Vagabond Dreams Outtakes # 9—A Viewfinder for You


Vagabond Dreams Outtakes are “deleted scenes” from my book. Think of them as a “Special Features” disc of outtakes and curios. This incident took place in the highlands of Guatemala…

Something had been nagging at me during my entire interlude in Antigua. I wasn’t sure what it was, and so I waited for it to reveal itself. I did magic tricks for the children of the vendors, the tricks Zack had taught me on Ometepe. I read books and wrote in my notebook in the sun. With my dark tan and Nica shirt, I blended in well enough that a tourist with a Spanish phrasebook asked me for directions to the post office. I simply waited like that until, one day, I finally realized what it was. I cannot abide time.

Time is the measurement of our consciousness of approaching death. As I sat there in the plaza surrounded by all those stone reminders, I realized in the depths of my being that death was approaching me at a relentless, unstoppable rate of sixty seconds each minute, sixty minutes each hour.

This realization didn’t frighten me; rather, it solidified my resolve. The Road had taught me that I could slow down the approach of death by packing more into each moment. Full moments are timeless. When in their thrall we’re outside of time, no longer measuring our death, staving it off. It struck me that this was the true meaning of eternal life. Eternity isn’t a function of adding an infinite number of years. It’s a result of slowing time, of lengthening those moments in between and learning to live there.

Every time I heard the ticking of my watch it reminded me of my heartbeat — that when it stopped my life would be over. But I knew if I stopped time instead, if I learned to live in those moments “between ticks”, my life would truly begin.

As we cling to the past, we feel the death of the world.

I threw my watch away and I resolved to live.



About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.



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