George, an alcoholic attorney, decides to run away from his life and join these two drifters on their odyssey for as long as they allow him to tag along. Around the campfire one evening, George has this prophetic dialogue with Billy.
George Hanson: You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it.
Billy: Man, everybody got chicken, that's what happened. Hey, we can't even get into like, a second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel, you dig? They think we're gonna cut their throat or somethin'. They're scared, man.
George Hanson: They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em.
Billy: Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.
George Hanson: Oh, no. What you represent to them is freedom.
Billy: What the hell is wrong with freedom? That's what it's all about.
George Hanson: Oh, yeah, that's right. That's what's it's all about, all right. But talkin' about it and bein' it, that's two different things. I mean, it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Of course, don't ever tell anybody that they're not free, 'cause then they're gonna get real busy killin' and maimin' to prove to you that they are. Oh, yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em.
Billy: Well, it don't make 'em runnin' scared.
George Hanson: No, it makes 'em dangerous.
As much as we like to think that in 43 years our society has progressed beyond this negativity and we've become more open to new ideas and lifestyles, many attitudes haven't moved forward at all. When I speak to people about our upcoming Gypsy Trip, many of them seem fascinated, intrigued and genuinely thrilled for us. But this is not the case with everyone. I also encounter resentment, bitterness, disbelieve and distrust.
"You can't do that! You can't just take off and be homeless! Why would you do that?"
Hours can be spent trying to explain the logistics, but that's not really the answer they are looking for. They're real question is not about how we can afford it, nor where we will store our belongings. The real question is deeper.
"How can you just run off, be free, live a very different life when I can't?"
Again, hours could be spent explaining how they can, but the truth is, they have other reasons, reasons they are unwilling to understand nor confront, that keep them in the job they hate, mowing the lawn they hate, paying bills they resent paying, and maintaining a lifestyle of excess. The reasons they stay chained to their anchor go even deeper than many of them know, and deeper than they choose to look.
For me to walk away from the security of an unhappy marriage, facing financial destitution, loneliness, despair, uncertainty and worst of all, the unknown, took all of the courage I've ever needed to muster. With my exx, I knew what to expect, because things had remained the same for so many years. And even though I was miserable, I was comfortable. Change is always painful.
It seems that for some people, Highway and I represent the reality that people can change their lives at their own choosing and this fact makes them uncomfortable. But I can't worry about them, nor their opinion of me. I can't let the fear of rejection by friends and acquaintances affect my choices for myself.
These things I do for me, because frankly, if I can't live my life my way, then why should I even live? Jimi Hendrix once said,
"I'm the one that has to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to."I couldn't have said it better myself.