Complusion psychological force: a psychological and usually irrational force that makes somebody do something, often unwillingly. Synonyms: urge, impulse, desire, craving, force, need (Bing online dictionary)
Have you ever felt a compulsion to do something? Come on, you know you have. You ate too much chocolate over Christmas, or stuffed yourself with turkey, or bought a new outfit you didn't really need. We all have times during which we can't seem to control ourselves and we give into harmless (and sometimes harmful) urges and impulses. It's human nature.
Most of the time, our compulsions are minor and harmless - eating the whole tube of Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough (nope, I've never done that). Other times, they may indicate a real psychological problem such as obsessive-complulsive disorder. Possibly worst of all, a minor impulse can become a life-altering craving such as when a harmless flirtation turns into a marriage-ending affair.
So, my version of pop-psychology now defined, I have to admit a compulsion of my own (besides holiday chocolate, that is). For the past couple of years or so, I have been feeling the need to undertake some grand adventure, and to do it alone.
I'm not talking about something as simple as joining a group of women I don't know for a 10-
- Bicycling the Pacific coast of the United States from Bellingham to the Mexican border
- Bicycling the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive in North Carolina and Virginia
- Hiking the Camino de Santiago de Campostela across northern Spain
Each of these options would take me from three to six weeks or so to complete, an amount of time during which Thane and Rowan have agreed they could live without me. Each trip would definitely challenge me physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
I keep trying to figure out why I have this pressing need to complete these trips, and honestly, I want to do them all, not just one. Not only do I want to do them, but I want to do them alone. That's the part I have the hardest time figuring out.
One reason is clear to me and entirely selfish. I want to be able to write about each trip when I'm done, and a book is my goal. Somehow, I feel as if the story of the trip would be more book worthy if I had endured the journey alone. Perhaps this idea is nuts, but there it is. I suppose I think that because most adventure books I've read have been about solo, life-changing journeys. However, that's not always the case. I've read plenty of books by people who adventured with a partner or a group. Either way is equally valid, but somehow, not for me. I want to go solo.
Another draw of these adventures is that they do present a challenge. Not only have I never completed such an extreme physical endeavor (and I could definitely use the opportunity to get into better shape), but I've never done anything that would require so much mental effort either. Especially if I were traveling alone, the sheer focus it would take to get up every morning and keep moving would be huge. So, too, would enduring the loneliness I would undoubtedly experience. I wonder if I really have what it takes to commit to spending so much time propelling myself forward with no reward but a sense of accomplishment. Would I quit on the first rainy day or the first time I had to ride miles out of my way just to get food? I don't know, and I want to know. I want to prove to myself that I have what it takes to push through a challenge.
I suppose some might think me selfish for being willing to leave my family for weeks just to do something for myself. Others might be hurt that I'm not extending an invitation for them to join me. Who knows, when push comes to shove, I might decide it's too long to be away or that I really do want company. But for now, I'm letting this compulsion carry me along, and I'm dreaming big dreams.