The Summer of Jon

The Summer of Jon: Now Appearing on My Calendar

I had a panicky moment yesterday. I was checking to see if the two meetings I have to attend on the 20th overlapped and whether I was going to have to run from meeting like Greg Brady with two prom dates. I scanned the calendar quickly. (I can no longer remember anything and if it wasn’t for saved emails and my calendar reminders I would miss every single meeting I have to attend. Back in the olden days, I could remember things because I only had to remember about two things a year.)

May - Oct 2006 Calendar

As I glanced at the calendar, I saw the date of my departure for The Summer of Jon and my crusty, blackened heart jumped. It is getting closer each day. I know this is a fact most of us acknowledge, days pass moving us closer to death, but once I saw The Summer of Jon on the same calendar as my meetings I began to wonder if I am truly ready for my month-long journey.

I tend to travel with goals in mind, this is why I will be traveling by myself. I want to do this, and then that, and then this other thing today. Tomorrow I want to do X,Y,Z… this is great if you are attempting to spend your vacation driving your family members crazy, or conquering a continent,  but it is not the best way to relax. A few years back I hiked The Wonderland Trail, it’s a trail that goes around Mount Rainier and takes about 10 days. It is a challenging hike and not too many people finish it, but I did. Each day I would bust out about ten miles with a full pack and almost every day the trail climbed a few thousand feet and then dropped a few thousand feet, and each day I beat the other guys I was hiking with to the next campsite.

English: A panorama of the south face of Mount...

At one point the oldest member of our trio asked me why I was always in such a hurry, I hadn’t really thought I was in a hurry, but in reality I was. I wanted to get to the next place and beat everyone else. This hyper-competitive nature is part of who I am and I do my best to temper it, but it is a struggle for me to be gracious.

I have tried to relax and take my time, but I can’t and I think I have discovered the psychological reason behind this attempt to squeeze everything out of every moment: I am a frugal spender. To be totally honest would be to say that I want my money’s worth in everything I buy. I don’t save money, I just spend it with an eye on a bargain. (Guys who are truly frugal don’t spend money traveling to Europe, they invest the money in some pyramid scheme and then hope someday to go to Europe.)

Somewhere in my tiny mind I bought into the concept that time is money and therefore if I want to get the best deal out of my travel I must maximize my travel experiences by exhausting myself each day. I can rest when they run out of coffee.

So my panicky moment with my calendar the other day was not about being unprepared, it was about not being over-prepared.  I know where I am going! I know where I am staying! I have everything booked! I just don’t have my daily plan scheduled out for all 28 days! There are blank spots on my calendar! (Since I will be traveling through Germany I must begin using more exclamation points!) This over-planned attempt to wring the life out of my vacation time is odd to some people, but I have traveled with no plan at all many times. It is how I ended up sleeping on a pool table one night, and drinking water from a cistern with a dead bird in it. These are the mistakes of youth! In my aged state drinking water with microns of dead bird would probably kill me, and if I want to get my money’s worth on this journey dying is not an option.

A typical German sign.

A typical German sign!

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