January 30, 2012

What's In a Name?

Before I start - How awesome is my husband? Reading his post about why he travels was one of those reaffirming moments where I am reminded of how much I love him. I love that he seeks to find commonalities with strangers and that he embraces differences. He's a keeper.

As soon as we decided to take this trip, we knew we wanted to start a blog to chronicle it - not just to share our stories with our friends and family, but as a commitment to recording our own experiences. But we're not leaving until October. That's a long time to keep up momentum for something. Not to mention, we have to consciously save a lot of money between now and then, and that's a long time to sacrifice while keeping our eyes on the prize.

So we decided we wanted to blog about our planning and research in the meantime as part of our goal to keep up the excitement for The Trip. I immediately started trying to come up with a name for our blog. I had read that officials in Burma will deny visas to any foreign journalists and that they do Google searches on anyone who applies. If they find anything that might make it seem like you are a journalist, including a blog that no one probably reads, they will deny your visa. So I knew the blog name couldn't have our names in it. At the beginning, I (half) joked to Tom that I wanted to call the blog Squat Toilets, Pooing in Pits, or Squatty Potties. He was not on board for that and I constantly told him he was boring.

We wanted the name of the blog to be meaningful to us and relevant to our trip, but nondescript enough to make sure we stay anonymous to probing officials. I kept a list of possible blog names, but nothing felt quite right. Then, while reading a book that Tom got me for Christmas, Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, I read a quote from Walt Whitman's Song of the Open Road.

It began, "From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines..."

I was reading in bed and was immediately in love with it. I read it aloud to Tom and he confirmed he liked it, too. From the moment we made the decision to travel long-term, Tom and I talked about wanting to say "yes" more. If an amazing opportunity comes up on the trip, whether it be trying a new food or working on a farm in Laos, we want to be open enough to say yes to that opportunity. And we knew that would mean letting go of some of the restrictions we place on ourselves - our fears, our dislikes, our worries, our sense of what is conventional. So the "loos'd of limits" part was something I was especially drawn to. And the fact that it came in a declarative sentence sounded exactly like what we were looking for. (Though I decided to change loos'd to loose for our blog name. I hope Mr. Whitman wouldn't mind.) When I researched the poem, I found that I loved the whole thing. It's very long and you can read the whole thing here, but here is one of my favorite parts:

        From Song of the Open Road
        By Walt Whitman

        From this hour, freedom!
        From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines,
        Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,
        Listening to others, and considering well what they say, 
        Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
        Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.

        I inhale great draughts of space;
        The east  and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

Los Cabos, 2011
On our quest to find the village of La Candalaria in southern Baja.
We failed. But the open road was beautiful.

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