In response to a recent post, my friend Megan left a comment with the lyrics to “Moon River,” which led me to think of songs that in some way inspire me, that capture in lyrics the way I feel or what I aspire to, particularly in regards to this trip and travel in general. Of course, this led to a far-reaching mental journey that transported me through space and time. Music is very powerful. Like smells, music has a way of taking us back, of capturing a particular moment or feeling, of reminding us of a special person.
As I pondered, I was transported back to a very specific place, Bear Creek Aquatic Camp, on the shores of Kentucky Lake. As a girl, I used to spend some time every summer at Bear Creek. In some ways, I think this camp, though still within the borders of my home state, really had a significant impact on the development of my love of travel and adventure. I started going there in fourth grade, so it was the first place I went without any family. It was a place of new routines, new food, new adventures. It might as well have been a million miles away from home. I did things there that seemed exotic and crazy to my ten-year-old self. I learned to windsurf, sail, and water ski. I challenged myself to a half-mile-long lake swim. I met new people, made new friends. I mastered the art of showering in a stall where the water was lukewarm at best and controlled with a pull string.
And I learned the lyrics to a lot of songs. And I remembered them. If you know me, you know that I can pull out lyrics to the most nonsensical and ridiculous songs at any moment without any trouble. Need a song about a crazy acorn, a girl sucked down a shower drain, a fly in a grocery store? I’m your girl. But not all the songs were silly. It was at Bear Creek that I was introduced to Bob Dylan, John Denver, and a slew of other folk singers. And it was in the fire circle at the point, looking out across the water to Land Between the Lakes, that I learned the song “On the Loose.” The first time I heard it, it spoke to me, and more than a decade and a half later, I still find that the words capture for me something that I otherwise find hard to put into words.
The chorus seems the most pertinent, summarizing in just a few lines a creed of sorts for the way I want to live. And I can’t hear the words without remembering those summers at Bear Creek: the smell of pine, the feeling of my hair in the wind as I cruised across the lake, the warmth of a campfire under a starry sky, the feeling of freedom, of unbridled joy, of absolute certainty that I could and would live the life I imagined. Life seemed full of possibility. As we plan this trip, life, again, seems that way.
On the loose to climb a mountain
On the loose where I am free
On the loose to live my life the way I think my life should be
For I’ve only got a moment
And a whole world yet to see
I’ll be searching for tomorrow on the loose