lay true adventure. It is Life. Lived. Large.

And so as we bring this term to a close, may the laces of your boots be unfrayed. May the batteries of your mental flashlight be fresh. May your machete be sharpened, honed on the stone of knowledge prior. And may your fuel tank of adventure be pegged on F.

Because the road does not end.

Dr “What’s Next On Your List?” Gerlich


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