Switching from a noun: exemption from reliance on, or control by others; to an adjective: not dependent; not contingent or depending on something else; a free thinker.

Ruth: My favorite word has always been Go. For such a tiny word, my dictionary lists 93 definitions, the first one of which is, “To move out of or away from a place.” It was one of the first words I learned to spell, and to use in a sentence. Every summer when school let out in June, I couldn’t wait for my dad to pull out the maps and say, “Where shall we go?” Just the sound of the word made me think of adventure, of something new and strange (grits? frappe? punchball? po-boy?), something I’d never even thought of before. As my world expanded from road trips across the US to treks around the globe, that tiny little word never stopped working its sublime and dangerous magic.

Ben: A lifetime of work, careers spanning operating room technician, sales, hotel and restaurant management, emergency room nursing, holistic body therapist, paramedic – and, throughout, learning-teaching – have tramped down the timeline in hyper-speed in retrospect these past 60 plus years, and now slow to re-entry speed into the present moment. Voices from the distant past asking, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” spoken from faces with smiles emanating hints of condescendence to one so young, planting the seeds of responsibility and a small peek down a scary corridor into future adulthood with societal expectations and demands for success.

What you’re “supposed to” do, “supposed to” be. When are you getting married? Having kids? Getting a real job? Paying a mortgage (mortgage: Latin for “death pledge”)? And then, when you retire, you’re “supposed to” grow old, sit in a rocking chair, and annoy your family.

Neither of us has ever been very good at “supposed to.”

Now standing on the precipice of the pinnacle of transition into a life not driven by the necessity to provide, to indenture ourselves to an eight-hour day-for-pay, it is time to stride into the cave of the mind and psyche to awaken the slumbering Muse of artistic expression and give her free flight.

We have heard the Muse’s mumblings from the depths of her dream-driven exhortations, “Express yourselves!” “Search for me in music, feel my pulse in art. Wake with me in the red sunrise of a desert canyon, caress me and I will show you sights and tell you stories that will cause your tears of joy to flow like a weeping mystical spring.” “Travel with me and we will move visible and invisible through the hearts and minds of man, beast, and earth; listening to the stories of life on this most special and unique blue orb.”

And so, Go we must! The transition from terra firma to trekking wayfarers has begun. After a year’s planning, we embark on a travel-trailer adventure with no end in sight, the words of our job-centered friends following us, “How long will you be on vacation?”

The Declaration of “Independents” has been proclaimed!