Journalism, Ohio University, Photography

Everybody learns from disaster

The other day, I dumped a couple of CDs worth of music onto my phone. I’ve never been a big Dashboard Confessional fan, but I stumbled across one song that I’m pretty big into.

Someday I want to do this. I want to get in the car, pick up some bros, drive until I run out of patience, set up shop somewhere and have an awesome time. And then I want to run out of money, find a way to fill up my tank and return to the real world refreshed.

I’ve always had the ambition to jump in the car at random and take off for an unknown destination, if even for a day or two. There’s nothing like the complete freedom of sitting behind the wheel with nowhere to go and no timetable to get there. At least I can imagine.

It’s not that my life is structured, because I do new things each day, but it’s anything but spontaneous. My definition of living in the moment might consist of playing basketball, chilling on the porch or taking my friends out to dinner.

There’s nothing wrong with that. I love what I do and am thankful for it every night. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed unfulfilled or ticked off in any capacity. That’s an honest blessing, through my eyes.

But some days, there’s a tiny section of my brain that tells me to go sit on the beach in North Carolina for the week. Of course, that’s totally unreasonable.

But is it, really?

What would I miss if I took seven full days off?

I’d miss five days of repetition in the classroom, 10 average meals and a couple of good nights. I might miss a memory that I’d remember for the rest of my life. Maybe I’d regret hitting the road.

But if I backlogged a couple of stories and flew the coop for a week, I bet I’d come back with nothing short of an incredible experience — a detox of sorts.

I could throw my phone in the glove compartment, kick off my shoes, toss on some music and play it loud. Then I’d stop an a convenience store and buy a lot of candy. It’d be awesome.

I’ve gotten a little taste of spontaneity the last couple weekends, where I have packed up some bros and headed out for a hiking trail somewhere. Last Friday we got lost on some muddy paths in the middle of nowhere and found a rope swing. The week before, we climbed the Athens equivalent of a mountain.

Those are some of the most awesome times I’ve had at Ohio. Maybe I should be an explorer or something.

On that note, I think part of the reason going on those hikes is so awesome is because I take my camera with me. As soothing as it is for me to write things, taking out my camera is even more awesome. Now, that may be because I stare into this screen for hours on end each day, but there’s something to be said for taking a couple minutes every now and then to calm yourself down. I couldn’t be more glad that pens, computer keys and viewfinders do that sort of thing for me.

Toward the end of the week, I get in these sort of moods where I just need to go out and romp. I learned in my philosophy class this week that reinforcing unfavorable behaviors with more desirable ones makes both activities more enjoyable. If I’m going to take anything away from that darn class, it’s that the average and awesome in my life counteract and make each other better.

I’m going to be spontaneous someday. I’m going to do something awesome without thinking about the consequences. It might be tomorrow or maybe I’ll wait for a while, but boy oh boy it’s going to be a glorious day.

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My name is Jim Ryan, and I'm a breaking news reporter for The Oregonian and OregonLive in Portland. I'm an Ohio University graduate from Gaylord, Michigan.

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