A Robert Johnson moment…


I’ve just been reading Reflections on Serious Sunday over at the Old Gits blog. One thing that my folk’s have fought with over the years has been the eternal struggle of sensible versus risk – something that every parent does I guess. Before Dylan came along I was the epitamy of irresponsibilty – I lived from a rucksack wandering the world without a care. I smoked everything I could, drank like a fish and took vast quantities of class A drugs…

Suddenly this changed overnight. A tiny life held in my hands removed all desire to wander and party and discover the world. I wanted to discover my son and my family. I wanted to build a house and create a home. Unfortunately my girlfriend didn’t lose her inquisitive nature to the same degree so the story didn’t quite make it onto the fairytale shelf…

Three years later and things are very different. I’m feeling a gradual but strong return of my desire to wander – directly proportional to the growth of Dylans independence I think. I’ve spent a vast amount of time on my own recently – waiting for something to change but it isn’t going to without some personal momentum. The thought of heading off into the wilderness is very daunting for me these days – which makes me doubly sure it’s something I have to do. I left a comment earlier at Dad’s site about regretting what you’ve done – not what you haven’t. Good advice – I just need to follow it myself.

My parents took a huge risk when they jacked in the ‘London life’ – they had proper jobs and a home – and bought a shell of a house in the arse end of nowhere. No friends or family next door to help them (I think that may have been the point!). They carved a life from nothing and they did it together. Yes Nursie, I am very proud of them and grateful that they showed me and Tiggz that there is always a choice that isn’t the obvious…

Of course this means that it’s entirely their fault that I dropped out of college and ran away to join the circus – but that’s another story…

I didn’t surf today.


  1. Famous Delta blues guitarist who wrote ‘Crossroads’ (no it wasn’t Eric Clapton). Reputedly sold his soul at the aforementioned road junction to the devil himself in return for musical prowess and fame…
    Wikipedia is quite good btw.

  2. Yes, but he likes talking to you.

    It takes a different kind of bottle to stay in one place and make life as whole as possible for your child. I know a lot of people who didn’t have it – you’re not one of them, I’m glad to say. (We’re quite pleased with YOU on the whole. Course you can’t read this bit.)

  3. It’s like the Papersurfer family messenger service this blog today. If anyone else wants to comment – they have to become honorary family members…

  4. Oh how true… I know from my own experiences that at one time I would at the drop of a hat take what ever money I could get my hands on and Jet off on some far away surfing adventure.

    With the coming of the girls the first thought in my mind these days is how will it affect them. Having a baby does indeed change everything.

  5. It sure does. Taking them along is always an option – when Dylan was little we took him travelling around New Zealand and I’ll definitely be taking him on some surf trips in a few years time…

  6. I feel compelled to comment…All of my life as far back as I could remember…I had wanted to liv in and be a part of New England in the US. Now we are common working class americans..trips to New England were just simply out of the question. So one day I just made up my mind I was going. I told my husband and said it was up to him whether he came with me or not…well he did..and, he hated it…but, he stuck it out for almost 10 yrs. with me. Now we just simply put everything in storage literally overnight and moved 1900 miles away…..I am glad I did that now when I lok back. I am 50 and we are back down in the midwest….but, I am ever so glad I took that leap. also my husband at age 52…left his job and decided to become a long-haul truck driver….now we travel together in a what is virtually an RV…and, we have seen all of America and most of Canada. But, then again I have also been under psychiatric care for quite a while…but, I just didn’t want to look back at the end of the road and say I wish I had….I went ahead and did it. Good luck…whatever your choice:)~jackie

  7. As someone who has chucked a comfortable — yet incomplete — life away in favour of the unknown… well, I just wanted to say that I love this post on several levels. It’s easy to continue in a rut and breaking out isn’t easy.

    Bravery comes in many forms and thankfully isn’t picky about the situations it visits.

  8. Thanks Jen – anyone that has found a life as far away from home as you have has balls in my book (metaphorical ones obviously!). It’s just surprising when the alternative life you’ve leapt to evolves into the rut again…

  9. I deeply admire your ability to wander — and then to stay put when your son was born. Let’s me belive that there is some degree of bravery in NOT wandering.

