BY: TIM O’NEAL
The thought of hitchhiking produces a whole range of reactions and emotions in people. For some, it’s a terrifying idea. It brings to mind the worst possibilities of interacting with strangers on the lonely highway. But for many others – especially those who have tried it – it’s a thrilling way to let go of control and open themselves to a unique experience. Here are some quotes from authors and travelers about the challenge and beauty of hitchhiking.
“Not aimless. Not in the least. It’s just that my aims are different from most. There are plenty of aimless people on the road, all right. People who hitchhike from kicks to kicks, restlessly, searching for something: looking for America, as Jack Kerouac put it, or looking for themselves, or looking for some relation between America and themselves. But I’m not looking for anything. I’ve found something.” “What is it that you’ve found?” “Hitchhiking.”
This one is from Even Cowgirls get the Blues, the fantastic novel and movie about Sissy Hankshaw and her incredible hitchhiking abilities. For her, hitchhiking isn’t a way to get from one place to another. It’s the end in itself.
“…when you are constantly prevailing upon the kindness of strangers – as a hitchhiker must – it keeps you in a positive frame of mind. Call it Zen and the Art of Hitchhiking. The Way of the Lift.” -Will Ferguson
Showing gratitude is something a successful hitchhiker will become quite accustomed to. It can be a humbling experience to be constantly dependent on the kindness of others.
“Hitchhiking around Canada with a buddy after my senior year of college was the closest thing to an adventure I’d ever had, and given the cheerful, helpful nature of most Canadians, it wasn’t much of an adventure.” –Stephen King
But enough of quotes from great and popular authors. Here are a couple from authentic travelers. The creator of lastwordsfortheroad.com found this one in an airport. It’s not about hitchhiking specifically, but certainly applies.
“Like all great travelers, I see more than I remember and remember more than I see.” -Tyler Tranor
“You will be constantly suspended, constantly expecting and then constantly disappointed, until when you have learned to let go and give the control to the ROAD. Then you shall be able to enjoy every minute of it, enjoy (instead of suffer from) the suspense and relish life as it is.” –Source
Perhaps the greatest lesson of hitchhiking is learning to let go of control and using predetermined schedules as a very rough guide. If a traveler can find a way to stay calm in the midst of uncertainty, they will be rewarded with an invaluable life experience.