Preparations: Some Thoughts on Pragmatism

I have always felt most strongly drawn to Sam of all the characters in The Lord of the Rings; I think in many ways he is the hero of the story.  But it is really because he is a gardener and a practical person, and yet loves the elves and the wild places too, that I love him as a character.  Bilbo is something like this as well; but I like Sam better.  I am the sort of person who would want to have rope with me on my adventures, and if I didn’t take it, would regret it.

I probably will take rope with me.  Most likely this will be in the form of a clothesline.

I am not a supremely pragmatic person:  I am heading out on an adventure, after all.  But I am well enough read in the literature  to know that some practicalities are worth attempting, even if I am fairly certain things will not unfold as I expect at all.  I am not setting out at the very beginning of my adult life, with only a crust of bread in my pocket and no dreams of what I’ll do back home; I have dreams (and some plans) for the One Day House.  I will plant a Party Tree of my own, and start the creation of what will one day be a magnificent garden, and not forget the joys of potatoes, either.

This is all to say I have spent a good deal of time and effort over the past few months trying to work through what practical details will in fact help me to put my dreams into practice, and which are likely to destroy any spirit of adventure and spontaneity in me.  The one-way ticket is an exercise in the latter; I may yet need to purchase a return flight if my efforts to get a British passport fall through at this time, but it is a statement to myself that this is not intended to be a holiday, but an adventure.

I have, however, acquired insurance of various sorts: travel health insurance for emergencies; storage insurance for the books (and other belongings, but mostly books) I am putting away; and I have been sorting out critical illness and life insurance because this I am young and healthy (enough) to get it at an affordable rate.  Of course I hope I won’t need either, but if I do, it will be there.  And when I have a small holding of my own, it will still be there, just in case.  This edges into the territory of anti-adventuresomeness, but then again, I am a fairly practical person, and also I don’t live in a book, and it makes me feel better to have done this.  Though I have categorised it as insurance towards “the writing life,” and not “the adventure” — though really these two things go together for me.  The point of the adventure is to shift into the writing life, as best I can.

On a level that works for both is the first aid course I spent yesterday and today doing.  This is something I’ve meant to take for many years, and am glad to have done so.  Most of the material was reasonably common-sensical, but some of it covered things I’d not known or never thought about.  I also learned how to take a pulse (mine and others), something I have never succeeded at in the past.  You never know when such a thing might come in handy.

First aid and insurance are boring things to talk about, but they provide peace of mind for me, so that I can concentrate on other aspects of my plans and not those ones.  These practical undergirdings are not fun, any more than digging compost into a new bed is fun: but the more care you give to the soil in a garden in the beginning, the more fun the rest of the time spent in it is.  I hope that the same holds true for the fine art of high adventure.  And compost is pretty magical, when all is said and done.  But that’s a topic for another day.


3 thoughts on “Preparations: Some Thoughts on Pragmatism

  1. I think it’s good to mention these practical matters, because you’re showing that adventure doesn’t have to be about taking all kinds of unnecessary risks. It still requires plenty of courage!


  2. Absolutely in agreement, spending your hard-earned dollars on emergency medical treatment wouldn’t scream adventure either, you’re just being brilliantly realistic about the whole thing!


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