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The Distance by Hawkeye Pete Egan B.
 

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  • I was raised by a father who’d been a monk for 6 years before he met Mom and started a family. When I was 5 or 6 years old, I often had visions of running away to be a lonely monk in a cave in the hills. It seemed like such a romantic notion to me. I can remember gazing out at the distant hills, standing beside my house, contemplating “the distance”, and just wanting to go ‘there’, wherever that was. I just had this notion that ‘there’, I could be somebody completely different, I could live a different life.

    I developed a plan. I would pack my little satchel full of what I thought I would need, have it ready under my bed, and would wake up in the middle of the night, after everyone else was asleep, and sneak out the door and begin my trek into the distance. I never managed to wake up, and when I got up early in the morning, I would be bitterly disappointed that I hadn’t followed through on my plan. I would make my way downstairs, through the dark house, everyone else still asleep except my brother Ken, to go out and begin delivering newspapers to my 25 customer portion of his morning route. It would still be dark out at that point. I guess it never occurred to me that I could go, then. Ken would be heading in a different direction to deliver to the rest of his 75 customer route. No, in my plans, it always had to be “in the middle of the night”, and I considered this to be morning.

    When I was in the Navy, whenever I got drunk on Tequila, I was always compelled to go off on my own to find “the distance” – that desire to run away still had an overpowering draw for me. Once I was good and liquored up, my resistance would be gone, and away I went! This fierce independence inside of me just took over. This desire to go experience something completely different than what was going on in my daily life.

    It got to be a running joke I had with myself, that whenever I drank Tequila, I would always wind up in a different state – literally – because, that was true. I would follow my feet down to the nearest highway, wherever I was, put my thumb out, and go. Sometimes, I would do this while I was in a blackout, and that would always be interesting when I came out of it. There was the process of first, figuring out where the hell I was, then why I was there, and finally, how to get back. Getting back was usually done the same way I got there – stick the thumb out, and go. I met a ton of interesting people that way! The ones that I was conscious of, anyway. The ones I met during my many blackouts on the way – I’ll never know who I met, what they said, or what happened. Those memories never were, and never will be.
  • I still love to travel, and do it a lot, although that draw to go to some distant, romantic place, that cave in the mountains, to be a lonely monk, stopped calling to me long ago. Or, did it? My trek up into the hills of Connecticut for a weekend retreat in February – maybe that was a remnant of that same “distance” pull. Who knows?

    But now, it’s mostly just for a change of scenery, a new experience, to meet new and interesting people, to relax, and to spend some good, quality time with my wife, away from all of the daily pressures and challenges of our life. This is needed for life balance.

    I realized this week that part of why I’m feeling so overwhelmed by all of the stresses going on in my life right now is, we haven’t had our get-away time in too long. We’ve come to really rely on that to keep things on an even keel. We have a long weekend get-away planned for our anniversary, which is coming up in a week, and I can’t wait. The vision for that distance is so much better than the romantic notion of a cave in the mountains. More like a book, a lounger, a pool, and the sun – lots of sun.

    In my mind, I’m there already.
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