Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: The Myth of the Vagabond

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Myth of the Vagabond


Drawing by Becca Jones-Starr
 The vagabond is often a character that is glamorized in films and literary works. Jack Kerouac is a good example of this. Another known pop culture example might be The Eagle's song "Desperado"; About a young man who can't stay put. The irony about this rolling stone type character is that they are running from themselves. Since puberty I have been romanticizing the thought of a rock star guy. Not so secretly, I wanted to meet and fall in love with a rock star. All the while knowing there's pretty much no way they can be faithful or ever truly put me first. In my adult life I have understood this through therapy, seeing that I am attracted to men who can't stay put, to men who don't grow deep roots. They have been writers mostly, but all artists of some sort. Most of them gathering up "experiences" to write "the great American Novel." They tend to seek drama as if they are trying to induce a story.


 Most of the men I have dated, regardless of age "don't know who they are, what they want or where they are going." I could never relate to this concept, as I felt like I popped out of the womb with glitter and purpose. I've always known who I was and what I wanted, and I've never not had that privilege. I've realized that most folks, male or female, are not like this. Especially young people and understandably so, they are figuring themselves out. But the thing is, I seem to be hopelessly attracted to these men, which is something I'm aware of. I don't look at characters like Jack Kerouac in a glamorous light. In my eyes, MANY young people hit the road, meet new folks and hope to learn about themselves. This idea has been prevalent in culture for a long time. The movie "Into The Wild" where Christopher McCandless hit the road in Kerouac fashion writing about his journey was hugely popular. It might be adventurous, but it can also be emotionally wreckless.


Now it seems to me, some fine things have been laid upon your table.
But you only want the ones that you can't get.


 I have met many guys who like to travel and have been all over the world. The thing that I always find funny is even though they have traveled the world and seen a lot of things...they still don't know who they are. They often times still don't seem to "know their purpose." I argue your purpose is what you make it. I don't believe humanity is here for any reason, but we're alive and life is pretty amazing -- so let's take advantage of that. I've done my fair share of traveling, however, I certainly haven't gone international. But I feel like I certainly know myself, where I'm going and what I'm passionate about. It reminds me of that saying "Wherever you go, there you are."

 These guys' interests seem to be fleeting in almost every category, with women (OR men!), with where they want to live, work, and they often have only a handful at best, of friends. They make ambitious goals and rarely carry through with them. These men are often writers in some form, and act as if they are introspective and self aware. If they were...the result would be different. It makes me think of the paradox going on in the TV show "Frasier." A show about stick-up-their-ass, but well meaning Psychiatrists who aren't even aware of their own behavior. They help people through their problems in their professional life. But then replicate this behavior in their personal life that they act like they are above. Today's vagabond is like that. Kinda similar to a Hipster ironically. As if their inability to stay put, be satiated, or whatever is an asset.

How does it feel to be on your own? With no direction home? A complete unknown. Like a rolling stone?


 I'm not saying all writers are this way, just the ones I have run into. These individuals are never satisfied, and they they often can't see what's going on in their own life. They act like they have seen it all, and often brag about their IQ, as if to say "Just because I am emotionally careless does not mean that I am dumb." Living the the San Francisco Bay Area for almost 10 years, I have dated a fair amount of men who come from all over the world. Most of the people around here are transplants, so that's how it goes. Time and time again I run into the Vagabond guy, who writes, does photography, decoupage, and punk rock. They are true rolling stones, never staying put, unable to stay dedicated in any way...unless it's to their craft. The myth of the Vagabond is often interpreted as referring to those who keep moving as never lacking for fresh ideas or creativity. Firstly, I won't deny that these individuals are creative. But I also think they are missing part of the experience of life by never cultivating a relationship with a person. It's funny, because they write poems and stories about it, but do they ever stop to experience it? Do they really know what things like "love" are like?

 They claim to have seen the world, but they rarely can see themselves. 

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