    I stayed…for 21 years…to get my two safely into adulthood. The oldest leaves for Casablanca (alone) tomorrow morning, and the youngest leaves for university in a month. For 21 years, I’ve been making the most of the “Sheena Easton” gig, and the house in the suburbs…

    Now comes the scary part. There is no reason for me to stay…so it remains to be seen if i can be brave enough to let go and give into the ‘wander’.

    Great post. Captures the essence of the choices we all make, never truly sure if they are the right ones. The only barometer we have will be looking backwards at the regrets — and i agree, it’s better to regret the ‘done’ than the ‘undone’.

    I’m thinking you’ll find it…whatever it is. Here’s to the act of looking for it!

  10. I always did the right thing….for everyone else. Good grades…sports….college….more college…good job…marriage….kid. I’m just now realizing….I need to do the right thing…for me. When you’re happy….your kid is happy.

    or….what do I know?

  11. Oops – just found loads of you stuck in ‘moderation’! Got to go to work now (Sheena says I have to…) will be answering later……

  12. penfold if you’re going to bali australia is only a hop step and jump away…..

    lucinda williams does a great song about robert johnson on Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. I think it’s “2 cool 2 be 4-gotten”

    well worth a listen

  13. Chere Princesse – I was a clown for a while. Not in the circus but doing Christmas walkabouts for Council events in Portugal. Some days it was the best job in the world. Others it was truly the worst…(I don’t think a beard would suit you btw)
    Good for you and your hubby Shinade – I’ve lived for years in different RV’s (kind of) it’s a great way to live and see the world… (I fear DP may have noticed the plethera of typo’s already!)
    Hi Laura (Bob’s loyal not to be swayed by anything friend!) – thanks for stopping by. There’s nothing scarier than having unlimited choice in front of you – one option worth considering is the dart and map technique. Let me know if you make any decisions! Thanks for your comment at BB btw… kept me smiling for ages…!
    Nursie – I’ve been having similar thoughts myself… xxx

  14. On the beach??? That had better be in transition…between sessions. And…just because it’s Bali…and you…I’ll be sure to be hardly wearing a bikini. (ooops….was that outloud?)

  15. Dad – yes.
    Nance – in 30 degree water and perfect waves I think beachtime will be shorter than usual! I do like a hardly worn bikini (I may have heard you!)….

  16. Father – I’d just like to say that I found your giraffe animation extremely amusing at seven o’clock this morning. Indeed I was more than tickled by his comical and well timed appearance. Several times during the days arduous and somewhat tedious moments the memory of his cheeky wink has rendered me slightly amused bringing a brief feeling of levity in an otherwise unremarkable duration of work. For that and nothing more at this time I thank you.
    Sorry did you require interest as well as length or shall I carry on…?
    Your son (until your dying day – God forbid) Penfold.

  17. Bali? Deb and I have been there… I think my girls would love it there… lets go… Kuta beach is great in December… we could have the first ever Penfold Internationale` Bloggers Surf Competition.

  18. Sylvie – has who gone? Missed what? Have I missed something too…?
    PQ – hmm not sure I have a lot of work and…. just keep twisting my arm…. responsibilities…. a bit harder…. oh ok…. I’m in… anyone else..?

  19. About a year after my daughter was born I moved the two of us to California, across the country from me, because I’d always wanted to live there. A year and a half later we moved back after an earthquake and hundreds of aftershocks (the whole sensible vs. risk thing you mentioned). But I’ve continued to travel as much as possible with my girl along with me. You never really lose the wander, but sometimes it has to be modified when you’re a parent.

  20. Hi TJ – I find the prospect of travelling with my son on my own quite daunting (especially some of the places I have in mind) but he’s been all over Portugal, Spain and the UK (and NZ) and seems very at home with the idea of movement. Which is very handy considering the paternal side of his family (I blame the grandparents myself)…

  21. Ah, so you tell *me* not to encourage him and lo… what do I find?

    While I have never been a clown or wanted to join the circus, I have convinced a bothersome troll that I was a hairy greek. That’s about as close as I’ve come to chucking it all and escaping somewhere exciting.

    The papersurfer family is truly inspiring, and even if you can’t own a Canadian.. you can count one among your friends.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *